‘Sports and Working Class Youth: Manifesto of the Workers’ Sport Alliance’ from Young Worker. Vol. 4 Nos. 12-13. April 18-25, 1925.

‘Sports and Working Class Youth: Manifesto of the Workers’ Sport Alliance’ from Young Worker. Vol. 4 Nos. 12-13. April 18-25, 1925.

WITH this issue we begin publication of the manifesto of the Workers’ Sport Alliance, the American section of the Red Sport International.

Just as the Red Sport International carries on its world-wide work in closest conjunction with the Young Communist International, so the Young Workers League must assume the major responsibility for furthering and realizing the aims set forth by the Workers’ Sport Alliance. In the past our activities in the field of sport have been very much neglected. And yet conditions in the United States render it especially imperative that we devote a great deal of attention and energy to the sports problem. Not only does the sport work afford a splendid medium for organizational work, i.e., for reaching and influencing thousands of young workers otherwise isolated from us, but it also provides a firm basis for our struggle against Fascism and military training, as well as for the creation of the proletarian fighting units of the future.

Against the Bosses’ Sport.

AGAINST the bourgeoisie sport organizations we must jest the proletarian sport organizations. The members of the Young Workers League must devote all possible energy to the building up of the Workers’ Sport Alliance. In those factories and shops where the bosses have organized sport clubs, the members of the League must work from within. They must combat the capitalist propaganda and ideology with which these clubs are permeated. They must systematically work for the creation of left blocs within these clubs with a view to splitting them off and affiliating them to the Workers’ Sport Alliance.

Our nuclei in the factories and shops must take every opportunity to expose the anti-working class character of these clubs. They must put up demands for the athletes (time off for practice, pay for time spent in clubs, exclusive control of the workers, against advertisement, exploitation of contests, etc.) thus emphasizing the line of class division.

However, our activities must not only be confined to the shop and factory clubs. We must also combat the influence of the professional sport organizations (baseball, boxing and wrestling trusts) and the semi-bourgeois amateur sport clubs. In those clubs which are composed predominantly of proletarian elements, and which are comparatively free of bourgeoisie Influence, we must strive for leadership with a view to winning the members for the Young Workers League and the Red Sports International. In carrying on our work we must constantly point out the class struggle which is going on and the role of the young workers and the sport organizations therein.

Draw Them into League.

IN a great many instances it will be found possible to organize large numbers of young workers into sport clubs controlled by the League and thus to gradually draw them into active political and industrial work under our lead. In our work among the rural youth and the working class children, sports organization is especially important and valuable. We must also make efforts to enlist the support of unions and other working organizations in our sports work. Specific plans for procedure in these phases of the work will be printed in future issues of the Young Worker.

In carrying on the sport work, we must always bear in mind that while it is very important, yet it is only a means and not an end. To permit our sport activity to become an end in itself is to defeat the Communist aims for which we strive. We must realize that sport work is a means to influence large masses of the young workers, to mobilize them for the class struggle and for the ultimate overthrow of capitalist society. It is in the spirit of this realization that our League must devote itself to the task of building the American Section of the Red Sport International, the Workers’ Sport Alliance.

Manifesto of the W.S.A. of A.

THE workers of this country face big struggles with the capitalists. Profits being the aim of the capitalists in industry, they are introducing more highly improved machinery, which enables them to use less workmen and still extract higher gain.

Though the workers may not labor as long hours as many years ago, they are exhausted at an earlier age. Being unfit to compete with the younger men, they are thrown on the scrapheap and left to the mercy of starvation or of philanthropists. Having learned from physicians and sanitary boards that more labor can be obtained from a healthy and happy worker than from an exhausted and discouraged one, the bosses have sought means for counteracting the bad effects of long hours, bad pay and bad conditions in the factory. Higher wages they will not pay; to improve conditions in the shops costs money; to shorten hours means loss of profit. Hence they have found one means of improving the health of the workers and ensuring continued profits—and that is by establishing gymnasiums and other sport facilities.

How They Keep Workers in Check.

IN order to keep the American workers in check, the capitalists, at the same time insistent upon obtaining their profits, have established various forms of benevolent organizations. Among these are factory clubs, gymnasiums and other sport facilities. The workers are given access to these sport and athletic appurtenances free of charge. This is supposed to be due to the kindness of the boss. In reality it is a form of dope to keep the workers satisfied—and at the same time under control. For these clubs are not merely for athletic purposes. They are used by the employers to instill patriotism, love of conditions as they are and gratitude to the capitalist class.

These clubs are a tremendous danger to the workers, especially the young workers, who have not yet tasted the harsh struggle and easily are persuaded that the “boss is a fine fellow and is trying to do all he can for the workers.’’ This is pure humbug. A gymnasium at the same time is most profitable. The worker thinks that he is getting something for nothing. In reality he is paying for the gymnasium by harder work — meaning higher profits for the bosses —and by allowing his mind to be poisoned by the propaganda of the bosses —who do everything in their power also to keep the workers from organizing and strengthening their trade unions. These conditions are of benefit only to the bosses.

Clubs that Act Like Dope.

THERE is another type of athletic club, which is made up of workers and is maintained by voluntary contributions or dues collected from the members. These organizations are somewhat better than the boss-controlled clubs. The officers of these clubs, however, are workers—and sometimes non-workers—who are striving to rise in the world. This means that they are men who have minds like the capitalists—thinking of “rising” in the world—of becoming bosses themselves and thus having the right to exploit other workers and make profit out of their labor. These officers and leaders naturally, either consciously or unconsciously, endeavor to keep the workers content with existing conditions. They talk the same language as the bosses and use the same methods of flattering the workers into acceptance of the conditions that they labor under.

The bosses have gone one step further. They have founded organizations like the Y.M.C.A. and the Y.W.C.A., giving them big subsidies and always meeting requests on the part of the administration in order to show their philanthropy and “good spirit’’ to the workers. These organizations are very dangerous for the workers. Operating under the guise of “good-fellowship,” these institutions are utilized as methods of filling the workers with a spirit not of gratitude alone, but of approval of existing conditions. At such places the workers are made to believe that leading a “regular life,” working hard and giving the employer good service, they can rise in the world and sit beside their present benefactors. This is the humbug with which the bosses fill the minds of the workers, knowing very well that the possibility of “rising” is very small and that modern industry is built on the basis of the many laboring in order that the few may control and earn profit. These institutions are also the training ground for strikebreakers and fascisti.

Rich Man’s Club.

THERE are outspoken athletic clubs of the capitalists which a worker here and there can enter only with great difficulty, owing to the high initiation fee, etc. These are purely bourgeois organizations, which the well-to-do frequent and whose aim is to keep the rich in “trim” and prepared for any eventuality. The spirit of these clubs is ultra-patriotic, which means preparation* for any contingency, such as labor troubles) revolts, etc. These organizations are the basis of fascism in the United States, linking up with other organizations such as the American Legion, American Defense Society and the Ku Klux Klan, all of which are “100 per cent” organizations.

College sports are a form of sport for contaminating the minds of the students. Although the aim of a college should be to train both the minds and bodies of the growing youth, many colleges depend entirely upon excelling in the field of athletics. The purpose of this is obvious. A large part of the college students are sons and daughters of the rich and middle classes. These people serve as strikebreakers when the workers pull out of the factories, mines and railways, etc. They are not able to replace the workers, firstly because they do not understand the work, and secondly, because they are unwilling to do the dirty work that the workers must accept year in and year out till they die, and thirdly, because the “sport” of it soon dies out. Nevertheless they can do just enough work to keep traffic going and factories and mines operating, and winning the sympathy away from the workers.

In the Colleges.

Thus the colleges and universities of this country are preparing the youth for the hard struggles and bloody clashes that are bound to take place in the coming years in this country. The young men who today are doing strikebreaking work, will be ready tomorrow to shoot down the workers who rebel against economic oppression.

Professional sports—baseball, prize fighting, etc.—are a supposed substitute for real sport. Millions of workers spend many millions of dollars every year in order to see professionals try to win against one another. This is obviously no substitute for athletic activities by the workers themselves, for it keeps them from sports in which they can take an active part and blinds them to the conditions by which they are oppressed. At the same time, the workers put millions of dollars into the pockets of capitalists, whose sole function it has been to provide this pastime.

What Bosses Want.

From the above it is clear that the bosses have definite intentions in developing sporting activities in this country as they do:

1. They wish to keep the minds of the workers away from “evil” Influences, that is to say from contact with radicals, who would infect them with the idea that everything is NOT all right as it is.

2. They recognize that conditions in Europe which have driven the workers to the necessity of revolutionary methods in order to extricate themselves from the vile conditions into which they have been plunged, are bound to be repeated in America—with like conclusions.

3. The employers have found that it is better to keep the workers in sound bodily condition, so that the turnover in industry may not be so large and that they may derive better labor, which means higher output and bigger profits.

4. The capitalists are preparing the college students and those workers whom they can attract to their side, as shook troops—that is to say, as fascisti—to use against the workers when the time comes. They fill them with propaganda that poisons them against the working class, making them believe that workers who to not submit to slave conditions are “disloyal,” “unpatriotic,” etc. As the capitalists understand these terms, they are disloyal and unpatriotic, because workers want something more out of life than slavery.

What Must the Workers Do?

TO meet these conditions, the workers need two things; They must prepare themselves mentally, and they must prepare themselves physically. These two things they can do only by clearly comprehending that they are workers under the dominion of the capitalists. They must also recognize that they are a class separate and apart from the capitalist class, and today are under the control of the capitalist class and all its agents, also through such institutions as athletic and other sport dugs. They must recognize that the capitalists establish such organizations, just as they found other organizations, in order to keep the workers completely under their control.

TO meet the coming struggles, the workers must free themselves from the idea that the bosses do anything for them “for nothing.” Everything that the capitalists do has a definite purpose: to perpetuate their control. If the workers wish to be prepared, they must also prepare themselves physically. The capitalists have tremendous power, not only In their organizations, but also in the auxiliaries that they have built up, such as the thousands of athletic clubs, the Y.M.C.A. and the Y.W.C.A., college sports, the American Legion and similar organizations, not to speak of the Ku Klux Klan. The employers also utilize gangsters and thugs to waylay all rebellious workers. Workers must be prepared to meet these bullies and hoodlums. Only bodies well prepared by exercise can meet these gangs. The worker alone cannot meet these gangs and organizations. The workers must build up their athletic and sport sections and fill them with the spirit of COLLECTIVE ACTION. The aim of these organizations must not be to develop “stars,” men of unusual athletic ability, but to develop the workers into efficient fighters for the rights of their class.

Collective Action.

Collective action—training of the mind and body of the great masses of the workers for the struggle against all the influences that are at work at the command of the bosses —must be the goal. Collective action and athletic organizations imbued with the clear idea that the workers are a class apart from the capitalist class—with interests diametrically opposed to those of the capitalist class.

Collective action is the basis of all sport and athletic life in Soviet Russia. During the time of the czars, the workers had no opportunity whatever to participate in sport life. Since the establishment of the Soviet government, on the other hand, and especially in the past two years, great attention has been paid to sports. In every factory and village club there is an athletic section devoted to developing the bodies of the workers. This spirit of collective activity embraces both the children and the men and women, and produces the sense of solidarity that is manifested in all activities of the Russian workers and peasants.

In Every Country.

There are athletic and sport associations in every country of Europe, built upon the same principles. Opposed to the control of the capitalists and their agents, the workers have established their own sport clubs and have dedicated them to building up the physique and metal fighting qualities of their members.

The Russian workers and peasants are establishing a RED STADIUM in Moscow. This Stadium is the center of all the sporting activities of the Soviet State. True to their internationalism, the Russian workers and peasants have dedicated the Stadium to the International Working Class, and now call it the INTERNATIONAL RED STADIUM. The workers’ sport clubs in the other countries are beginning to help in the construction of the Stadium, so that the workers of the entire world will have a place at which to demonstrate their physical development.

International Organization.

THE workers’ sport clubs in the different countries, animated by the same spirit as the Russian workers and peasants, have formed the RED SPORT INTERNATIONAL—the International of the fighting workers Who demand their own sporting facilities apart from the capitalists. The Red Sport International is active in the construction of the International Red Stadium and announces a RED OLYMPIAD in Moscow, in 1926, in which workers’ clubs of all countries will participate.

The workers of America must follow the lead of the Russian workers and peasants and the class-conscious workers of the other countries. They must form their own athletic clubs. free from the influence of the capitalists. They must affiliate them to the Red Sport International and spread the ideas of the R.S.I. throughout the country.

The Workers Sport Alliance.

The WORKERS’ SPORT ALLIANCE OF AMERICA is the American section of the Red Sport International. The Workers’ Sport Alliance calls upon the workers of the United States to establish workers’ sport clubs and to affiliate them to the W.S.A. The Workers’ Sport Alliance will aid any group of workers who wish to establish a club and give them suggestions and advice for their work. The Workers’ Sport Alliance points out to the workers of this country that they must prepare to fight AGAINST THE THUGS IN THE EMPLOY OF THE BOSSES: AGAINST THE FASCIST ORGANIZATIONS, WHICH ARE ANTI-LABOR, ANTI-FOREIGNER AND FOR THAT REASON CALL THEMSELVES 100 PER CENT AMERICAN. AGAINST THE INFLUENCE OP THE EMPLOYERS IN ALL WORKING CLASS ORGANIZATIONS WHICH THEY USE FOR THEIR OWN ENDS. AGAINST THE SQUANDERING OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS EVERY YEAR FOR PROFESSIONAL SPORTS, FROM WHICH THE WORKERS DERIVE NO BENEFIT.


Executive Committee of W.S.A. of A.

The Young Worker was produced by the Young Workers League of America beginning in 1922. The name of the Workers Party youth league followed the name of the adult party, changing to the Young Workers (Communist) League when the Workers Party became the Workers (Communist) Party in 1926. The journal was published monthly in Chicago and continued until 1927. Editors included Oliver Carlson, Martin Abern, Max Schachtman, Nat Kaplan, and Harry Gannes.

For PDF of full issue:https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/youngworker/v04n12-apr-18-1925-yw-opt.pdf

PDF of full issue #2: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/youngworker/v04n13-apr-25-1925-yw-opt.pdf

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