Sport in History: Promises and Problems
University of Stirling, Scotland, UK
The general claim presented by politicians, national sports organisations and individual sports bodies across the globe has been that sport has been a positive force in society, benefiting not just children and young people of both sexes, but those of all ages. Its benefits supposedly include comradeship, excitement and good health as well as other intrinsic and extrinsic gains. On occasions sport has even been perceived as a solution to, or a distraction from, society’s social and economic ills, and much effort has been put into increasing participation.
The 11th ISHPES Conference at Stirling, Scotland will therefore focus on the ways in which sport has tried to deliver on such promises, and their unintended consequences, both beneficial and harmful. The Scientific Committee invites contributions (presentations or posters) that will explore the interactions between sport, its legitimating ideologies and culture, politics and society. We hope to highlight the promises that sport has made or has had made in its name; the obstacles that have been faced in attempting to deliver on the promises; and the extent to which the promises have been fulfilled. Presenters are invited to analyse the political and ideological background to the promises and the consequences of the actions that have been taken, including such matters as gender and racial discrimination; the development of peculiar lifestyles among athletes, and the legitimisation of aggression and violence. By examining the past, sports historians can help analyse claims that sport can be a form of humanitarian aid, that it can assist economic development, and that it can produce social change. In brief, has sport the capacity to make a difference to people’s lives and on what terms?
Our invitation is extended not only to colleagues from the fields of history, sports history and physical education but those from other disciplines such as cultural research, anthropology, sociology, and the social sciences generally, where new research, new paradigms and fields of interest are relevant.
Areas that could be explored include ecological and environmental issues, health and injury, gender and ethnicity, sporting conduct and ethical problems, social mobility and life chances of sportspersons, sporting opportunities for children and older persons, and the political use of sport. These suggestions are not intended to be exclusive and innovative interpretations of the conference theme are welcomed.