Sokol after 140 years
The Sokol organization, founded in 1862, became the largest physical training association in our country and indelibly penetrated into our nation's consciousness. From the beginning it was obvious that the founders Tyrš and Fügner were not only concerned with physical training, but also stood at all times and everywhere for issues such as the awakening of the Czech nation, resistance to Germanization pressures, and the creation of a national identity. With its patriotic focus, Sokol had an undeniable influence on the formation of national feelings and its 140-year-old history is a reflection of important contemporary events.
Sokol's task, direction and goals, formulated by Tryš (1870) did not require change, even after two world wars, and has a lot to say even today. The human community and conditions, however, still change, therefore it is necessary to revise this program to suit present needs.
By 1948 Sokol had grown into our biggest physical training and sports organization and its members achieved great honor on world competitions. Members regularly attended the Olympic games and world championships in gymnastics and were victorious in both male and female events ( Šupčík, Vácha, Hudec, Gajdoš, Růžička and others). Sokol created a wonderful tradition of festivals, beginning with the first in 1882 under the leadership of Miroslav Tyrš, culminating in the XI festival in 1948, and continuing in a more modest form in the XII festival in 1996 and the XIII festival in 2000.
Because of it, support of and loyalty to national ideals, Sokol activities were repressed four times (1917, 1941, 1950, 1968), but it was always able to renew itself. For many years, especially between 1948 and 1989, Sokol's traditions were continued abroad; the legacy of its founders was kept alive when it wasn't possible to do so in the homeland.
Foreign chapters of Sokol continued the tradition of Sokol festivals. In the course of the two world wars, these chapters helped exiles abroad, and younger members joined in the fight for our independence.
After 40 years of Communism, Sokol again came to life. The attempt for revival in 1968 finished with the invasion of the Warsaw Pact troops. During renewal in 1990, Sokol continued the tradition of its 140 years existence, confirming the heritage of its founders, expressed in the international Charter of sports, including the philosophy of developing the physical, spiritual, and moral values of every person.
The situation of Sokol after ten years of renewal, however, is not easy. The past regime gave Czech society an overabundance of negativism and materialism, so we again stand before a certain renewal, which Sokol would like to take part in. The situation is more complicated because changed times make it necessary to search for new procedures and solutions so that physical training and sports become an everyday necessity for our citizens. These ten years have opened a series of problems, and we must reconsider Sokol's role in today's society.
But Sokol's tasks are not all that different from what they were at the beginning. Sokol additionally wants to create a modern physical education organization that would be attractive to present society, while respecting spiritual and moral principles. The success of this program, including both the old and the new, will be achieved if it is relevant to today's citizens and civil society.
Translated by Inka Neuschlová and Frank Forrest
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