Volume 95, Issue 2

Thursday, May 31, 2001


Takin' it to the street

History of sport lands at UWO

An ode to the humble men and women in stripes

History of sport lands at UWO

By Ryan Dixon
Gazette Staff

Academics from all over the world gathered in London this weekend to celebrate the world of sport, as Western played host to the 29th Annual Convention of the North American Society for Sport History.

The event marks the continuing growth of sport history as an academic discipline within the walls of higher education institutions around the world. Over 20 countries were represented at the convention and papers on a wide range of topics were presented.

NASSH president and Western professor Don Morrow called the convention, "a forum for academic scholars to present their research." Morrow went on to say the convention featured a plethora of topics that touched on a broad spectrum of focus.

"It runs the gamut from things like the history of basketball to examining why gender is an issue in sport. Like any discipline, it includes everything from recording, to studying sophisticated sociological trends," he said.

The NASSH convention certainly does represent much more than a bunch of academics swapping stories about the glory days of sport. The many books on display addressing serious social trends reflected in sport left no doubt this was a convention with much credence.

Morrow said the issues presented were rooted in a great deal of substance. "It's not sport in a vacuum. It's sport in a context – how does it reflect society? – not just who did what, where and when."

Mike Lomax, who made the trek from the University of Georgia, took the notion of sport reflecting society one step further stating that in certain instances, various aspects of sport have dictated social trends.

Patrick Miller from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago said he sees a definite change in the pattern of academic papers being written.

"More and more, papers shift from the field to larger social issues. Race relations has become a big theme, gender issues as well. It's not just about performance on the field," Miller said.

Miller said the entire weekend was a success, noting the City of London and Western specifically were very hospitable hosts. There was, however, one drawback according to Miller, but it was out of anybody's hands.

"The weatherman could have been a little nicer," Miller joked before praising all involved in the weekend. "It's been really well organized right from the first day, actually before the first day, because some of us arrived early."

Western's International Olympic Centre provided a superb backdrop for the weekend of sport studies, Miller said. "Just look at the walls, you're sitting right in the middle of what you're studying."

While sport history as an academic discipline might not be the first thing that comes to most people's minds when thinking about a path of study at university, Morrow said the study of sport is prevalent at many institutions.

"I guess you could say it used to be a sub-discipline; a bunch of physical education students studying sport because that's what they do. It's been a discipline on it's own for at least the last ten years," he said.

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