Wednesday Jul 22, 2020

Episode 29: “Their System was Much More Brutal…”: The Karolyi Way in Communist Romania with Geza Pozsar

***Content warning: In this episode, we discuss the ways that individuals used harmful and abusive methods in their coaching tactics and their impact on athletes.***

In the first part of our interview with former choreographer for Béla and Martha Karolyi, the Romanian Communist State, and US national gymnastics team, Geza Pozsar takes us through his experiences living in Romania and working for the famous gymnastics’ duo in the 1970s and 198-s. This is the first part of all the history about the Karolyi’s and the Communist Romanian sport system that is left out of every Western media portrayal of the coaching duo. Geza explains how Bela’s coaching tactics in particular were not representative of the Communist nor Romanian sport system. Rather, their system was much more brutal. Geza does not excuse the Karolyi’s methods and condemns them as he has done for the last 10+ years. Importantly, he contextualizes their world and his role in it by recalling the pressure that the Romanian state placed on winning medals in international sport, and also the high stakes involved for coaches if they did not produce Olympic champions in terms of their daily life at home. These conditions, along with Geza’s assessment of Bela’s limited technical coaching abilities, explain their motivations for defecting to the West to try their hand at coaching careers there. By contextualizing this history for us, Geza moreover confirms the dangerous fallacies in our anti-Communist, pro-American, capitalist narrative of Cold War sport that we have discussed in episodes prior. 


For more on Geza Pozsar, check out Dvora Meyers' terrific piece here. You can find Geza on Twitter @GezaPozsar.


After listening to the episode, check out our recent piece "Canceling the College-Football Season Isn't Enough" published in The Chronicle of Higher Education 



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**For a transcription of this episode please click here. Huge thanks to @Punkadmic for making this happen!**


Comments (1)

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This was great. Thank you.

Tuesday Aug 25, 2020

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