The Triumphant ’30s: Timoshenko’s Sportsman’s March

“Sportsman’s March” was the theme song for the popular 1936 Russian film Goalkeeper. The film stars an individualistic young athlete who is determined to achieve personal success. However, the protagonist eventually learns the value of teamwork and unity, so he ends up┬ámaking the national team.The theme song is said to embody the “determined good cheer and health” that was present in Russian society in the 1930s.

The lyrics of “Sportsman’s March” illustrate the sense of well-being and determination present in Soviet cultural life in a number of ways. First, the lyrics, “[Liven] up there! Keep up, step up, don’t hold us back,” portray the idea of working together as a collective unit in order to achieve success. In the broad sense, this language could exemplify the Soviet desire to triumph over “backwardness” in the wake of the cultural revolution. Second, the lyrics, “Harden yourself, like steel,” in addition to encouraging physical toughness and resilience, allude to the Soviet industrial revolution and the subsequent expansion of the economy as a┬ámajor component of the First Five Year Plan. Also the phrase, “cool down the hotheads” connotes a sense of humility and the value it has on society as a whole. No longer is individualism encouraged, but in order to promote a better Russia, a more united country, communities must work as a team for the betterment of society as a whole.

I found this song to be particularly interesting because the lyrics struck me as encouraging, uplifting, and motivational. To me, it could definitely represent a form of Soviet propaganda, but in this case the propaganda is promoting proactive mindsets and can-do attitudes.

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