The Francoist Mirage at the University of Barcelona: Sports Facilities (1954-1958)
Starting in 1944, the Francoist dictatorship promoted physical education as a compulsory university subject controlled by the Falange to furnish it with ideological content. However, this political decision clashed with the reality of the harsh post-Civil War period. The University of Barcelona is a case in point, since it did not have its own sports facilities until 1957. The purpose of this study is to explain the circumstances in which these facilities were built against the background of the transformation of sports policies under the dictatorship between 1954 and 1958, and also to analyse the extent to which these infrastructures enabled more far-reaching change in the teaching objectives and methods of university physical education. To this end, documentation in the University of Barcelona’s Historical Archive (the University’s Sports Committee and physical education activity reports), documentation in the city’s Historical Archive (the University of Barcelona’s Board of Works and the Municipal Sports Committee) and newspaper library documentation from the period were examined in order to reconstruct the situation at the time. The results evince the connection between changes in the political situation and infrastructural transformations, although there is little correlation between these changes and the resistance to change of university physical education. This perspective demonstrates the clear asymmetry in sport and physical education during Franco’s dictatorship between the ideological resolve of the State apparatus and the determination of local organisations committed to modernisation and which were closer to the public’s needs.