Litherland, Benjamin (2014) Sport’s Relationship with Other Leisure Industries – Sites of Interaction: Relocating Sports History within Leisure History. Sport in History, 34 (2). pp. 578-598. ISSN 1746-0263

There is a tradition in sports history of expressing concern that the field is
in danger of losing sight of wider historiographical questions and issues.
Such warnings stretch back to, at the very least, James Walvin in the very
first issue of the British Journal of Sports History, but as recently as 2013
Paul Ward claimed that ‘those concerned with the welfare of sport history
have seen its ghettoisation as a particularly problematic’.
1 Sports historians
should be more willing, so such criticisms go, to engage with ‘mainstream’
history (mainstream history presumably being social, political and
economic). Without wishing to dredge up these old points of contention,
countervailing lines of reasoning have normally taken one of two forms.
Firstly, as Richard Holt warned in 1996, in actuality there is sometimes
the risk that sports historians attempt to provide so much context that
‘mainstream’ historical backgrounds swallow sports history whole.2
Secondly, it remains important to consider how boundaries of sport are
maintained via its clubs and institutions, and part of this process involves
the demarcating of sport and its histories as distinct to other leisure forms.
To put it bluntly, why shouldn’t there be room in sports history for studies
concerned with sport and its own specificities? Yet even with arguments
and counter-arguments so well-rehearsed, the debate never seems far
from resurfacing.

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