Sport has always been a legitimate focus for human energy, and in the last fifteen years it has emerged as a legitimate focus for scholarly energy as well. In this interdisciplinary overview of the study of sport, sociology, intellectual history, psychology, anthropology, and literature are brought to bear in seeking new understanding of the role and significance of sport in society. Some of the conclusions will be controversial or even disturbing, and the breadth of the volume clearly demonstrates that sport history is not merely a hobby. As Jack W. Berryman notes in the introduction to the volume: "Each essay, in some distinctive manner, confronts the problem of general preconceptions and misconceptions in the study of sport history. The authors ask fundamental questions: what is sport, what is its significance over time, and how can sport be studied effectively?" Donald G. Kyle opens the questions with an examination of the myth of the decline of ancient Greek sport. Stephen Hardy proposes a new model for the interpretation of both early and modern sport. Steven A. Riess questions the historicity of the myth of social mobility through sport in America. Richard D. Mandell explains the history of theoretically profound and earnest modern criticism of sport. Allen Guttmann demythologizes the relationship between erotic impulses and sport.
This serious and timely study of sport aids in the reevaluation of many popular beliefs and traditional scholarly interpretations concerning sport in various ages and cultures. It offers much of value to all those interested in contemplating the nature and history of the phenomenon of sport.