Song Junfu (1897-1977), born in Shaoxing, Zhejiang, is a famous modern educator of physical education in China. He participated in the Olympic Games three times as a member of the Chinese sports delegation before liberation. He was also one of the only two international basketball referees in China before liberation and the Director of the Office of Academic Affairs of Beijing Institute of Physical Education and the Vice President of Beijing Institute of Physical Education after liberation. In 1964, he was elected as a member of the Fourth Committee of the All-China Sports Federation and a member of the Fourth National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). As one of the first sports experts in China and a famous educator of physical education, Song Junfu has devoted his life to the development and growth of sports in China.
(I) Be attached to sports and aspire to serve the country through sports
Song Junfu, born in a small and poor handicraft family, lost his father at the age of eight. He studied at an old-style private school at an early age before transferred to a primary school of Christian church and Hangzhou Huilan Middle School successively. In 1916, Moore, Principal (American) of Hangzhou Huilan Middle School, chose to send four students to study in the US and Song Junfu was one of them after graduated from the middle school. He first studied English at Capelle Middle School after arriving in the US, and then entered the Department of Physics of Capelle University one year later, and became a Bachelor of Science in 1921. After graduated from Capelle University, Song Junfu also studied physical education at Springfield College for one year due to his enthusiasm for sports. He lived on a part-time job while studying in the US, and returned to China in 1922. Then he decided to be devoted to his beloved sports undertaking, bringing a trace of hope and vitality to the ingrained old China. An invitation letter from Los Angeles tightly linked him to Chinese sports and the Olympics more than ten years later.
(II) Chinese debut in the Olympic Games
China’s century-old history in the Olympics is a process of continuous exploration from generation to generation. Many pioneering Olympic records have shown China’s unremitting efforts and endeavors in the long history of China in the Olympics. The 10th Olympic Games was held in Los Angeles, USA from July 03 to August 16, 1932. The Ministry of Education of the Kuomintang government in charge of sports work rejected the request of the All-China Sports Association (the Chinese Olympic Committee officially recognized by the International Olympic Committee in 1931) on the grounds of national crisis after the “September 18th Incident”, and declared not to assign athletes to the 10th Los Angeles Olympics. However, the Japanese imperialists wanted to send its puppet pseudo-Manchuria to the international stage, and decided to send Liu Changchun and Yu Xiwei to the Olympic Games as pseudo-Manchuria athletes, attempting to be recognized by the international community and make the athletes tacitly accept the legitimacy of the “assigning country” by means of the fact that it had assigned athletes to the Olympic Games. This piece of news enraged the progressive forces and those engaged in sports. The puppet government did not obtain the consent of Liu Changchun in any form during this period. Song Junfu once taught at Northeastern University in Shenyang as the sports teacher of Liu Changchun. The relationship between them was always very good. He used to teach Liu Changchun the knowledge of running race, patiently guide his training, and care for Liu Changchun in daily life. Hearing the news that the Japanese invaders would send Liu Changchun to the Olympic Games, Song Junfu hurriedly managed to get in touch with Liu Changchun in Peking, inquired the situation and hoped that he would represent China in the competition. In fact, Liu Changchun, who has national integrity, did not want to participate in the Olympics on behalf of the puppet Manchuria. He resolutely responded to the call of teacher Song Junfu and immediately showed his idea to the principal General Zhang Xueliang. He would never represent the aggressor authorities in the competition, and issued a statement in the Ta Kung Pao, “... If I still have my conscience and righteous ardor, how can I forget the motherland and serve a puppet government?” Zhang Xueliang announced at the graduation ceremony of Northeastern University on July 1, 1932 that Liu Changchun would represent China in the 10th Olympic Games. He donated 8,000 silver dollars on the spot as part of the competition fees. Liu Changchun and the coach Song Junfu boarded the “SS President Wilson” from Shanghai on July 8 and set off for the United States. The passenger liner stayed for one day when passing through the port of Nagasaki, Japan, and many passengers chose to go ashore for sightseeing. Song Junfu resolutely refused to go ashore to protest the Japanese imperialist aggression against China. The patriotic action was highly praised by his fellow travelers. The passenger liner arrived at the Los Angeles Pier on the afternoon of July 29 (the day before the opening of the Olympic Games) after a 21-day hard voyage on the Pacific Ocean. It is the first time China has sent athletes to the Olympic Games. After the news was released by major news media, the whole nation was excited immediately, and the enthusiasm for patriotic salvation was unprecedentedly high. It was written as follows in the newspaper. “A Chinese athlete and the accompanying people have gone through all hardships to the Olympic Games at this moment of national crisis, and we hope that you will move forward bravely and all of our future generations will get rid of such sufferings.” Liu Changchun held the national flag and took the lead at the opening ceremony, followed successively by Shen Siliang (the general representative), Song Junfu, Liu Xuesong and Shen Guoquan (two students studying in the US), and Tuo Ping (the Chinese-American). Song Junfu attended the international forum during the Olympic Games, denounced the Japanese imperialist crimes of aggression against China, and publicized the just actions of the Chinese nation to fight against Japan for salvation.
(III) Bring back the design and materials of the Olympic stadium
Song Junfu inspected the sports facilities of the Los Angeles Olympic Games in detail during the 10th Olympic Games in the United States, and brought back the drawings, materials and photos of the Los Angeles Stadium. A stadium started to be constructed in Qingdao in March 1933 to hold the 17th North China Games, which possibly put into practice the conception of Song Junfu of building a “stadium of Olympic style”. The track & field stadium was equipped with a football field 105m in length and 70m in width, as well as all track and field venues. The track & field ground was a 400-meter blue curved standard track created by Dr. Dem (German), which was the same as the Los Angeles Stadium in the US. There were 6 elliptical 400-meter curved tracks and 8 straight tracks. The curved track was made up of three radii with less centrifugal force. Meanwhile, the short radii of the curved tracks made it easy to watch the game clearly. The stadium ended the design of straight track in China, which was “a revolution of track”. Outside the tracks were lawn and stands. The north gate of the stadium (main building) is a three-story magnificent gate tower, with three arched entrance doors and a bell tower on the inner top. It became the leading stadium in China immediately after completed in Qingdao. Many major domestic events have been held here since then. The stadium was used for a long time and then called Qingdao First Stadium after the People’s Republic of China was founded. It is now the Qingdao Tiantai Stadium after rebuilt on the original site.
(IV) Participate in the Olympic Games three times
Song Junfu taught at Shandong University after returning from the 10th Olympic Games, and was elected successively as the chairman of the Qingdao Sports Association and the director of the All-China Sports Association. Then he prepared a lot of work for participation in the 11th Olympic Games. The All-China Sports Association held an athlete training class at Shandong University, and Song Junfu served as the class teacher. The 11th Olympic Games was held in Berlin, Germany in November 1936, and China realized the aspiration to send a team to the Olympic Games. China sent to the Berlin Olympics a delegation consisting of 69 athletes, 9 members of Chinese martial arts performance team, 33 members of sports inspection team and 29 volunteers. Song Junfu participated in the Olympic Games once again as the track & field team manager, the instructor of women’s swimming team, and a member of the Chinese sports delegation. Song Junfu, Yuan Dunli, John Ma, Dong Shouyi, Xu Yingzhao and others inspected sports in European countries under the name of the Chinese Sports Investigation Delegation after the Olympic Games. Song Junfu was approved as an international basketball referee in the same year.
Song Junfu moved to Sichuan together with Shandong University after the “July 7th Incident” in 1937, and then taught at Sichuan University after recommended by Hao Gengsheng when Shandong University was ordered to suspend operations. Then he returned to Qingdao upon the resumption of Shandong University in 1946 after teaching at Sichuan University for eight years. In 1948, the old China formed a sports team for the last time to participate in the London Olympic Games. A selection committee formed by seven persons including Song Junfu, Wang Zhengting, John Ma and Dong Shouyi was responsible for the formation of the Chinese delegation. Song Junfu also served as a member of the basketball selection committee and the instructor of the Chinese basketball team, participated in the 14th Olympic Games in London, England. The Chinese delegation was the 14th one to enter the stadium at the opening ceremony. Song Junfu and Rong Qizhao (a football team leader) were at the forefront of the delegation. China participated in the Olympic Games three times before the People’s Republic of China was founded and Song Junfu was the only Chinese that had participated in the Olympic Games three times.
(V) Be attached to Chinese physical education
As a pioneer of modern Chinese sports undertakings, Song Junfu actively works on sports training and physical education. In 1949, Song Junfu, recruited by Xu Yingchao, joined the Department of Physical Education at Beijing Normal University as a professor. In 1950, he participated in the World Festival of Youth and Students (the Sports Event of the Second Global Congress of Students) held in the Czech Republic as a basketball coach of the Chinese sports delegation, and then joined the first Chinese sports delegation of visiting the Soviet Union for two months of inspection and study. In 1953, Song Junfu joined the Central Institute of Physical Education (now Beijing Sport University) as the director of the Office of Academic Affairs and vice president successively. He has advocated the close integration of intellectual education and physical education, and required students to develop morally, intellectually and physically. As for physical education, Song Junfu has emphasized that the pure and earnest academic atmosphere and traditional spirit should be maintained forever and then carried forward. The implementation of physical education must conform to the principles of education, educational philosophy and educational psychology as much as possible. It should be included in the current sports whether for the reason of entertainment, competition, health or exercise. He believes that people can learn what they can’t learn from books in the sports field, such as rule compliance, cooperation, hard work, struggle, unselfishness and other virtues, all of which can help them succeed in other ways in the future. The Chinese nation also needs such young people to shoulder heavy responsibilities. Song Junfu, decent, approachable and amiable especially for the younger generation, is admired deeply by the majority of teachers and students and sports professionals due to his ardent guidance and earnest attitude of work. He has made unremitting efforts to implement the education policy of the CPC and promote the development of sports undertakings in China. He has been studying the professional work rigorously and meticulously throughout his life, with deep attainments in sports training and competition refereeing and several works such as The Principles of Physical Education and Training Methods of Women’s Basketball. Song Junfu has trained a large number of talents for China for decades in terms of physical education and devoted his life to the development of sports undertakings in China.