Special issue - Sports History
This special issue includes reviews of books covering a variety of aspects of sports history - amateurism, women in sport, sport and the armed forces, sport and Christianity and Olympic history to name but a few. More information can be found on the website of the British Society of Sports History, and in addition the IHR runs a regular seminar on the subject.
In Handley Cross, an early Victorian sporting novel, Mr.
M. Mikell Johnson has produced a groundbreaking work in sports history, which focuses on the exploits and organisation of black women in golf. JoAnn Gregory-Overstreet notes in the foreword that Johnson’s book ‘represents the first complete body of work dedicated to the love of the game of golf exhibited by pioneering women of color’ (p. ix).
In the year of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing it is perhaps timely for us to revisit the philosophy which inspired Pierre de Coubertin to develop the Olympic Movement, and its more familiar expression through the modern Olympic Games. Muscular Christianity, the theme of John J. MacAloon's edited volume (2007), is just that ethos.
At this year's Wimbledon Tennis Championships, Zheng Jie became the first Chinese player to reach the semi-finals of a grand slam tournament. Five minutes after stepping off the court, she was asked yet again to pronounce her name for a global television audience - 'because we've heard it so many different ways this week', quipped the reporter.
Over the past 40 years sport has gained credibility as a field of academic study. This is evident in the expansion of participant and spectator sport worldwide, supported by an ever-increasing range of sport related programmes offered at colleges and universities and ever-increasing research opportunities.
The 1940 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games are a non-event, because they never happened. Promoted by Japanese organisations since the early 1930s, decided on by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) in 1936, and given up by the Japanese in 1938, they were soon forgotten, overshadowed by the war with China and the Second World War.
Until the last decade, scholarly work on the history of sport and leisure in Ireland was most noted by its absence. Historians of modern Ireland almost entirely ignored the importance of sport as a historical phenomenon, preferring to concentrate on matters of church and state.
There are very few books about amateurism. But it is also true that most books about sport in the century before 1960 are about amateurism because it was the idea dominant in the politics and administration of sport. One can no more ignore amateurism in the development of modern sport than one could ignore religion in medieval politics.