A Brief Evaluation of Development of Turkish Sport from 1839 to 1923

Although the modern Turkish Republic was officially established in 1923,
the liberalization, secularization and the democratization process of
the Republic was initiated in 1839. All of these three phases occurred
in conjunction with the Tanzimat reforms, which granted partial constitutional
rights to the Turkish people.

After the Tanzimat, the Turkish people reorganized their lives and established
organizations on voluntary and constitutional principles. The formation
of such organizations also provided leadership for sports activities within
the country. Eventually, the sport movement gained momentum. According
to Fisek, “Despite the discouragement of government, the popularity
and enthusiasm for sports were manifested” (p. 270). However, Turkish
sport had not yet set national objectives nor defined goals.

Prior to the Republican Period, between the 1650’s and the 1920’s, the
Ottoman Empire was constantly at war with one or more of her enemies,
weakening the economic and political strength of the nation. During this
period of crisis, it was only natural that the issue of sport escaped
the attention of officials. Nevertheless, it was also “…handed
over to the protection of a few rich individuals called Agas, and of sport
Tekkes (an ancient form of sport clubs) which provided shelter and management
for sport” (Fisek, 251). According to Fisek, “The largest of
all tekkes was in Istanbul and sheltered approximately 300 athletes, mostly
wrestlers” (p. 257). In some instances, services for the sports were
also provided by the Sultan’s Palace.

In the history of Turkish sport this period is remembered as the “Period
of Protectionism” (Fisek, 250). Furthermore, under the protectionist
system, entire services enhanced the athletic performance of Turkish athletes,
yet no effort was advanced for the development of the institution of sport
per se. According to Hicyilmaz, “…there was not any attempt or
any suitable approach to the problems connected with the issues of sport”
(P. 55).

Specific issues regarding sport in Turkiye gained some attention only
around the beginning of the twentieth century when some European-educated
Turkish sportsmen returned with a Western view of sports. With the help
and the experience of these sportsmen “…the system of sport began
to organize and a few national objectives” were stated (Atabeyoglu,

Around the turn of the century, the Ottoman Empire had been suffering
from severe economic and political conditions and was on the verge of
collapse. Finally, soon after WWI, the Empire was invaded and occupied
by the Allied nations of Europe. During this period of invasion, several
“Anglo-Saxon” sports entered into Turkiye.

According to Fisek, “In the cities of Izmir and Istanbul, by using
their diplomatic immunity, the staff of Embassies of England
and France were organizing athletic competitions: cricket, rugby, hockey
and soccer” (p. 249). Ertug reported that, “In 1913, in Istanbul,
the staff of the British Embassy organized a soccer tournament for the
honor of the British commander General Harrington” (p. 8). Moreover,
according to Hicyilmaz, “…by using their diplomatic privileges,
the British merchants and the staff of the British Embassy not only organized
sports competitions but also formed several sports clubs and societies”
(p. 29). It is very important to point out that prior to this period the
occurrence of such events would have been immediately banned by the government.
However, due to prevailing conditions of the occupation, the Ottoman government
was forced to remove the restrictions that blocked the formation of athletic
clubs or associations in the country. According to Howard, “Under
the terms of the Istanbul treaty, during the invasion, the Allied nations
were taking no orders from the Ottoman government” (pp. 136-137).
Taking advantage of the Ottoman government’s vulnerability, a significant
number of athletic clubs were formed, especially by the British. We cannot
interpret England’s initiative as a favor to the Turks, however, England
was not ever concerned with the physical health of the Turkish youth.
Rather, it was a very common British policy that had been used successfully,
in India and in some African nations, to develop sports facilities in
order to restrict nationalism and curb political activity. In fact, in
the early years of the occupation, the British established two soccer
clubs., “The Strugglers” and the “The Progress.” Although
there is no clear evidence, the meanings of the names of the clubs exactly
coincided with the political conditions of both England, which was “progressive,”
and the Ottoman Empire, which was “struggling” at the time.
According to Fisek, “The purpose of the formation and the orchestration
of sport clubs in Turkiye by England were entirely imperialistic”
(p. 268).

It is relevant to stress how external factors influenced the internal
creativity in every area of life in the country. In this regard, the condition
and the subsequent development of sport was not different-from, and were
heavily influenced by, the existing cultural systems in Western Europe
and America. For instance, programs in physical education were modeled
after the calisthenics of Germany and the Scandinavian countries and resembled
the sports and games from England and America. The military and civil
colleges also promoted other gymnastics programs. The first sport clubs
and societies to be organized in Turkiye, however, were those overseen
by the British in soccer and rugby.

British influence on Turkish sport was noticeable, specifically in soccer.
According to Ertug, “The first soccer and rugby club (Moda Futbol
ve Ragby Kulubu) was formed in Moda, Istanbul in 1896′ (p. 6). Although
the British introduced the majority of modern sports such as soccer, rugby,
and hockey, the Americans introduced the game of basketball. During the
occupation “…several nationalist groups were seeking an American
Mandate to protect the country from an English occupation” (Hicyilmaz,
9). According to Fisek, “In 1919, with the financial and technical
assistance of the American government via the Chester Project in Istanbul,
a branch of the YMCA was opened and basketball was introduced to the Turkish
youth” (p. 249).

In the 1890’s Turks were not permitted to participate in modern sport
events against the newly formed British sports clubs, yet some Turks hoped
to have their own sport clubs and club memberships. At the turn of the
century, the Turks’ persistence paid off and they organized their own
athletic clubs. The first clubs to be organized were “The Black Stockings
in 1899, Besiktas in 1903, Galatasaray in 1905 and Fenerbahce in 1907”
(Fisek 256). Despite the fact that the sports clubs were formed back to
back, however, their actual organized athletics were not begun until after
the declaration of the second Mesrutiyet (adoption of constitution) in
1908, which granted more personal freedoms to citizens.

For a while, however, participation in sport activities evolved rather
slowly because, “Most of the societies and clubs were initially concerned
with merely the game of soccer. Sports such as athletics or track and
field, wrestling and basketball, that attracted more attention from the
public, were added only later” (Haluk San, 12).

In the first quarter of the twentieth century, participation in sport
activities increased overwhelmingly, “…and at one point there were
so many sports clubs that for the first time the Turkish sport felt the
need for federation” (Aksin, 316). From 1903 to 1914 patterned along
the British style, a few soccer leagues such as Istanbul Futbol Birligi
(IFB) and Istanbul Futbol-Kulupleri Ligi (IFKL) were organized. Under
the British authority and with the participation of such clubs as the
Moda, Union Club, Elips and the Imogene Club, the IFB was formed in 1903.

After a series of problems the IFB dissolved in 1910 however; but In
the same year by adding a couple of Turkish clubs the former members
of the IFB reformed the IFB and established the IFKL which was dissolved
in 1914 (Fisek 284).

The objectives of the IFB and the IFKL were: scheduling and officiating
the league games according to the British system.

Since 1839, after the declaration of Tanzimat, strong nationalistic sentiments
were evoked, and Turks aspired toward increased participation in political,
cultural and educational fields. Unfortunately, such developments, including
participation in sports, were frequently discouraged and suppressed by
the Ottoman Sultans. During the reign of A. Hamit II (1876-1906) “…most
of the cultural and intellectual organizations were shut down” (Eliot,
124). According to San, Unsi and Var, “The Black Stockings club was
closed because the club organized a soccer tournament which gathered an
unexpected number of spectators” (p. 67).

Despite the fact that the Sultan A. Hamit II was determined to dismantle
the functions of most of the social, cultural and intellectual societies
or clubs, “There were a few privileged athletic clubs that functioned
regularly and freely with the help of their members who were either high-ranked
military generals or rich friends of the Sultan” (San, et. all, 30).
The Besiktas Gymnastic Club (Besiktas Jimnastik Kulubu) was one of these
privileged clubs that was formed by the special decree of the Sultan in

The Turkish sport system was never completely able to free itself from
the outmoded, pan-Islamic political views of the Ottoman Sultans. It is
important to remember that during the pre-Republican period, most people
were barred from joining sport clubs or any other type of social and intellectual
organizations. Fortunately, with the support of the nationalistic movements,
and by the turn of the twentieth century, the sport movement gradually
gained momentum and became the main source of recreation and pastime for
the Turkish youth. The enthusiasm for sports was especially manifested
by outdoor events such as soccer, grease-wrestling and running, and by
indoor calisthenics. According to Apak, “Whereas the game of soccer
was practiced during the weekends, running and wrestling competitions
were conducted at public gatherings and at festivals” (p. 352).

Such recreationally innocent gatherings actually played a decisive role
in the rise and development of Turkish nationalism in the 1910’s. Initially,
sport crowds gathered solely for the sporting event, but such gatherings
soon became a symbolic protest against the Sultanate. Sporting events
contributed to the politization of many people, and eventually the sporting
events served as a political arena.

The Connection of Sports with Physical Education

Turkiye’s sporting and physical education heritage owes a great deal
to the reformists of Tanzimat who “…adopted and applied the general
principles of the French revolution in Turkiye” (Fisek, 262). Modern
sports were completely unknown in Turkiye prior to 1860, but by 1863 school
gymnastics were an esteemed component of urban high school student life.
In almost all of these educational institutions, the “French system
of physical education and sport was practiced and instructed” (Okan,6).
According to Fisek, “The first recorded reference to a person teaching
track and field was a French gymnastics teacher, Curel, at Istanbul’s
Mekteb-i Sultani High School in 1870” (p. 262).

The birth of nationally oriented school sports was a natural result of
the introduction of western physical educational systems in Turkiye. In
addition, Turkiye’s first taste of contemporary sports was made possible
by the practice of French calisthenics on school campuses. According to
Somali, “The first high school to practice calisthenics was Istanbul’s
Kuleli Idadisi in 1863” (p. 10). At that time, the French gymnastics
program was a combination of “fencing, free-style or floor gymnastics
and shot put (Okan, 6). According to San, “By 1869 there were several
schools interested in physical education programs in their curriculum”
(p. 12). Those schools were “Kuleli Idadisi, Mekteb-i Sultani or
Galatasaray Lisesi, Mektebi Bahriye and Mektebi Harbiye’ (San, 12), the
last two of which were military academies.

The physical education classes were not designed to enhance or improve
the physical well-being of students. Rather the PE classes were designed
with such difficult program figures that allowed only the students who
had skills to perform. Therefore) most of the students were discouraged
and did not participate In physical education classes any more (P. 263).

Around the turn of the twentieth century, physical education was not
designed to teach the basic fundamentals of physical and mental health.
Even though sports in Turkish schools were electives, the more prestigious
schools gained much status by offering them, since sports instruction
was not available elsewhere, and its “Western” nature was fashionable,
generating new excitement among the students. It is not surprising that,
from the beginning, the formation and development of modern sports clubs
were initiated on the high school campuses.

Concurrently, there was a growth of in-service teaching in physical education
and coaching from Europe. “Sports and gymnastics became expensive
yet popular” (Okan, 10). Athletic clubs and associations sprung up
all over campuses with a subsequent increase in journalistic coverage
of sports, fired by readers interest at a time when sports events made
even headlines news. Fisek indicates that, “For over forty years
from 1860 to 1903 the development of Turkish sport was affected negatively
by various economic and political conditions” (p. 262). Despite the
fact that most of the modern sports in Turkiye are over a century-old,
very few of them fully developed and reached the level of their European
counterparts, nor were the standards of physical education for students
satisfactory. Basically an elitist system, it remained geared for the
physically gifted.

Development of Sport in Turkiye since 1923

After the war of independence in 1923, through the restoration of full
national and political independence and under the leadership of Ataturk,
the founder of the Republic of Turkiye, the Turks eagerly decided to liberate
themselves from any form of out-moded, pan-Islamic Ottomanist concepts.
Ataturk introduced several reforms ranging from education to religion.
The fundamental aim of these reforms was to break the centuries-old traditions,
to modernize and to elevate Turkiye to the level of Western nations. Ataturk’s
liberal and far-reaching reforms also created expanding opportunities
for the young and mostly European-educated sportsmen to revolutionize
and revive Turkish sport.

After 1923, opportunities for sports participation were broadened through
leadership provided by the formation of numerous non-government sponsored
sports clubs and associations such as the TICI, (the United Sport Clubs
Association), making possible mass participation. According to Caglar,
“There was a gradual increase in the numbers of people involved in
various sports clubs and organizations on both the competitive and the
recreational level” (p. 3).

Prior to the Republican period, there were no stated national objectives
for Turkish sport. Most of the organized sports activities, even if not
forbidden, were realistically out of the common citizen’s reach. In this
respect, the status quo of Turkish sport greatly differed from sport as
it was overtly focused in the industrialized world. During the Ottoman
Empire, sport was basically a form of amusement for the Sultan’s palace.
However, with the establishment of the new, democratic and politically
more stable Republic of Turkiye, a new organizational framework for sport
was formulated. With its theoretical premises geared toward mass participation,
the envisioned programs promised renewed popular interest and vitality.
This situation, along with the prospects of a revolutionary and improved
way of life, prompted a number of sportsmen to emphasize now aspects of

Modern Turkiye’s sporting legacy owes a great deal to those European
educated sportsmen: Selim Sirri Tarcan, Ali Sami Yen, Burhanettin Felek,
Nasuhi Baydar and Yusuf Ziya Onis who are considered the “…pioneers
of modern Turkish sport” (Sumer, 26). With their help, “Sport
and physical activity has undergone continuous expansion throughout this
half of the century’ (San, et al, 69-70). The establishment of numerous
athletic clubs, the formation of sport leagues such as ‘Cuma Ligi’, and
the development of voluntary sport associations like the United Sports
Clubs Association were all efforts of these far-sighted men.

A number of trends were occurring simultaneously in Turkish sport during
the early years of the Republic. On one hand, while most of the major,
modern sports were spreading throughout the nation, major national sports
federations were continuously expanding the number and the type of sporting
events held, including long range goals for energizing efforts and further
plans. There was also a growing awareness of the political importance
of sport so that sport started to be used to foster national pride.

On the other hand, and, “…due to the lack of sufficient finances,
there was great difficulty in improving the existing conditions of sport”
(Fisek, 310). Moreover, and perhaps most importantly of all, the traditional,
indigenous Turkish sports such as Cirit, Grease-Wrestling, Archery and
other activities were declining and becoming part of “history.’ These
traditional Turkish sports declined for several reasons; cirit, for example,
were expensive to maintain. But a more significant fact was that they
were seen as old-fashioned and not progressive, partly due to specific
British propaganda that presented Western sports to the younger Turks.

As the modern Turkish Republic was developing rapidly, the traditional
life styles of the Turkish people were also changing. According to Ceki,
“Many young people were

looking around for things to do and to replace traditional ways of living”
(p. 9). It was during this transition that modern sports received the
most ardent attention.

The young generations spent their free time playing various ball games
such as basketball; volleyball and soccer, and running or doing calisthenics.
The noblemen and the townspeople had other sporting activities such
as chess; backgammon, and various card games (Lewis, 89).

The “Halk Evleri” (folk or public houses) were formed and financed
by the government in order to fulfill the great hunger for sports and
to gratify the general public’s desire for intramural sports.

Development of Institutional Sport (1922-1992)

The organizational and administrative development of Turkish sport in
the Republican period can be divided into four periods.

I- Turkiye Idman Cemiyetleri Ittifak 1922-1936
II-Turk Spor Kurumu 1936-1936
III-Beden Terbiyesi Genel Mudurlugu 1938-1992
IV-Genclik ve Spor Bakanligi 1969-1992

I- (Turkiye Idman Cemiyetleri Ittifaki)

After the war of independence a national central organization of sport,
the TICI (Turkiye Idman Cemiyetleri Ittifaki) was formed in 1922 in order
to improve the chaotic, unsatisfactory state of Turkish sport and the
poor performance of Turkish athletes. By the joint efforts of “Selim
Sirri Tarcan, Ali Sami Yen, Burhanettin Felek and Yusuf Ziya Onis, the
major figures of Turkish sport movement, the first congress of TICI took
place” (Fisek, 255 and Sumer, 25). The TICI was the very first independently
organized, volunteer, multi-sports association, which represented Turkish
sport both nationally and internationally. The basic principles of TICI
were adopted from the Swiss sport model, the “Reglements Sportifs
de l’Union Suisse’ (Sumer, 30). The purposes of TICI were:

to direct, coordinate and advance the activities of all sport organizations;
to represent Turkish sport In international events; to Identify and
stabilize the principles of amateur and professional sport; to organize
sport competitions on a national scale; to canalize the free time of
youth for sport and to discover the new athletes, coaches and officials;
to Identify and direct the qualifications for the Olympic Games in accordance
with the National Olympic Committee; to establish and register the national
sport federations to the International sport federations, to make sport
publications (Fisek, 354-365).

For sixteen years, the Turkish sport movement was directed and controlled
by this truly democratic sport institution. Because of its populist status,
the TICI was able to develop and grow at a very fast pace. Sport clubs,
federations and societies were assembled within the various individual
national sport federations that became forming members of TICI Individual
sport federations assembled under TICI. Examples are:

  • Track & Field Federation 1922
  • Soccer Federation 1922
  • Bicycle Federation 1923
  • Fencing Federation 1923
  • Weight Lifting Federation 1923
  • Swimming & Water Sports Federation 1924
  • Skiing & Winter Sports Federation 1924
  • Horse Riding and Trap & Shooting Federation 1926
  • Basketball Federation 1934
  • Volleyball Federation 1934

Prior to the TICI, no sport organization was completely independent
and almost all of them had some political or religious linkage. With the
development of TICI, the issue of sport was temporarily freed from the
touch of politics and religion. In TIOX every form of ethnic and religious
discrimination, divisive politics and religious activities were strictly
prohibited. TICI became the sole representative and defender of Turkish
sport at every level of athletics. TICI was also “…an official
office for the National Olympic Committee [NOCI” (Ertug, 68). Fisek
reported that, “When Selim Sirri Tarcan officially established the
NOC in 1924, he was also an executive member of the TICI’ (pp. 361-362).
In fact, “In the 1924 Paris Olympic Games, the national teams were
financed and represented by TICI” (San, 6).

The 1930’s were a period of reforms, opportunities, freedom, and national
development. During this renaissance it was possible to introduce innovations,
now ideas and various experiments. On the other hand, it was also a period
of economic difficulties left over from the Great Depression. This situation
negatively affected the financial status of TICI.

During the mid-1930’s, there was a general scarcity of financial support
for TICI. Due to this lack of finances, there was great difficulty in
improving the existing conditions of Turkish sport. In 1936, in a congressional
meeting of TICI, the members and the administrative leaders of the association
voted that “The total movement of sport and physical culture should
be government supported, and made a state program” (Fisek, 266-269).
It followed that, “…the Turkish government was pushed to involve
(itself) in the issues of Turkish sport more actively” (Hicyilmaz,

The aim of this decision was to prepare for life both the athletes in
clubs and the students in classrooms. Clearly this could not have been
accomplished without the permanent financial support of the government.
During those years of financial concerns, the TICI was also suffering
politically and there were several disputes among the members of the TICI
that practically forced the organization to seek government support. “In
1936 at its eighth and final congress, the TICI first changed its name
and status and then dissolved itself forever” (Sumer, 28). With this
decision, the semi-government controlled organ of sport, known as Department
of Sport (Turk Spor Kurumu [TSK] was officially established in 1936.

2- (Turk Spor Kurumu) 1936-1938)

Due to the general economic situation, during the era of TICI, the efforts
to improve the overall status of sport and the general fitness of the
population in Turkiye met with limited success because of the lack of
sufficient resources, such as inadequate sport and recreational facilities
and expertise. Hence, in addition to the lack of resources, “The
main objectives of TICI’s member clubs were beyond the development of
mass athletics” (Fisek, 374).

Apak reports that, “‘The sport authorities of ‘TICI were making
a visible effort to maintain a certain balance between competitive sports
and mass participation” (p. 229). However, the former was frequently
sacrificed for the latter. Pressure to obtain and improve the success
level of Turkish sport in international arenas, especially in soccer where
the national team suffered heavy defeats, was one of the key factors in
placing the competitive sports ahead of mass sports. In the 1930’s, this
situation surfaced as a riveting concern for proponents of the nation’s
only political party of Republican Populist Party (RPP). A close relationship
was temporarily established between sport and party leaders. According
to Fisek, “The politicians promised to rescue Turkish sport from
its present conditions, by offering the invaluable goods and services
of RPP’ (p. 373).

Such promises created a working relationship between sport leaders and
the leaders of the RPP. Eventually, in order to alleviate the existing
conditions of sport, in 1936 in the eighth and last general congress of
TICI, the delegates voted convincingly and overwhelmingly, to abolish
itself and to establish the TSK [Turk Spor Kurumu (National Sport Association)].
In this transaction, a system parallel to the Soviet organization of sport
was created. The TSK was registered under the jurisdiction and the office
of the General Secretary of the (RPP). Sumer writes that, “With the
establishment of TSK the Turkish government began to directly and officially
involve itself in the matters of Turkish sport” (p. 29).

The TSK was presented as a hope and as a long awaited cure for the ills
of Turkish sport. According to Fisek, “It was this hope and the assurances
from the media and sport analysts that made the TICI close its doors and
hand over the association and sports to the control of the government
(p. 376).

This was the beginning of an autocratic, centrally administrated, government
controlled sport management period in Turkish sport. There were living
examples of this model in Stalin’s Soviet Union and in Hitler’s Germany,
both of which were working successfully. In fact, “The government
hired a German sport planner and organizer to help Turkish sport develop”
(Fisek, 377). For a time, this arrangement appeared to be successful.
For instance, the TSK was able to use and benefit from the various resources
of RPP such as the youth clubs, camps, folk houses, dormitories, hostels,

However, soon it was understood that the TSK was very far from being
a cure for Turkish sport. In fact, with the TSK, Turkish sport lost its
most important heritage, its legacy from the TICI as an independent, democratic
volunteer sport organization whose officers, unlike the TSK, “…were
not appointed by a higher authority but were elected’ (Sumer, 29). The
TSK could not guard the independent democratic sporting heritage of TICI,
and the further development of modern competitive sport program in Turkiye
was unsuccessfully cultivated.

Despite the slow progress under TICI, there had been indications of
growing interest among the Turkish leaders concerning the possible significance
of physical activities and sport within the context of national development.
Yet during the TSK, this essential concern was vanquished by political
ambitions of the TSK leaders. With power politics of key interest, sport
and physical education were regarded as highly valuable tools for underlining
both national health and national defense programs. Despite the fact that
these uses of sport were praiseworthy, and possibly because of politization,
Turkish sports stagnated. According to Sumer, “The battle for leadership
was the most important factor that paralyzed the functioning capacity
of the system of sport in the nation” (p. 33). Therefore, the period
of TSK “…was no more than a period of transition of sport from
an independent volunteer system to a completely controlled and centralized
system of sport administration” (Fisek, 373). The primary goal of
TSK was: “To enhance the mental and the physical health of the citizens
through organizing and developing sports and physical activities in revolutionary
and nationalistic directions” (Records of BTGM, p. 657).

3-(Beden Terbiyesi Genel Mudurlugu 1938-1992)

The attempts of TSK to centralize sport were unsuccessful. In 1938 a
special law (3530) the “Beden Terbiyesi Kanunu,” was established
in order to “…assist and promote culture and national development
in Turkiye by creating a militant youth with a nationalistic spirit to
defend Turkiye’s national sovereignty” (Fisek, 367-386). With this
law, the centralization of Turkish sport was accomplished.

Sport and physical education were considered by the government as capable
of supporting the political struggle through disciplined training of the
masses. They were further regarded as vehicles through which national
unity and national integration and national defense might be strengthened.
It was this idea that led to the establishment of the The National General
Directorate of Sport (Beden Terbiyesi Genel Mudurlugu) (BTGM) in 1936.
The directorate subsidized the hiring of coaches, the formation of sport
federations, the building and equipping of sport facilities, and the opening
of regional administration offices in the major cities. Fostering the
development of sport in general the BTGM has both major and minor departments
for all areas of athletic endeavor, as well as departments which “…plan,
conduct and supervise the training of specialists in the building of sport
facilities, international sport relations, sport politics, budgeting,
Sport Lottery’ (TBMM Zabit Ceridesi, in Fisek, pp 2-3).

The BTGM was originally signed under the authority of the Prime Ministry
but, as the governments were changed, the responsibilities and the official
administrative location of the BTGM were changed and registered under
the authority of various sport ministries. For instance, in 1969, when
the Ministry of Youth and Sport was established, the BTGM was automatically
located under this ministry:

When sport became an Issue of education, the BTGM was located under
the authority of Ministry of Education. When It became an issue of youth
then the BTGM was located under the administration of Ministry of Youth
and Sport, and when sport became a national issue then the office of
the BTGM was registered under the authority of the Prime Ministry (Fisek,

BTGM was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, Youth and

The BTGM was responsible for the development of sport in Turkiye and
“…worked in close co-operation with the various sport federations
and practically supervised their work” (Beden Terbiyesi Kanunu, madde
14, in Fisek, 367).

Since 1936 the Turkish system of sport has been a highly centralized
and controlled bureaucracy that is administrated by the supervision and
guidance of BTGM which currently uses the title or the name Genclik Spor
Genel Mudurlugu (GSGM) or the Directorate of Youth and Sport. The objectives
of the GSGM are:

to develop a bodily and mentally fit, united) revolutionist, nationalist
youth; to fertilize and spread out the sport and physical education
nation- wide; to free the citizens of Turkiye from habits of drinking
alcohol, smoking, and gambling; to develop strong and able-bodied citizens
and national soldiers for the national defense; to open new horizons
for the national youth, to organize, administer and prepare sport competitions
and represent the Turkish sport Internationally; to create opportunities
for both amateur and professional athletes to go abroad and compete
and represent the Turkish Republic In International arenas (Fisek, 386).

The underlying, nationalistic principles of sport policy of GSGM have
been centered in the principle of a sound mind in a sound body (“Saglam
Kafa Saglam Vucutta Olur”), a slogan adopted by Ataturk. A holistic
physical, mental and social development of the individual is emphasized
to prepare people for personal well-being and for potential defense of
the nation. The strengthening of the masses is considered to be of central
importance for the regime. From its inception, the most important concern
of the GSGM has been to use sport for the demonstration of national pride.
The achievements of Turkish athletes in international competitions have
provided an impetus for the rise of Turkish sport and to bring international
recognition to the nation.

4-(Genclik Spor Bakanlinligi)

The Ministry of Youth and Sport (Genclik ve Spor Bakanligi) was established
in 1969, during the government of the late Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel,
in order to bring the state and Turkish sport closer together and to give
the governing body of sport more political authority. The GSB was an attempt
to reshape Turkish sport and reemphasize its role in national development
by fostering and equipping children and youth organizations, by contributing
both to physical fitness and sport-for-all programs and by contributing
to competitive sports. The duties of GSB were to “…direct sport
in the country, to work out a legislative policy, put sport programs into
effect, and to coordinate the practical and theoretical connections or
works of federations and different physical cultural organizations”
(Fisek 413).

However, several critics reported that the objectives of GSB were part
of the objectives and the duties of several other ministries such as the
ministry of education, ministry of health and social services, ministry
of labor, ministry of village affairs, ministry of tourism and the ministry
of culture. But there was little co-operation among these various ministries
for sharing authority and responsibility. Although the GSB was granted
official responsibility, this ministry gained very little respect governmental
role in sport.

For instance, starting in 1963 Turkiye entered into the period of a five-year
development plan. According to Sumer, “In the first five-year development
plan (1963-1968) the topic of sport was not taken up” (p.106). In
the second five-year plan, sport was mentioned in but a single line, the
“Sport-for-all program should be encouraged” (Sumer, 106-107).

Moreover, during the GSB no effort was generated to close the gap between
the opportunities for city and rural youth in sport. Contrary to the objectives
and the expectations of both GSGM and GSB, sport and physical education
had been considered to be of little value in national and economic development.
Consequently, the expectations and the objectives of both the GSB and
the GSGM have not been accomplished.

As a final forfeiture, the dissolution of the GSB cost Turkish sport
a drastic budget reduction from the government. Turkish sport was left
with a low priority and sought “…technical assistance and aid from
the private sectors.” Another blow, along with the dissolution of
GSB, was the loss of the country’s best sport science and education institutions
such as the sport academies.


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