JMC Professors and Students Examine Sports History, American Culture in New Anthology
Why are Americans fixated on sports? And how does our national fixation influence our understanding of American history, the American way of life, and the American dream?
American History through American Sports: From Colonial Lacrosse to Extreme Sports (ABC-Clio/Praeger, 2013), an ambitious new anthology co-edited by JMC assistant professors Danielle Sarver Coombs and Bob Batchelor, tackles these questions as it examines America’s obsession with sports. The 3-volume collection includes chapters written by current and former JMC graduate students Gina Anne Conley, Alexandra Dellas, Kaitlin Krister, Patrick Mayock and Chris Sweeney; CCI doctoral student Norma Jones and KSU political science doctoral candidate Glen M.E. Duerr, as well as students, faculty, researchers and writers from Michigan State, New York University, Penn State and the University of South Florida.
The collection focuses on the “big four” (baseball, football, basketball, and hockey), sports with widening popularity (such as soccer and NASCAR racing) and sports well outside the mainstream (like motocross and BMX). The first volume studies the creation of a sports culture in America, the second volume examines sports at the center of popular culture and the final volume looks at sports in a digital age.
“Sports history is filled with the triumphs and tragedies that reflect the full tapestry of American history, from the power of the underdog to challenges with race, gender, disability, and sexuality,” Batchelor said. “People care about sports more than almost anything else and this collection analyzes the ways sports has defined and continues to redefine American culture.”
Through lively and provocative essays, the collection covers stories that form the backdrop of athletics and fandom, including the emergence of the New York Yankee dynasty, NFL fanaticism, doping scandals, and “Beckhamania” – the global superstardom of David Beckham.
“As a lifelong sports fan working on a project like this was fantastic. I loved getting the different perspectives and learning about sport I knew next to nothing about, and there are some amazing historical nuggets in the books,” Coombs said. “I’m so pleased with how this came out – I think it’s going to fill an important niche for those interested in learning about the connections between sport and American history.”