A Failed Project in Turkey's Sports History: The Law on Physical Education of 1938

Tarakcioglu S.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF SPORT, vol.31, pp.1807-1819, 2014 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 31
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/09523367.2014.940906
  • Page Numbers: pp.1807-1819


The aim of this article is to analyse the Law on Physical Education of 1938 to demonstrate the state interventions in Turkey's sport history. The Law was claimed to be the first one in the world which made physical education (PE) and sports obligatory to its citizens and was created on the verge of the Second World War. It was prepared by Carl Diem under the direction of Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey. According to the Law, male citizens aged between 12 and 45 years, and female citizens between 12 and 30 years would be required to perform PE and sports regularly. For the execution of the Law, a General Directorate of Physical Education was founded. Many grand plans such as creating sports complexes, and training teachers and staff were made without taking the socio-economic conditions of the country into consideration. Ultimately, due to the effects of the economic and political conditions of the nation and the wider world, the Law failed to fulfil the expectations of its creators. Two government-supported journals named Beden Terbiyesi ve Spor and ulku are examined here as primary sources to see how the Law was enforced and how they reflected the Law and the period.