Sports at the Exposition

Gli sports vengono occupando nella vita moderna un posto sempre più grande; è bene il caso di dire che costituiscono oggi una delle più vaste e fervide attività della caratteristiche della vita moderna.Tanto vero che le Esposizioni, le quali vogliono essere di questa vita una specie di specchio compendioso, debbono far una parte sempre più larga agli sports e debbono dedicare allo sport una quantità sempre più ingerente di cure e di sforzi ("Le Esposizioni del 1911. Roma – Torino – Firenze", F.lli Treves)

At the beginning of the XX century, sport acquired a major role in the social life of urban centres, and at national level. Thanks to ideological and cultural factors, sport changed from leisure activity, to professional status. The rapid evolution of the communicational media (such as newspaper, photography and cinema) added the passion and involvement into such activities and their "heroes". New professional sport clubs (mostly frequented by bourgoisie and nobility), including motor, fencing, cycling and soccer clubs, as well as national and international competitions (for instance the first Italian Football Championship in 1898 and the Olympics Games of London in 1908) achieved immediate success among general public. In addition, nations looked at sport as a way to represent themselves, their power and grandeur (Pivato 277): sport became the pacific face of military engagement, a way to train oneself and to satisfy personal fighting impulses.

As journalist Mario Morasso suggested in the article "Sport activities at the Universal Exposition of Turin 1911" (Le Esposizioni del 1911. Roma – Torino – Firenze, F.lli Traves Editore, 1911), since Universal Expositions' main goal was to reflect the achievements of modern society, sport events took a decisive role, alongside areas dedicated to amusement and social games. The Committees of Turin 1911 did not want their Exposition being an exception, and looked at sport as “the formative principle among all the amusements” (Morasso).

Indeed, a detailed and rich schedule was arranged throughout the duration of the Fair; an entire Pavilion was dedicated to different sports and a new huge stadium, entitled Stadium, was inaugurated on April 31 in the former Military Parade Ground (Piazza D'Armi). Moreover, according to the Touring Club and Tricolore guides, many competitions and games were scheduled in Turin (and most of them took place in the Stadium) in the same period.

The program included the Gymnastic Competition (April - May); the Equestrian Competition (May – June); and the Competitions of Hot-Air baloons (July – August). Furthermore, some of the sport events took place outside the Stadium, including some of the horse races (at Mirafiore Field), rowing competitions (on Po river) and archery competitions (at the Society of Archery of Turin). In May and September, many motor and cycling races, as well as fencing performances attracted the great audience of the Fair; finally, according to the military spirit of the period, the Committees organized the Raid d'Aviazione Torino – Roma – Torino, as well as several other aviation parades starting from Mirafiore Field.

Interpretive Essays:

  • Turin: the capital city of Sport
  • The Stadium
  • References:

    Torino Esposizione 1911: Monografia Illustrata edita della Direzione Generale del Touring Club Italiano.Torino: Touring Club Italiano, 1911. 43-45.

    Giornale Ufficiale Illustrato dell'Esposizione. No 7, July 1910. Milano: Stab.Momo, 1910.

    Ferrara, Patrizia, “Ginnastica, Sport e Tempo Libero”. Storia di Torino. Da capitale politica a capitale industriale. A cura di Umberto Levra. Vol. VII. Torino: Giulio Enaudi Editore, 2001. 1067 – 1087.

    Gursel, Bahar. “Two cities, two Fairgrounds: Chicago's 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and Turin's 1911 International Exposition”.Carosso, Andrea. Urban Cultures Of/In the United States: Comparative Perspectives. Bern: Peter Lang AG, 2010. 63 – 86.

    Morasso, Mario. “Il Programma Sportivo dell'Esposizione.” Le Esposizioni del 1911. Roma – Torino – Firenze. A cura di Guido Treves. Milano: Fratelli Traves Editore, 1911. 46 – 47.

    Pivato, Stefano. “Identita' sportiva e identita' nazionale.” vol. 109, issue 1. Melanges de l'Ecole francais de Rome. Italie et Mediterranee, 1997. 277 – 284.