Sports: A Reference Guide and Critical Commentary, 1980-1999

By Donald L. Deardorff II | Go to book overview

6
Sport and Literature

Great authors who have written about sport include Roger Angel, Pat Conroy, Robert Coover, Frank DeFord, Don DeLillo, David James Duncan, Frederick Exley, Richard Ford, Peter Gent, Eric Greenberg, Donald Hall, William Kennedy, W. P. Kinsella, Maxine Kumin, Peter Lefcourt, Jason Miller, Joyce Carol Oates, Wilfred Sheed, and John Updike. The list could be much longer. These are only a few of the many authors whose works represent the maturation of the sports narrative. The process has been a long one, over a century in the making. It started in the late nineteenth century with sports books for adolescent boys; writers such as Owen Johnson, Gilbert Patten, and John R. Tunis became household names in the early decades of the twentieth century, especially Patten, whose chronicles of Yale's all-American boy, Frank Merriwell, became staple reading for two generations of young readers. These men wrote alongside Jack London, Ernest Hemingway, and other more canonical writers whose works on sports have been long revered by the academy. Naturally, the relationship between art and sports has hardly been limited to novels, drama, or poetry. Artists as diverse as Andy Warhol and Leroy Nieman have used sport as the basis for artistic endeavor, with Nieman relying on the genre of sport art almost exclusively at one point during his brilliant career. Recently, architectural firms have brought a new aesthetic to sports, transforming the usual stadiums into nostalgic cathedrals such as The Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, or Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland.

In many ways sport is art, so the link between athletics and the traditional arts should not be surprising. The number of novels, other fiction and nonfiction works, and volumes of poetry written in the last twenty years is impressive. This chapter will profile some of these works that, in the eyes of some scholars, have lent legitimacy to the idea that sports literature is a genre worthy of critical study. The recognition of this legitimacy has resulted in several fascinating critical inquiries from scholars such as Michael Oriard, Christian Messenger, and Wiley Umphlett,

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Sports: A Reference Guide and Critical Commentary, 1980-1999
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Introduction ix
  • 1: Sport and American History 1
  • 2: Sport: Business and Law 27
  • 3: Sport and Education 57
  • 4: Sport: Ethnicity and Race 97
  • 5: Sport and Gender 115
  • 6: Sport and Literature 137
  • 7: Sport: Philosophy and Religion 163
  • 8: Sport and Popular Culture 193
  • 9: Sport and Psychology 213
  • 10: Sport: Science and Technology 245
  • 11: Sport and Sociology 273
  • 12: Sport and World History 297
  • Appendix 1 - Important Events in American Sports: 1980–2000 325
  • Appendix 2 - Halls of Fame, Libraries, Museums, Periodicals, and Web Sites 335
  • Index 343
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