Towards a new history of European sport

TOMLINSON, ALAN and Christopher, Young (2011) Towards a new history of European sport European Review, 19 (4). pp. 487-507. ISSN 1062-7987

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The European Commission has invested much symbolic capital in sport's potential contribution to European identity, recently stating ‘that sport has a role in forging identity and bringing people together’. Yet such claims must be strongly qualified. Whilst sport is conspicuously present in Europe as an everyday activity, it is elusively variegated in its social and cultural forms and impacts, and historically informed scholarship points to a more sophisticated approach to the understanding of the subject. At the same time, national histories – conceived largely within national frameworks – hold sway in the field of sports history. There is little truly comparative work and this lack allows the European Commission to put out its statements unchallenged. This article proposes a number of ways in which European sports history might be conceived comparatively. It outlines four different models of European sport (British, German, Soviet, Scandinavian), whilst highlighting the problems inherent in such modelling; argues for greater historical depth (e.g. the importance of Italy in the early modern period); warns against the dangers of presentism (e.g. highlighting the proximity of dance and gymnastics in earlier periods); challenges the hegemony of British sport; and champions the cause of a serious consideration of Eastern Europe.

Item Type:Journal article
Additional Information:© Cambridge University Press, 2011
Subjects:L000 Social Sciences > L300 Sociology
L000 Social Sciences > L900 Cultural Studies
L000 Social Sciences > L300 Sociology > L311 Sport and Leisure
DOI (a stable link to the resource):10.1017/S1062798711000159
Faculties:Faculty of Education and Sport > Chelsea School
ID Code:9156
Deposited By:Converis
Deposited On:14 Sep 2011 12:12
Last Modified:10 Oct 2013 14:56

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