When I mentioned a few months ago that I would be teaching a sports history class this fall a number of readers requested the reading list (and made some good suggestions as well). Here it is, along with the course description. You’ll note that this is a US Sports history and social issues class. I’ll hopefully be following up with a global sports class in the spring.

S.W. Pope, Patriotic Games: Sporting Traditions in the American Imagination, 1876-1926

Andrew M. Kaye, The Pussycat of Prize-Fighting: Tiger Flowers and the Politics of Black Celebrity

Susan Ware, Title IX: A Brief History with Documents

Darcy Frey, The Last Shot: City Streets, Basketball Dreams

Patrick B. Miller, The Sporting World of the Modern South

Franklin Foer, How Soccer Explains the World: An {Unlikely} Theory of Globalization*

* This book is optional for purchase. We will be reading parts of it for class and I will provide those excerpts, but you might find it useful – and interesting! – to own the book and read the whole thing at your leisure.

Course Description and Objectives: In the summer of 2010 South Africa, against what once would have been seen as long odds, successfully hosted the world’s biggest sporting event, the World Cup. Against similarly long odds from the vantage point of two decades ago, the United States soccer team not only experienced some success in the World Cup, but the American public rallied behind the American team. Back in the United States meanwhile, LeBron James announced his decision to join the Miami Heat and his friends (and fellow superstars) Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, stirring up considerable controversy both for the way in which he made his decision and the decision itself. Tiger Woods struggled in the US and British Opens as he continued to deal with the fallout from his tumultuous winter. And throughout all of this the games went on. Baseball has experienced what some seem to see as the rejuvenation of pitching in the wake of the performance enhancing drugs scandals of the past few years. Fans are gearing up for the regular season of the NFL even as they fear a lockout on the horizon.

All of these issues and events reveal the ways in which sports and social issues merge and intertwine in our current sports climate. But these trends are not new. The Olympic movement has always been politicized even as politicians and athletes have proclaimed that sport and politics should not mix. Problems with race and gender have revealed themselves in sport, which sometimes has led and sometimes followed on these issues. In this class we will look at the intersections of sports, politics, and social issues in American history with particular emphasis on the twentieth century.

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