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HIST 116: The History of Sports and World Domination (Lehman): Home

Research guide for Brittany Lehman's History 116 course, Spring 2017

Cloth made for the Cameroon national soccer team, the Indomitable Lions, who participated in the 1990 World Cup held in Italy.

Course Description

Using the history of sports, this class explores contests for world domination between 1700 and the present. During the 18th century, sports like horse racing and boxing were both militaristic and a class symbol. Different states across the world used sporting games to train their soldiers, for the jest, and frequently in trials of honor. Over the 19th century, the tone of those sports changed as the team sports we know today developed, often serving as vehicles for national as well as individual pride in a colonial world. Some scholars argue that, particularly in a post-colonial era, those sports served as ersatz battle fields, used to demonstrate national dominance even as they perpetuated gendered discrimination. The Olympics, for example, developed as a national competition, pitting state representatives in a supposedly peaceful competition laden with political implications. Looking at these components, this class explores the history of sports like sumo in Japan and soccer in England. Examining the connection between sports and perceived world domination, the class asks about why some sports spread, while others became a symbol of specific national or cultural groups. Within that framework, the course explores the relationship between sports and cultural imperialism, gender, discrimination, and peace. 

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