From Ritual to Record: The Nature of Modern Sports

By Allen Guttmann | Go to book overview

AMERICANS LIKE to think of themselves as individualists. The word itself came into the language as [individualism] when Henry Reeve translated the French term [individ ualisme,] which Alexis de Tocqueville had employed as part of his analysis of democracy in America. Tocqueville's contemporary Ralph Waldo Emerson gave the doctrine of individualism his own Transcendental formulation and made the belief in self-reliance an article of American faith. By the time Herbert Hoover came to the presidency in 1929, the phrase [rugged individualism] had long since become a cliche. The Liberal tradition, which Louis Hartz and others have seen as the key to American political ideas, derives from the principle of maximized individual liberty. The flattering contrast between the American individualist and the European conformist has been a staple of our political rhetoric. When David Riesman and others bemoan the alleged conformism of the present-day American, it is usually with the notion that the lamentably submissive behavior of our time is in marked contrast to the distinctively individualistic ways of previous generations.

Historians of American literature have also laid special emphasis on the theme of individualism. Hester Prynne's self-reliant defiance

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From Ritual to Record: The Nature of Modern Sports
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • I - Play, Games, Contests, Sports 1
  • II - From Ritual to Record 15
  • III - Capitalism, Protestantism, and Modern Sport 57
  • IV - Why Baseball Was Our National Game 91
  • V - The Fascination of Football 117
  • VI - Individualism Reconsidered 137
  • Conclusion 157
  • Afterword - From Ritual to Record a Retrospective Critique 163
  • Notes 175
  • Index 199
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