sábado, março 29, 2008

The early years of sport psychology: the work and influence of Pierre de Coubertin.

The early years of sport psychology: the work and influence of Pierre de Coubertin.

Publication Date: 01-MAR-07
Publication Title: Journal of Sport Behavior
Format: Online
Author: Kornspan Alan S.

The history of sport psychology is currently an area of interest (Vealey, 2006). Although, much is known about the history of sport psychology after 1965, little detail about the development of the field before that time is available. A notable exception, however, is the work of Gould and Pick (1995) who detailed the work of Coleman Griffith from the early 1920s until the mid 1960s. Generally, historical analysis of the early years of sport psychology described research and writings of psychologists and physical educators involved in the study of sport (Cratty, 1989; Silva, 2002; Wiggins, 1984). Norman Tripplet, a student of G. Stanley Hall, examined the relationship of competition to bicycle racing in the late 1800s (Tripplet, 1898). Although the work of Tripplet is oftentimes cited in the literature, work by Scripture (1894, 1895) and Fitz (1895) rarely receives attention: For example, Scripture while the supervisor of the Yale Psychology Laboratory studied the reaction time of fencers and runners. Similarly, Fitz a professor at Harvard, studied the reaction time of athletes.

Literature describing the early years of sport psychology also discussed a series of essays published by Pierre de Coubertin in 1913 titled Essais de Psychologic Sportive (Cratty, 1989) and the first sport psychology congress, the Congress of Psychology and Physiology of Sports held in 1913 (Feige, 1977; Silva, 2002). Although the Congress of Psychology and Physiology of Sports organized by Coubertin has been discussed in the Olympic literature (e.g., Olympic Review), little has been written in the sport psychology literature about Coubertin's influence on the development of the field of sport psychology. Thus, the purpose of this article is to describe the work of Pierre de Coubertin in relation to the development of the field. First, the writings of Pierre de Coubertin related to the psychology of sport are presented. Secondly, various developments that led to the organization of the 1913 Olympic Congress in Lausanne are described. Thirdly, the events of the International Congress on the Psychology and Physiology of Sport are discussed. Finally, events that occurred after 1913 related to the development of the field of sport psychology are presented.

Pierre de Coubertin and his Writings on the Psychological Aspects of Sport
Pierre de Coubertin was born on January 1st, 1863 in Paris, France (Madre, 1971), and attended school at the Jesuits College in Rue de Madrid (Madre, 1971).

In general, during this time many individuals were prepared for a career in the military, but Coubertin chose instead to pursue a liberal arts education at the School of Political Sciences (Madre, 1971). In the 1880s, Coubertin made many trips to England, where he became interested in educational reform ("Coubertin, Pierre, Barron", 2004). Through his study of the English educational system he began to develop his philosophy of the importance of character building through sport ("Coubertin, Pierre, Barron, de", 2004). During the late 1880s, Coubertin was asked by the French government to create a world sports association. Also, during this time, Coubertin traveled to the United States to study American colleges and universities and the field of physical education. Interestingly, Coubertin attended a National Physical Education conference in 1889 held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with leading physical educators in the United States. The main themes of this conference were the discussion of various systems of gynmastics. Coubertin presented a lecture about the strength of the English system of sport (MacAloon, 2001).

As a result of the French governments request for Coubertin to create an international sport association and his study of the values of the English sport system, Coubertin invited individuals throughout the world to attend an athletic congress in 1894. At this congress, Coubertin proposed and received support to organize the modern Olympic Games ("Coubertin, Pierre, Barron, de", 2004). Subsequently, the Olympic Games began in Athens, Greece in 1896. From 1896 until 1925, Coubertin was the President of the International Olympic Committee ("Coubertin, Pierre, Barron, de", 2004). Coubertin died on September 2nd, 1937 in Geneva at the age of 74 (MacAloon, 2001).

During his lifetime, Coubertin published 1,300 articles, 30 books, 50 pamphlets, and 30 posters and leaflets comprising over 15,000 pages of text (Muller, 2000). According to Muller (2000) who compiled a list of articles that Coubertin published, Coubertin wrote many articles that pertained to the psychological aspects of sport participation. For example, in 1900, Coubertin wrote an article published in the La Revue des Deux Mondes titled "La psychologie du sport" (Coubertin, 1900, as translated in Muller, 2000) (1). Pereira (2004) suggested that this article is historically significant because this may have been the first time the term sport psychology was used.

In the article "La psychologie du sport" Coubertin posited that children and adolescents participated in sport for competitive aspects and for recognition from the crowd. However, when competitive sport ended Coubertin believed children and adolescents would stop participating. Coubertin explained that adults who participate in sport are those who work and have jobs, and thus participation in sport should be for recreational purposes.

In the second part of the article, "La psychologic du sport", Coubertin described two types of sport, balance and combat. In describing sports of balance, Coubertin discussed a rower's state of mind and the satisfaction a rower obtains from participation. Another area that Coubertin described in the article was the ability of an athlete to exhibit self-control. He noted that ball games were difficult because of the necessary self-control and described these types of games as sports that have much nervous energy related to them.

In the last section of the article, Coubertin (1900) described psychological aspects of sport participation including the importance of will, and how individuals strive to reach the highest levels of sport even when fatigued. Coubertin stated, "These days the physiological effects of sports are studied in great detail. Curious experiments are being conducted that will fully elucidate that matter. But the psychological side has remained in the shadows" (Coubertin, 1900, as translated in Muller, 2000 p. 146).

Coubertin continued to write about the psychology of sport throughout his career (Muller, 2000). In one of his final papers, "Le sources et les limites du progress sportif" translated as the "Origins and Limits of Athletic Progress" (Muller, 2000) (2), Coubertin suggested that various elements relate to the improvement of athletic performance. Coubertin explained that physical development was an important component of improving athletic performance, and thus, an individual can improve through strength, balance, and skill. He also stated that "mental properties play a major role, at times even...

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