Please select your location

UK, Europe and Middle East


Feedback IconFeedback
Sports in American History-2nd Edition

Sports in American History-2nd Edition


Available As


    Sports in American History: From Colonization to Globalization, Second Edition, journeys from the early American past to the present to give students a compelling grasp of the evolution of American sporting practices. This text provides students with insights into new and alternative perspectives, examines sport as a social and cultural phenomenon, generates a better understanding of current sport practices, and considers future developments in American sport.

    The second edition includes the following enhancements:
    • The final chapter highlights sport in the twenty-first century and gives students an updated view of contemporary sport.
    • Content about the progressive era now makes up two chapters and provides students with a clearer understanding of this instrumental period.
    • New “People and Places” and “International Perspectives” sidebars introduce key figures in sport history and provide students with a global understanding of sport.
    • Time lines with major sport and societal events and milestones provide context in each chapter.
    • More than 150 images provide historical authenticity and relate people and events to the accompanying text.
    • Chapter objectives and discussion questions help students absorb and apply relevant content.
    • An ancillary suite helps instructors prepare for class with an instructor guide, test package, and presentation package.
    This comprehensive resource delivers 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. Sports in American History, Second Edition, 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 11 chronological chapters starting with sporting practices in colonial America and ending with globalized sport today, making it ideal for a semester-long course. The second edition maintains dedication to providing authentic primary documents—including newspapers, illustrations, photographs, historical writings, quotations, and posters—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, Second Edition, 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.


    Text for undergraduate courses in sport history and American studies; resource for graduate students and scholars in sport history and sport studies; and reference for libraries, historians, sport scientists, and sport enthusiasts.

    Table of Contents

    Chapter 1. Sporting Experiences in Colonial America, 1400–1750
    Native American Pastimes and Sports
    Influence of Religion on English Colonists
    Sport in American Colonies
    Chapter 2. Sport and Pastimes in the American Revolutionary Era and Early National Period, 1750–1820
    The Great Awakening and the Place of Sport
    Consumerism and Changing Patterns of Colonial Life
    The Enlightenment in America and Ideas of Sport and the Body
    Frontier and Backcountry Sport
    Women’s Active Recreation in the Revolutionary Era and Early National Period
    Native American Sport
    Sporting Practices During the American Revolutionary War 
    Turn of the Nineteenth Century and Societal Patterns
    Chapter 3. Antebellum Health Reforms and Sporting Forms, 1820–1860
    Overview of the Antebellum Period
    Health Reformers
    Muscular Christianity
    Women and Physical Activity
    Rural Sporting Practices
    Rise of Agricultural and Sporting Journalism
    Sporting Practices of the Middle and Upper Classes
    Public Spaces for Health and Sport
    Sporting Pastimes of African Americans and Native Americans
    Immigrants and Sporting Cultures
    Chapter 4. Rise of Rationalized and Modern Sport, 1850–1870 
    Concept of Modern Sport
    Subcommunities and the Growth of Modern Sport
    Sporting Fraternity
    Growth of Sports Clubs and Advancing Rational Recreation
    Growth of American Team Sport and Competition
    Rise of Intercollegiate Sport
    The Civil War and Sporting Experiences
    Chapter 5. New Identities and Expanding Modes of Sport in the Gilded Age, 1870–1890
    Sport and Social Stratification
    Maintaining Ethnic Forms of Leisure
    Development of an Intercollegiate Sporting Culture
    Male Sporting Culture
    Business of Sport
    Gendered Sport, Class, and Social Roles
    Regulation of Sport: Amateurism Versus Professionalism
    Chapter 6. American Sport and Social Change During the Early Progressive Era, 1890–1900
    Social Reformers of the Progressive Era
    Play and Games in American Ideology
    Recreational Spaces
    Back-to-Nature Movement
    Ethnic Groups
    Body Culture
    Sport and Technology
    Modern Olympic Games
    Chapter 7. Sport as Symbol: Acculturation and Imperialism, 1900–1920
    Sport, Ethnicity, and the Quest for Social Mobility
    Assimilation of Disparate Groups in American Society
    Challenging Gender Boundaries
    Resistance to Social Reform
    Sport and Colonialism
    Sport During World War I
    Chapter 8. Sport, Heroic Athletes, and Popular Culture, 1920–1950
    War, Depression, and the Shaping of America
    Social Change and the Spread of Sport
    Heroes in the Golden Age
    Media and the Commercialization of Sport
    Chapter 9. Sport as TV Spectacle, Big Business, and Political Site, 1950–1980
    Sport in the Cold War
    Evolution of the Sport–Media Relationship
    Incorporation of Alternative Heroes
    Professional Sport and Labor Relations
    Sport and the Civil Rights Movement
    Sport, Narcissism, and the Existential Search for Self
    Scientific Advancements and the Growth of Sport
    Chapter 10. Globalized Sport, 1980–2000
    Corporate Sporting Culture
    Drawing Fans to Baseball
    Michael Jordan and the Growth of Professional Basketball
    Intercollegiate Sport and the NCAA
    Women and Sport
    Drug and Body Abuse Among Athletes
    Violence in Sport
    Discrimination at the End of the Twentieth Century
    Individuality and Sport Icons
    Alternative Sports
    Chapter 11. Sport in the Early Twenty-First Century, 2000-2015
    Business of Professional Sports Teams
    Intercollegiate Sport and Conference Changes
    Title IX and Sport Leadership
    Women’s Professional Teams and Endorsements
    Modern Olympic Challenges and Stars
    Sporting Crises
    Traumatic Brain Injury
    X Games and Alternative Sports
    Youth Sports
    Rise of the Runner
    The Future of Sport
    About the Authors

    About the Author

    Gerald R. Gems, PhD, is a professor in the kinesiology department at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. Gems serves on the Executive Council and Scientific Committee of the International Society for the History of Physical Education and Sport and is a past president of the North American Society for Sport History. He presented the 2016 Routledge Keynote where he received the Routledge Prize in Sport History.

    Dr. Gems is an international scholar and the author of more than 200 publications, including 18 books. He was president of the North American Society for Sport History (NASSH) from 2003 to 2005 as well as the book review editor of the Journal of Sport History for more than two decades. He also received the Fulbright Senior Specialist Award for 2007 to 2012 and was an Illinois Roads Scholar in history from 1999 to 2003.

    Dr. Gems earned his PhD in sport history at the University of Maryland. In addition to his role at North Central College, Dr. Gems serves as the vice president for the International Society for the History of Physical Education and Sport (ISHPES).

    Linda J. Borish, PhD, an associate professor of history and gender and women’s studies at Western Michigan University and is jointly appointed in the departments of history and gender and women’s studies. Dr. Borish has focused her research on American women’s sport and health history. Her research has appeared in both national and international publications. She is lead editor for The Routledge History of American Sport (Routledge, 2016), and was selected in 2001-2002 as the International Ambassador for the North American Society for Sport History and also served on its Executive Council and Publications Board. She is executive producer and historian of the documentary film Jewish Women in American Sport: Settlement Houses to the Olympics and has received numerous research grants related to American women and sport history in rural and urban contexts. Borish was the book review coeditor of the Journal of Sport History from 1996 to 2000.

    Dr. Borish earned her PhD in American studies from the University of Maryland at College Park. In addition to her role at Western Michigan University, Borish is a research associate at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, Brandeis University.

    Gertrud Pfister, PhD, is a professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. She has earned PhDs in sport history and sociology at the University of Regensburg and the Ruhr-University Bochum. She was president of the International Sport Sociology Society from 2001 to 2007. Pfister was also president of the International Society for the History of Sport and Physical Education from 1993 to 2000 and won the association’s award for lifelong achievements in the area of sport history in 2005.

     She won the Darlene Kluka Award of the Women`s Sport Foundation in 2006, the Award of the European Working Group Women in Sport in 2009, the Dorothy Ainsworth Research Award of the International Association of Physical Education and Sport for Girls and Women (IAPESGW), and the Els Schröder Award of the German Gymnastic Association (DTB) for research on women and sport 2013.

    Pfister earned honorary doctorates at the Semmelweis University in Budapest 2007 and at the University of Malmö in 2013.

    She received tthe Order of the Dannebrog, as a knight 1. Class, from the Danish queen in 2015 and the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, 1. Class, in 2016.

     Pfister is a fellow of the American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education and the European College of Sport Science.


    “An ideal curriculum textbook, Sports in American History: From Colonization to Globalization is exceptionally well written, organized, and presented. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library sports history reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists, Sports in American History will be much appreciated by both academia and nonspecialist general readers with an interest in the culture and history of American sports.”

    —Midwest Book Review (review of first edition)

    Sports in American History does a more than laudable job of including the ways in which individual women and nonwhites participated in and shaped American sport history; it also faithfully discusses and describes how the processes of colonization and Americanization and globalization occur, both through sport and concurrently.

    —Matt Hodler, Visiting Assistant Professor in Sport Leadership & Management, Miami University Department of Kinesiology & Health


    All ancillaries are free to course adopters and will be available online at

    Instructor guide. Includes a sample syllabus, descriptions of key philosophical and religious systems and terms, suggested readings and films, and a set of cumulative exam questions that span eras and help students make thematic connections from the semester.

    Test package. Includes 170 questions including true-or-false, multiple-choice, short-answer, and essay questions.

    Presentation package. Includes more than 175 PowerPoint slides that present the textbook material in a lecture-friendly format.

    The presentation package is also available for purchase • ISBN 978-1-4925-3592-8