Last Sunday evening while watching the men’s 100m final at the Olympic Games, I realised how perfectly normal it is anno 2012 to enjoy such an Olympic final with exclusively black athletes competing in it. Just think – to name the most notorious case – about the commotion caused by the participation and particularly by the successes of American Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
Yet, wait a moment: is it really “perfectly normal” by now? How do race and sport relate to each other, not only during major international competitions, but in everyday life as well, at sport schools and clubs? Is there any literature on the topic?
A simple search run in the catalogue of the UvA-Library with search terms ‘sport’ and ‘race’ retrieves 13 titles. Sport and challenges to racism from 2010 is full-text online at Palgrave (on-campus, yet see here to gain off-campus access as UvA-student or -employee), while both the recent Sport: race, ethnicity and identity: building global understanding (2012) and Race, sport and the American dream , from 2007, are available at the Bushuis Library.
These books can give us some inspiration if we wish to turn our curiosity into a search topic. We may think of a geographical limit, as suggested by the book over the ‘American dream’ or – speaking of the Netherlands – by a chapter in the e-book: Thinking ‘Race’ and Ethnicity in (Dutch) Sports Policy and Research.
Other possibilities to focus the topic are the type of sport (basket, cricket, football) and the period (nazi Germany, apartheid South Africa). And what about the (social) actors involved, when race and sport matter? Professional athletes or amateurs, sports journalists, the International Olympic Comittee, hooligans, local sport clubs?
Should you want to learn more on how to define a search topic and find scholarly literature, then you might be interested in the Library Skills workshops offered by the UvA-Library: take a look here for the course schedule (both English and Dutch classes are offered).
Photo: FAMU athlete Robert Hayes practices running on the track – Tallahassee, Florida, 1962. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. FAMU is the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.