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Sport - Sport And Traditional Cultures, Sport And Modern Cultures, Bibliography

james cricket ideas political

"What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?" queried the historian and political reformer C. L. R. James in the preface of Beyond a Boundary (1963), his lyrical exploration of political, social, and racial relations in the twentieth-century West Indies and British Empire. He answered throughout the book that those who only know sport really know nothing of value. Sport, he insisted, was an essential part of the fabric of modern cultures, the democratic art of the globe's common folk, the stage on which a myriad of social issues were contested. Intellectuals who dismissed sport as mere games or mass opiates misunderstood the fundamental power of sport for shaping modern culture, James insisted. James wrapped his arguments for West Indian political independence and the equality of people of color in the British Empire in discourses on cricket and the ideals of fair play. "It isn't cricket," James insisted, whether he was decrying poor sportsmanship within the boundaries or denouncing racism on the cricket pitch or in any other human endeavor.

In the course of his meditation on sport, James also claimed that ideas about sport were interwoven with ideas about identity, citizenship, gender, and every other facet of human culture in ancient as well as modern societies. Following the lead of James, scholars since the 1960s have contended that ideas about sport are inextricably linked to ideas about politics, economics, and other facets of culture. The vast majority of investigations about the power of sport in shaping and revealing cultural mentalities have concentrated on modern history, especially on modern Western societies. A smaller contingent has excavated the athletic ideologies of classical Western antiquity. The sporting lives and ideas of non-Western and non-modern peoples remain mostly unexplored. Regardless of the time period or culture studied, however, recent scholarship insists that those who know only the details of sporting practices and nothing about the larger cultures which shape and are shaped by those practices really know nothing of value.

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