SPORTS & RECREATION

The Athlete as National Symbol: Critical Essays on Sports in the International Arena

McFarland. Jan. 2020. 185p. ISBN 9781476671178. pap. $39.95. SPORTS
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Athletes expressing their political and social views may seem like a recent phenomenon, but hot-button issues have actually been deeply ingrained in sports for centuries. This collection of essays goes beyond the latest American-centered headlines to examine international and historical instances of political, racial, and gender disparity as reflected through sports, and most specifically nationalism: when athletes or sports become touchstones for larger issues. Editor Villanueva (ethnic studies, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder; The Lynching of Mexicans in the Texas Borderlands) compiles selections that offer a cohesive, though not all-encompassing, look at the power of athlete voice. Included are case studies of conflict and identity among countries, teams, and individuals, each serving as a microcosm for social change taking place off the field.
VERDICT The scholarly nature of these essays limits the appeal to an academic readership, but general sports fans looking to research beyond recent incidents will find this a rich resource. Ideal for college and postgraduate students interested in the history and overall scope of nationalism as reflected through athletes and the various sports they play.

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