When the colonies that became the USA were still dominions of the British Empire they began to imagine their sporting pastimes as finer recreations than even those enjoyed in the motherland. From the war of independence and the creation of the republic to the twenty-first century, sporting pastimes have served as essential ingredients in forging nationhood in American history.
This collection gathers the work of an all-star team of historians of American sport in order to explore the origins and meanings of the idea of national pastimes—of a nation symbolized by its sports. These wide-ranging essays analyze the claims of particular sports to national pastime status, from horse racing, hunting, and prize fighting in early American history to baseball, basketball, and football more than two centuries later. These essays also investigate the legal, political, economic, and culture patterns and the gender, ethnic, racial, and class dynamics of national pastimes, connecting sport to broader historical themes.
American National Pastimes chronicles how and why the USA has used sport to define and debate the contours of nation.
This book was published as a special issue of the International Journal of the History of Sport.