rusq: Vol. 52 Issue 3: p. 269
Sources: Sports Around the World: History, Culture, and Practice
John Maxymuk

Head of Public Services, Rutgers University, Camden, New Jersey

ABC-CLIO first published a reference work on world sports in 1996 with Levinson and Christensen’s Encyclopedia of World Sport: From Ancient Times to the Present, a three-volume set that featured entries on hundreds of individual sports. That work was reimagined under the same editors by Berkshire Publishing in 2005 as the Berkshire Encyclopedia of World Sport, with additional entries on the social and cultural aspects of world sports. That set is about to go into a third edition in 2013. Meanwhile, ABC-CLIO returns to world sport with this Nauright and Parrish four-volume work.

Following an introductory section of general articles in volume 1 on such topics as Imperialism and Sport, Sexuality and Sports, and Sports Medicine, this set is organized geographically: volume 1 covers Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania; volume 2 covers Britain and Europe; and volume 3 covers Latin America and North America; while volume 4 is a series of appendixes that list all Olympic medalists as well as winners and champions in other international competitions and both college and professional leagues across the globe.

The sections for each geographical area feature alphabetically arranged articles pertaining to the region. For example, the section on the British Isles includes pieces on sports (Cricket, Darts, Tug-of-War), organizations (Gaelic Athletic Association, Imperial Cricket Council, Marylebone Cricket Club), teams and leagues (The Old Firm, Premier League, Rugby League), places (Murrayfield Stadium, Wembley, Wimbledon), events (Doggett’s Coat and Badge, Hampden Park Riot of 1909, Olympic Games of 1908, 1948 and 2012), people (Sir Stanley Matthews, Harry Vardon, David Beckham), cultural artifacts (Chariots of Fire, Footballers’ Wives, This Sporting Life), and topics (Gender and Sport, Hooliganism, Muscular Christianity). In this unusual arrangement, the sport of baseball, for example, has fourteen region-specific entries spread across three volumes.

As always with this type of work, selectivity decisions can be puzzling at times. It seems that entries are selected for their cultural significance. So we get Wilt Chamberlin, Michael Jordan, and LeBron James but not Bill Russell, Larry Bird, or Magic Johnson; Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, but not Barry Bonds; Johnny Unitas and Joe Namath but not Joe Montana or Tom Brady; the Green Bay Packers but not the Chicago Bears; and Vince Lombardi, but not George Halas or Paul Brown.

Perhaps the greatest weight is given to international competitions, especially the Olympic Games. In addition to entries on each summer and winter Olympics, we also get items on the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan Scandal and the Ben Johnson Scandal as well as on several Olympic athletes and administrators. The 850 entries were written by an army of researchers and academics, and each contains a list of further readings. Nauright and Parrish have done a yeoman’s job of maintaining the quality and stylistic consistency throughout this massive set. The work also includes an overall bibliography and an index.

The academic approach to sport with its emphasis on social and cultural prisms is not for everyone, but this multivolume work is thoroughly researched and professionally written. As a reference source, this set will be most useful in a university setting and is recommended for scholarly sports collections.



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