When the colonies that became the USA were still dominions of the British Empire they began to imagine their sporting pastimes as finer recreations than even those enjoyed in the motherland. From the war of independence and the creation of the republic to the twenty-first century, sporting pastimes have served as essential ingredients in forging nationhood in American history.
This collection gathers the work of an all-star team of historians of American sport in order to explore the origins and meanings of the idea of national pastimes—of a nation symbolized by its sports. These wide-ranging essays analyze the claims of particular sports to national pastime status, from horse racing, hunting, and prize fighting in early American history to baseball, basketball, and football more than two centuries later. These essays also investigate the legal, political, economic, and culture patterns and the gender, ethnic, racial, and class dynamics of national pastimes, connecting sport to broader historical themes.
American National Pastimes chronicles how and why the USA has used sport to define and debate the contours of nation.
This book was published as a special issue of the International Journal of the History of Sport.
Table of Contents
1. Preface: American National Pastimes 2. American National Pastimes: The Genealogy of an Idea 3. The Cyclical History of Horse Racing: The USA’s Oldest and (Sometimes) Most Popular Spectator Sport 4. Hunting and American Identity: The Rise, Fall, Rise and Fall of an American Pastime 5. ‘The Report of My Death Was an Exaggeration’: The Many Sordid Lives of America’s Bloodiest ‘Pastime’ 6. Baseball As the National Pastime: A Fiction Whose Time Is Past 7. American Football Becomes the Dominant Intercollegiate National Pastime 8. Chronicle of a (Football) Death Foretold: The Imminent Demise of a National Pastime? 9. The Emergence of Basketball as an American National Pastime: From a Popular Participant Sport to a Spectacle of Nationhood 10. From Ladies’ Days to Women’s Initiatives: American Pastimes and Distaff Consumption 11. ‘Black Athletes in White Men’s Games’: Race, Sport and American National Pastimes 12. Legislating Sport: Does Law Aid, Abet or Hinder National Pastimes? 13. National Sporting Pastimes, Spectacles of Sporting Otherness and American Imaginings, 1880 – 1920 14. A Brief Taxonomy of Sports that Were Not Quite American National Pastimes: Fads and Flashes-in-the-Pan, Nationwide and Regional Pastimes, the Pastimes of Other Nations, and Pan-National Pastimes