From Ritual to Record: The Nature of Modern Sports

From Ritual to Record: The Nature of Modern Sports

From Ritual to Record: The Nature of Modern Sports

From Ritual to Record: The Nature of Modern Sports

Synopsis

Originally published in 1978, From Ritual to Record was one of the first books to recognize the importance of sports as a lens on the fundamental structure of societies. In this reissue, Guttmann emphasizes the many ways that modern sports, dramatically different from the sports of previous eras, have profoundly shaped contemporary life.

Excerpt

In his introduction to one of the first books written on the psychology of sports, the philosopher Max Scheler lamented what he saw as scholarly neglect: [Scarcely an international phenomenon of the day deserves social and psychological study to the degree that sport does. Sport has grown immeasurably in scope and in social importance, but the meaning of sport has received little in the way of serious attention.] That was in 1927. Fifty years later, sports remain among the most discussed and least understood phenomena of our time. One reason that sports are not understood is that familiarity has made their significance seem obvious when it is not. Another reason is that the philosophers, historians, sociologists, and psychologists who have concerned themselves with sports have only rarely written for the ordinary reader. They have communicated mainly with each other.

I hope in this present study to offer a systematic and original interpretation of modern sports and a series of speculations about what is and what is not unique about American sports. Specifically, I attempt to define the relationships that obtain among play, games, contests, and sports; to demonstrate what differentiates modern from primitive, ancient, and medieval sports; to interpret the social condi-

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