Books from "Sports and History Series"


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Sports have been played far longer than there have been written words to record their existence. By the time they were first alluded to in art or writing they were already highly developed. Gods wrestled for control of the universe in Sumeria, ancient Greeks made training in athletics a part of every citizen's education. In some cultures, such training has been restricted to elites. Japanese Samurai forbade martial arts to peasants out of fear; mere distaste for competing with the lower classes led to the Victorian insistence on amateurism that underlies the modern Olympic games. But in nearly every place and period sport has played a significant cultural role.

Yet, though this fact is recognized in theory, few historians, anthropologists, or psychologists have given it serious attention. The Sports and History Series, inaugurated with Michael Poliakoff's Combat Sports in the Ancient World, is designed to demonstrate that systematic study of sport as a fundamental human activity can illuminate the character of particular societies and of human nature itself.

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