Expert in applied politics
Racquet vs. Bat: what's stronger?
Date: 29.10.2011

A Racquet vs. a Bat: who's stronger?

Without the proper hygiene during the child’s development,
without properly organized physical training and sports,
we shall never get a healthy generation.

Anatoly Lunacharsky

At the end of October, Russia’s State Duma approved in the second reading the bill “On the Basics of the Citizens’ Health Protection.” According the bill, the main principle of the state healthcare policy is defined as “the priority of preventive measures in the sphere of health protection.” Earlier in the document, preventive measures are treated as “a set of activities aimed at keeping and strengthening health of the population, including promotion of healthy lifestyle”… and further “active support of healthy lifestyles.” Preventive activities of state and local authorities along with medical institutions imply informing the citizens on health hazards, supporting promotion of healthy lifestyles and creating conditions for healthy lifestyles.”

In a couple of days after the second reading in the Parliament, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev publishes a video blog encouraging for direct actions: badminton is great for those seeking for healthy lifestyle. After an agreement was signed between the Ministry of Education and Science and the Russian Badminton Federation in July, it was clear that badminton served its way into Russian schools. Andrey Fursenko, Minister of Education and Science, says that it was the affordability of badminton that enabled to add the sports to school disciplines. In his video blog, Medvedev praises speed and reaction of badminton players. Without any depreciation of badminton’s merits, we would like to pay attention to a couple of issues.

Apart from health improvement, one of current strategic tasks is patriotic education of the population, and especially of the younger generation. Suggestions include theme school lessons, military summer camps for young patriots, and shortening summer holidays in favour of specialised courses. Meanwhile, patriotic education may be implemented in a more natural way—through traditional sports, which can become a proud of our country.

Lapta, a Russian bat and ball game that has been unfairly forgotten, is quite affordable developing not only reaction but also strength and dexterity, which are very important. But what is more, compared to badminton lapta is a team-oriented game. For policy leaders, team games may become a means for implementing another strategic task promoting tolerance ideas among the younger generation. Thus, physical activities context of lapta promotes moral development of students. It should be mentioned though that in spite of traditionally “Russian” name of the game, a focus on its national (and not ethnic) character seems a more efficient way to promote tolerance and to form a national community. With the invention of mini-lapta, which is considered an official sports game in Russia, the first right step has already been made. It is interesting that lapta is promoted in Russia by the Russian Federation of Lapta and the Federation of Russian Lapta.

There is another traditional game with many centuries of history, also allowing for team variations. The costs of sports inventory for gorodki (a game similar to skittles) may vary depending on the supplier, but with right promoting policy reasonable variants of bats for schools would be definitely found. One could be unpleasantly surprised by the fact that gorodki game has not been added to the sports register in Russia, with French pétanque and American cheerleading listed there.

Today, lapta and gorodki are mentioned only in the federal targeted programmes on rural development by 2013 and on development of incoming and domestic tourism in 2011–2018. One more mention is found in sanitary regulations of orphanage activities covering demands to physical training and sports zones for school age children.

It is hardly reasonable for the state to limit the target groups of traditional sports to three social categories. Historic sporting heritage should be revived at the national level. The school badminton programme, according to media, is planned for defence only in December. There is more than a month ahead to supplement/correсt the list of compulsory sporting activities for schools.

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