Saturday, 8 October 2011

Sports History in the lead up to the Olympics

Like millions of others I was turned off participatory sport at school and there is no way at my age I am going to start getting involved just because the Olympics are on. Millions of course follow sport. I was one of those who was opposed to London bidding in the first place: we have already held two Olympics and if you read Graeme Kent's book Olympic Follies. The Madness and Mayhem of the 1908 London Games. A Cautionary Tale, you will see that the lessons of history have not been learnt. Despite my opposition I saw the potential for local authorities to foster interest in the history of sport and physical activity at local level.  I ended my talk at the launch of the 2009 Wandsworth Heritage Festival on Edwardian roller skating in the area by saying:

In conclusion I hope I have been able to show that like all specialist topics roller skating is another way of opening up a wider view of local history. The Olympics in 2012 give us an opportunity to look seriously at the local histories of sport and physical exercise.
Two interesting sports history conferences are coming up.

Sporting London History Conference
On Saturday 19 November LAMAS is holding its 46th Local History Conference on  Sporting London, 10am-5pm at the Weston Theatre, Museum of London. £8 for LAMAS members, £10 for non-members.  Talks include ‘Sports and Pastimes in Medieval London’, ‘Changing Attitudes to Exercise in Tudor & Stuart London’, ‘Cricket: the History of Lord’s 1787 Onwards’, ‘Rowing as a Way of Life: the Root & Branch of Rowing on London’s River’, ‘Young Women Gymnasts in East London’ and ‘London’s Olympic Yesterdays’. The LAMAS Publication’s Award will also be presented. Ticket applications via (select Local History Conference) or by writing to Pat Clarke, Local History Conference, 22 Malpas Driver, Pinner, Middlesex, HA5 1DQ. Please remember to enclose sae.
Sport in the City Conference. 25 November is the closing date for offers of talks at the Sport in the City Conference which will be held at the University of Westminster on 24 & 25 April next year. It will focus upon the nature and significance of sports and sporting arenas in the life of great cities.  The organisers hope to encourage a wide variety of contributors working on the following key themes:
Class and social control; ethnicity and sport; gender; sportswear, performance and the body; sporting arenas and facilities; sports and town planning issues; cities in relation to national and regional sports; international sporting events and urban regeneration; sports, spectacle and the place marketing of cities; sports and individual and collective identities; archives for sporting history and sports studies.
The scope is global: the organisers hope to receive proposals not only on Britain but on Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia.  The organisers are particularly interested in work being undertaken from the later nineteenth century to the present.  Academics from a wide range of disciplines, including history, sociology, geography, cultural studies, town planning, and architecture and the built environment, are welcome to send abstracts to: Dr. Mark Clapson, Reader in History,  University of Westminster. Deadline for abstracts of 300-400 words: 25 November, 2011

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