It Was Raised in an Interview with Ibrahim Afshar

Details of Oral History Project of Iranian Sport Press

Maryam Asadi Jafari
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


Iranian Oral History Website: specialized sports newspapers and sports pages of news agencies are one of the most popular media, especially when it comes to football! Working in a newspaper or as a correspondent because of never-ending dynamism and excitement is filled with ups and downs and precious experiences for future reporters and an excuse to commemorate predecessors. In this regard, library, documentation center and oral history of the National Olympic Academy, with establishing "Department of Oral History," approved adoption of four oral history projects titled "Oral History of Iranian Sport Press," Oral History of Iranian Women's Sports, "Oral History of Iranian Football" and " Oral History of Iranian Wrestling", and the first project was started by Ibrahim Afshar focused on "Oral History of Iranian Sport Press".

Ebrahim Afshar, a sports journalist protagonist, has been active in the field for nearly 40 years and has been worked in the press such as "Kayhan Sports", "Negah Varzeshi (Sports View)", and "Tamashagar (audience) Sports Weekly". His passion for sports journalism has been as much as he has written several books in field of history and oral history of sports, including "Oral History and Sports Encyclopedia of Tehran", "Aseyyed Hasan Razzaz: Based on Life of Pahlavan Seyyed Hasan Razzaz" and "Iran Sport History". Ibrahim Afshar, sorry for neglecting memoirs of sports journalist protagonists, says: "I think we have still time to address the past thirty to forty years about further thirty to forty years. But for the first generations of sports media whom wind has blown all of them! Now we are faced with regret and alas that all of its oral sources have been disappeared and left us in a vacuum of lacking history. "The following interview has explained details of oral history project of Iran's sports press by the word of Ibrahim Afshar.

* There is contradictory information about the first Iranian sports magazines. In some scientific articles, some magazines have not been mentioned. What sources do you use to list Iranian sports magazines so that get accurate information? Tell a little about the formation of sports journalism in Iran.
If we consider "Kaghaz Akkhbar (a literal translation of the English word newspaper)" by Mirza Saleh Shirazi as the first product of written media in Iran, then Muharram 1253 AH coincided with Ordibehesht 1217 SH (May 1838), when the first copies of the newspaper was printed, is our start point, which was more than 180 years ago. With the same conclusion, if we consider history of the first sports news which was inserted in written Iranian media in the media after "Kaghaz Akhbar" and simultaneous with development of modern sports in Iran, sports journalism in Iran has a history with about 150 years. Of course, in the first generation of Iranian newspapers, which belonged more to government, political, and social news, there was less talk of sports; because sport in Iran is still a fifth wheel of wagon and belongs to foreigners working in the country. Whatever gymnasiums managers and "sportsmen" and reporters who were interested in sports begged for newspapers directors to cover some minor news of sports efforts and physical education affairs and holding a gymnasium, it wouldn't affect their unmerciful heart. I recall Mr. Sadri Miremadi, of the first generation of sports journalists, who narrated for me that we had to beg the editors in chiefs much and resorted to them in order to assign a small piece to sport news in newspapers. Of course, after formation of modern sports in Iran and establishment of sports gymnasiums, newspapers were also convinced to publish news; because they faced with the modernized situation that how modern sports, especially football, had flared up hearts of the urban youth of Iran. By sending abroad Iran's first national team (Bad Kube or Baku), which was started around 1304 SH /1925, Iran's sport entered its universality and internationality course, and trailed sport journalism too. We had a special sports magazine in year 1928 that was come out by National Association for Physical Education. Seyyed Mohammad Shoa, director and founder of Shoa F.C also published a more professional magazine called "Aeen Varzesh (sport rites)" on July 1928. Since the early 1940s, when magazine "Niroo and Rasti (power and righteousness" was published as the most influential Iranian sports journal by Manouchehr Mehran, Iran's sport journalism suddenly changes its skin and exerts an extraordinary effect on spiritual, intellectual and technical development of athletes. Then, in the 1950s, "Kayhan Sports" and later "Donyaye Varzesh (world of sport)" were born, which were considered as source. I've studied about all this history whether through analyzing documents, searching in archives, or have talked with its activists and witnesses.


* Is there someone alive among activists of the first Iranian sports press (the first reporters and editor in chiefs) whom you are going to talk with?
Not only activists of the first generation of Iran's sports press have outworn one hundred shrouds, but also among the second-generation sports writers of our homeland few and far between has remained, whom also either have Alzheimer or isolated or scattered elsewhere in the world. Unfortunately, even we have no two minutes of video and audio from Ahmad Spahani, Mir Mehdi Varzandeh, Sadri Miremadi, Manouchehr Mehran and Abolfazl Sadri.

* What is time period you consider to record oral history of the sports press? Do you start with the first journals - based on the second question - or just check out post-revolution magazines? How many magazines will you check?
I want to review a 150-year period in Iran sports writing; appreciating initial efforts to devote the first sports columns for printing in the first generation newspapers and then publishing the first generation of professional sports periodicals. Then I will come to 1960s and 1970s, which is peak of classical sports writing in Iran. The next period is era of the revolution, and then booming era of 1990s, when flood of sports journals suddenly were distributed in kiosks, and the last part of this historiography is its today period situation which is on the wane. In my opinion for the last thirty to forty years, we have still about thirty to forty years time to analyze. But for the first generations of sports media that all have been blown! Now we regret and deplore due to losing all its oral resources and that they abandoned us in a vacuum of having no history.

* People like Seyyed Farid Ghasemi have done some research on history of sports press. Do you also use them? In general, explain about your research team.

I will invite everyone to sit in front of our camera; from scholars and editor in chiefs, writers and photographers, caricaturists, layout designers and advertisers, and even servants and printers.

* That you pay attention to details in choosing interviewees is admirable. Since you have been active in "Kayhan Sports" and it has been one of the most successful sports press, is interview with the protagonists of this magazine among your prefers?
Naturally, part of oral history of Iran's sports press is covered by history of Kayhan Sports; but it is not all the task.

* What are bases of axes of oral history interviews of sports press? Do you intend to address experienced ups and downs by reporters or target their memories?
Oral history is fundamentally different from memory-writing, although it is not lack of memory. My interview axes are on fields of emergence of sports periodicals in Iran, the impact of Iran sports developments on sports periodicals, the impact of modernity on it, issues and problems of publishing sports journals, crises and ways to pass them, the way the main editorial teams in publication of the media were formed, facility of printing and publishing, social-political feedbacks, circulations, ways of news nourishment, possibility of parallel or non-parallel move with organizations of the country sports and overlaps and conflicts, sales networks, sports literature, using advertising and direct and indirect ads, and addressing position of photo and issues such these.

* Now at what stage of Oral History Project of Sports Press are you and whom are you currently interviewing with?

For the moment, I have provided a thirty to forty person list, which includes all witnesses and activists of sports press in different arenas and dates. As the first person I called on Mr. Manouchehr Zandi. The second is Ahmad Abdullahinia, and gradually, based on age and vitality and memory of my subjects, I advance.

* When do you think this project will be finished?
We have considered an eighteen-month period. But very soon I will present it in order to address oral history of "Agha Madad"; Rasoul Madadnoee, the biggest talent-scout of the country sports that I have wished for many years to do it.

*What is your opinion about importance and necessity of recording oral history of Iranian sports press? Do you consider this action necessary to preserve name of protagonist reporters, or you look at this project as a resolution for future sports reporters?
Unfortunately, due to negligence of cultural directors of Iran's sport, written and oral history of sports press of the country has been lost. From the first and second generations of Iranian sports writers such as Ahmad Spahani, Sadri Miremadi, Asadollahi, Dorri, Behmanesh, Zarafshan, Zahedi and others, all died and took their memories of the first motives and media approaches of Iranian sport to the grave. Perhaps few and far between of the second generation of Iranian sports writers have remained that if we do not hesitate, they also live in in their final life seasons and face with pains such as Alzheimer, self-love and complete isolation. Now, perhaps by relying on exceptions of this generation, as well as elders of the third generation of sports writers, we can save oral history project of the sports press with help of their memory from being completely lost or on the basis of written memories and documents of the first half-century of sports writing in Iran gathered a comprehensive history that be usable for posterity. Whatever time is passed and be later, existence of the third generation of sports writers is also threatened by losing memory, and it is obviously that after their deaths, secrets and targets and memories and information of much of history of Iranian sports press would be subjected to annihilation. I wish viewers and readers of my oral history to see what growths and falls we have faced in this arena; however, nobody will ever learn a lesson of these things!

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