Not in the sense of athletes becoming stronger, speedier, savvier and smarter than ever before, nor in terms of the amazing access we have to live streams and stat feeds, to instant insights and opinionating, to the quirks and personalities of our celebrity heroes.
This, rather, is a golden age of sports in humanistic, historical terms. The truth is that the great majority of people today, willingly or not, have a direct and regular connection to organized and/or participatory sports in their everyday lives than anyone born before the 20th century.
In the United States, not a person alive can recall a time when sports was not a staple of the daily newspaper. For four generations, the notion that nightly news programs should devote up to one-quarter of their airtime to sports is taken for granted. Why do we take this for granted?
At Unpopular Essays on Sports History, everything is questionable.
Supposition: Those who play the games have ascended in the public eye to heights unimaginable in times past. Playing top-level sports can get today’s athlete into business, TV production, national politics – and just how did this happen?
At Unpopular Essays on Sports History, everything is up for examination.
Supposition: Sports – wherever they are played but particularly in these places where they are invented – effect culture, even pace it. One could argue that sports are more important than ever.
Corollary: Sports history, too, should be more important, yet is probably more disrespected and disavowed than ever.
At Unpopular Essays on Sports History, we love the past while marveling at the present, and wondering about the future.
The “unpopular essays” of the title is a nod to Bertrand Russell, the logical positivist and my favorite philosopher. (Plus it’s a great excuse to get my BA degree to finally pay off.) And as we’re taught in philosophy, It’s not about answering the questions; it’s about making them clearer.
Three days a week, Unpopular Essays on Sports History will examine a moment in sports history, probe some modern ethos of our games, or speculate on what the past can teach the future – and all in 500 words or less – though probably occasionally throwing in the occasional longer interview. We’ll tour the spaces and times of the whole wide world of sports history about as quickly as Secretariat ran the Belmont Stakes.
Supposition: Sports history is fascinating, illuminating and fun. Join me, Os Davis, in making the questions of sports history clearer right here an Unpopular Essays on Sports History, an SHN production.