Real Sports, Volume 95
by James T. Fisher
Duke University Press
Paper: 978-0-8223-6435-1

The contributors to this volume were recruited by editor James T. Fisher on the basis of writing talent and a passion for sports equal to his own. These scholars and critics from such disciplines as history, English, comparative literature, and theology look to the sidelines of their academic lives to break new ground in sportswriting. But they are neither competing for turf in sports journalism nor aiming to establish an academic area such as “sports studies”—the prospect of which, says Fisher, “is not pleasant to behold.” Instead, they write about boxing, for example, in terms of living and working (out) in the college town where Larry Holmes grew up and now owns a gym; about how the religious implications of Sunday-afternoon sports in seventeenth-century England became the key to a Cambridge theology student’s understanding of the fall of Archbishop Laud and Charles I; about baseball as Cuba’s national pastime—and what that means to a Cuban professor of literature at Yale.
Indeed, questions of meaning, mediation, and the mediation of the media are repeatedly raised here as contributors explore the historical, social, cultural, and personal experience of sports as an index of identity. Real Sports features a historian’s analysis of sports as a nexus between Indian and Euro-American cultures; a critique of sports talk radio and the ethic of the fan; and a literary critic’s celebration of the Midwest, complete with swamps, shopping centers, and “the Spartan green of the Big Ten.” Also explored is today’s father-son generation gap, between fathers who root for their home teams and sons whose place is six feet from the TV set, “where every team is the home team.”

Contributors. Patrick Allitt, Philip Deloria, Ann Fabian, James T. Fisher, Roberto González Echevarría, Pamela Haag, Michael Oriard, Kenneth Parker, Stephen Rachman, Carlo Rotella

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