Sports in the Western World

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University of Illinois Press, 1988 - Sports & Recreation - 359 pages
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Since the earliest days of the silent era, American filmmakers have been drawn to the visual spectacle of sports and their compelling narratives of conflict, triumph, and individual achievement. In Contesting Identities Aaron Baker examines how these cinematic representations of sports and athletes have evolved over time--from The Pinch Hitter and Buster Keaton's College to White Men Can't Jump, Jerry Maguire, and Girlfight. He focuses on how identities have been constructed and transcended in American society since the early twentieth century.
Whether depicting team or individual sports, these films return to that most American of themes, the master narrative of self-reliance. Baker shows that even as sports films tackle socially constructed identities like class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender, they ultimately underscore transcendence of these identities through self-reliance.
Looking at films from almost every sporting genre--with a particular focus on movies about boxing, baseball, basketball, and football--Contesting Identities maps the complex cultural landscape depicted in American sports films and the ways in which stories about "subaltern" groups winning acceptance by the mainstream majority can serve to reinforce the values of that majority.
In addition to discussing the genre's recurring dramatic tropes, from the populist prizefighter to the hot-headed rebel to the "manly" female athlete, Baker also looks at the social and cinematic impacts of real-life sports figures from Jackie Robinson and Babe Didrikson Zaharias to Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan.
 

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Contents

FROM RITUAL TO RECREATION THE BEGINNINGS OF SPORT
1
The Competitive Impulse
3
Organized Greek Games
14
The Decline and Fall of Athletics
28
Medieval People at Play
42
SPORTS IN AN EXPANDING WORLD FROM THE RENAISSANCE TO THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
57
The Day of the Scholar Athlete
59
Frowning Puritans
72
IN SUNSHINE AND SHADOW SPORTS IN THE AGE OF CONFLICT
189
The Shaping of Modern Sports
191
Days Dark and Golden
209
Coping With Depression
229
Testing the Super Race
245
YESTERDAYS SPORTS PAGE DOMINANT THEMES SINCE 1945
261
EastWest Games
263
Breaking Barriers Through Sports
283

New Standards for Old Sports
85
The Birth of Mass Leisure
99
Varieties of Football
119
Bats Balls and Business
138
Boys of Winter
155
Individualism Rugged and Refined
171
Sports Biz
304
Sports in Perspective
330
Sources and Suggested Readings
337
Index
355
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