On the history of student sports in Halle

Thanks to the committed work of Prof. Dr. sc. phil. Theo Austermühle, we can fall back on a well-researched paper on the history of sports training at the Martin Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg. You can read a short summary of the book „From Student Sports to University Sports“ published by Meyer & Meyer in 2000 here: The History of Student Sports.

At this point, we focus on presenting the development of university sports over the past 26 years:

. . . The redesign of student sports ultimately led to service-related university sports. Regardless of mandatory, optional-mandatory or already entirely optional regulations, course systems were set up, the sports offers and forms of exercise culture were expanded, new target groups from among the university members were addressed and new forms of organization were introduced. The sports activities for which the university sports community was previously responsible was also integrated into the university sports program.

Since from 1991, the students‘ weekly schedule no longer required any mandatory sports activities, the optional courses had to be postponed into the late afternoon and evening. This inevitably led to conflicts of interest with sports clubs (HSG Wissenschaft Halle) because these times had been reserved for them in the past decades.

In the course of 1990, the HSG separated from the university and founded an independent club under the name „Universitätssportverein Halle e.V.“ (USV). In retrospect, this naming was unfortunate  because the university connection contained in the name has led to confusion with the University Sports Center (USZ), which plans, organizes and supervises the sports program for students and employees of the university.

The university sports center of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg has been detached from the Institute for Sports Science since 1997 and has been subordinated directly under the Rectorate as a central institution.

In the course of the 90s there was a steady increase in the number of participants in the USZ sports program. At the beginning of the semester, the rush of personal enrollments in the individual sports courses (personal enrollments were still common at the time) was so great that long queues formed, from the second floor over the stairwell down to the courtyard.

Patience was required for all students who wanted to use the offers of the USZ. . .

The students endured these conditions in a very disciplined manner, with a lot of humor and came up with a few ideas to bridge the waiting time, so that there were even spontaneous barbecues in front of the house.

In order to cope with the huge rush of interested students, those responsible at the USZ decided to involve former colleagues, who were already retired, in the registration process. Of course, this situation could only be a temporary solution, especially since the interest in university sports continued to grow in the following years and the number of participants continued to increase.

With the creation of its own homepage in 1998 (one of the first at the MLU),  the entire variety of sports offers at the USZ could be viewed by all members of the university at all times. With that the prerequisites were created that from the summer semester 2007 the enrollment in the sports courses and thus the associated fee payment could be made online for the first time:

As a result, not only were the long queues a thing of the past, the cashless payment process by direct debit and later by SEPA direct debit made the registration procedure much easier for everyone involved. Without this modernization, the steadily increasing number of participants when enrolling in sports courses at the beginning of the semester would no longer have been manageable. Today we use a booking system specially designed for university sports that works without any capacity restrictions.

While in the immediate period after 1990 it was mainly traditional sports that shaped the profile of university sports, the range of courses has been continuously supplemented and expanded up to the present by current trend sports, various martial arts disciplines and fitness, health and dance courses. The University Sports Center of the MLU Halle-Wittenberg is one of very few universities in Germany that offer diving courses. After the final diving exam the basic diving license of the Association of German Sports Divers can be obtained. Cooperation partners do not have to be involved here.

From the beginning, the content of facultative sports offers was strength training. Those responsible for the USZ recognized very early on the enormous importance of these offers for the physical fitness of students and employees. Although there were only very modest material preconditions at the beginning, this area could be continuously expanded. The training took place in the lobby of the university’s own sports hall at Brandbergweg:

The demand rose so quickly in such a short time that the decision had to be made to use around two thirds of the entire hall as a fitness room. State-of-the-art equipment was purchased and high-quality training under supervision was now ensured.

After only a few semesters, the maximum capacity was reached at this location, so that a second fitness room was included in the planning when the USZ moved to Campus Heide-Süd.