- Handbuch Sportgeschichte
First of all, it must be said that for Hofmann Verlag to publish their own handbook on sport history within the well-established series “Articles on teaching and research in sport” in 2010 represents a long overdue and important venture and also a powerful sign of life in German sport historiography.
The present volume deals with the academic field of sport history, with its organization, development, and results as they are presented in Germany primarily within the context of sport scientific research. Teaching, research, and the presentation of body, movement, and sport history are rooted in the university physical education-teacher education of the nineteenth century. Sport history or, more precisely physical education history, can be seen as one of the foundation subjects of the “sport sciences” in the German-speaking realm. However the significance of sport history in the multidisciplinary context of the establishment of modern sport sciences roughly since the 1970s has gradually disappeared. [End Page 512] That is why it is all the more commendable that the handbook for sport history will give German historical sport research an important stimulus.
Contributing to the present book, which is 422 pages long, are twenty-two largely renowned and established mainly German—but also international—historians. The volume is divided into four chapters with a total of forty-one articles. The conclusion is in a separate appendix and service section with a collection of chronological data on the history of sport in Germany from the beginnings to the present, a specialist bibliography as well as a directory of relevant internet sites to archives, museums and online databases.
The order of chapters in the volume is coherent and clearly laid out. The book starts with a thematic introduction that introduces the objectives of the handbook. Thus, the aim is “to cover the fundamental topics and areas of sport history in a succinct and academically sound manner” (p. 7). The intended target audience is sport students, sport scientists, journalists, functionaries, and hobby historians. The publishers see the primary objective of the handbook to be “making science-based sport history understandable” (p. 9).
The opening section, which is entitled “A—Basics”, firstly reflects on the actual subject and the genesis of German sport historiography from the “physical education historiography” up to today but also provides an overview of the connection to several international developments.
The section “B—Theories” focuses on specific theoretical approaches to sport history beginning with an overview of sport source theories (Wolfgang Decker). Allen Guttmann, for example, contributes a boldly compressed, chronological longitudinal cut of sport development from its prehistory to the post-modern from a global-historical point of view. He manages to put various aspects into perspective quite originally—such as religion and sport, quantification, sport and gender, nationalism and the relationship of traditional “folk games” to modern sport. In this chapter Michael Krüger gives an overview of one of the most powerful fundamental theories to strongly influence sport-historical research up to today, through Norbert Elias’ theory of figuration, which in the 1930s already told us that “knowledge about sport [is] knowledge about society”(p. 88).
Section “C—Epochs” gives a traditionally structured overall picture of the most important chapters in sport history. Ingomar Weiler begins with a piece, “The Athletics and Agonistics of Greek Antiquity.” Hans Langefeld illuminates the “Sport history of the Roman era.” Then, through the Middle Ages, the modern age, British sport, the account is finally developed in Germany in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which are given a broader stage.
Section “D—Subjects” deals with fifteen chosen subject areas such as the history of different types of sport, the workers’ sport movement; the Olympic movement; sport in schools, companies, the military; sport for the elderly; the history of doping; the subject area of sport and gender from a historical perspective (Gertrud Pfister) and many more. A separate chapter in this section acknowledges the importance of regional historical examinations, of club or local histories (Hans Langenfeld). This seems...