In 2008 China plans to use the Olympic Games to remake its national identity in the global marketplace. In so doing China treads the path blazed by the United States. For more than a century the U.S. has used the Olympic Games to construct national identity, create communal memory, and craft patriotic mythology. From opening parades where the American team refuses to dip its flag in order to signal American exceptionalism to the closing ceremonies where the U.S. media trumpet that their team owes its medals not to superior athleticism but to the nation’s peerless social and political systems, Olympic Games have served as sites to bolster American nationalism. More than any other nation, the United States has politicized its Olympic participation. In the process a host of myths about American superiority in global encounters has emerged through the Olympics. In memorializing and mythologizing their Olympic teams Americans have revealed the contours of the racial, gender, and class dynamics that animate their peculiar nationhood. These essays explore the history of expressions of American national identity in Olympic arenas.
This book was published as a special issue of the International Journal of the History of Sport.
Table of Contents
1 Prologue: Crafting Patriotism - America at the Olympic Games
2 'This Flag Dips for No Earthly King': The Mysterious Origins of an American Myth
3 'To Dip or Not to Dip': The American Flag at the Olympic Games Since 1936
4 'America's Athletic Missionaries': Political Performance, Olympic Spectacle and the Quest for an American National Culture, 1896-1912
5 Return to the Melting Pot: An Old American Olympic Story
6 Prolegomena to Jesse Owens: American Ideas About Race and Olympic Races from the 1890s to the 1920s
7 American Ideas About Race and Olympic Races in the Era of Jesse Owens: Shattering Myths or Reinforcing Scientific Racism?
8 Johnny Weissmuller and the Old Global Capitalism: The Origins of the Federal Blueprint for Selling American Culture to the World
9 Marketing Weissmuller to the World: Hollywood's Olympics and Federal Schemes for Americanization through Sport
10 Epilogue: Crafting Patriotism - Meditations on 'Californication' and Other Trends
Mark Dyreson is an associate professor of kinesiology and history at Pennsylvania State University and is also President of the North American Society for Sport History.