Teaching/Learning Sports History

Authored by: Tara Magdalinski

Routledge Handbook of Sport History

Print publication date:  September  2021
Online publication date:  September  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367331733
eBook ISBN: 9780429318306
Adobe ISBN:


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In university and college departments offering kinesiology, exercise science, and sport management programmes, the utility of teaching sports history is often unclear and, in many cases, hard to justify in the face of shrinking budgets and fewer specialist positions. Mirroring the foregrounding of STEM disciplines, sports historians have had to fight for the continued existence of their courses, often with the compromise that the socio-cultural disciplines (history, sociology, philosophy) are bundled into a single unit of study. Yet sport practices in the twenty-first century require contextualization, and here sports history can offer important insights for students. The significance of taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality is enhanced when it is located within a legacy of Black protest in sport. Far from being a series of names, dates, and places, these techniques ensure that students appreciate how internal and external forces have shaped contemporary sporting practices, ideologies, and mythologies. Whether it is tracing the development of modern sport alongside industrialization and capitalism, or identifying how Victorian attitudes towards women’s physicality continue to influence how cis female and trans athletes’ bodies are regulated and controlled, the history of sport provides insight into, as well as potential solutions for, many of the challenges faced by governing bodies, commercial enterprises, athletes, and fans today.

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