Sports in American History: From Colonization to Globalization

Sports in American History: From Colonization to Globalization



Document Type




Sports in American History: From Colonization to Globalization journeys from the early American past to the present to give students a compelling grasp of the historical evolution of American sporting practices. This text provides students with insights that will allow them to develop new and alternative perspectives, examine sport as a social and cultural phenomenon, generate a better understanding of current sport practices, and consider future developments in sport in American life.

This expansive text is the most comprehensive resource on sport history, providing coverage of sport by historical periods—from the indigenous tribes of premodern America, through colonial societies, to the era of sport in the United States today. Unlike previous sport history texts, Sports in American History examines how women, minorities, and ethnic and religious groups have influenced U.S. sporting culture. This gives students a broader knowledge of the complexities of sport, health, and play in the American experience and how historical factors, such as gender, ethnicity, race, and religion, provide a more complete understanding of sports in American history. The easy-to-follow material is divided into nine chronological chapters starting with sporting practices in colonial America and ending with globalized sport today, making it ideal for a semester-long course. Each chapter includes objectives, an introduction, a summary of the points covered, and discussion questions to help students easily identify and remember the key concepts presented. In addition, the text has the following features:

-An extensive time line of significant sport and nonsport events gives students a handy reference point from which to view the past.

-End-of-chapter discussion questions help students comprehend the material and aid instructors in class preparation.

-Sidebars provide alternative perspectives about sport issues and developments, including international differences in the organization, play, and culture of sport. “People and Places” sidebars offer brief glimpses into key institutions and figures that have affected sport during a particular period.

-Primary documents from each historical period—including newspapers, illustrations, photographs, historical writings, quotations, and posters—are integrated into each chapter to bring the time periods to life for students.

-An extensive bibliography features primary and secondary sources in American sport history.

Sports in American History is unique in its level of detail, broad time frame, and focus on sports and the evolving definitions of physical activity and games. In addition, excerpts from primary documents provide firsthand accounts that will not only inform and fascinate readers but also provide a well-rounded perspective on the historical development of American sport. With sidebars offering an international viewpoint, this book will help students understand how historical events have shaped sport differently in the United States than in other parts of the world.



Publication Date



Human Kinetics


Champaign, IL


Cultural History | Social History | United States History

Citation for published book

Gems, Gerald R, Linda J. Borish, and Gertrud Pfister. Sports in American History: From Colonization to Globalization. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2008. Print.

Sports in American History: From Colonization to Globalization