What's the Point of Sports History?

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries]On: 20 December 2014, At: 01:57Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>The International Journal of theHistory of SportPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/fhsp20</p><p>What's the Point of Sports History?Martin Johnes aa Swansea University , Swansea , UKPublished online: 30 Jan 2013.</p><p>To cite this article: Martin Johnes (2013) What's the Point of Sports History?, The InternationalJournal of the History of Sport, 30:1, 102-108, DOI: 10.1080/09523367.2012.747196</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09523367.2012.747196</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (theContent) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis,our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as tothe accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors,and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Contentshould not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sourcesof information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims,proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoeveror howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to orarising out of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp;Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/fhsp20http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080/09523367.2012.747196http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09523367.2012.747196http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionshttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>Whats the Point of Sports History?</p><p>Martin Johnes*</p><p>Swansea University, Swansea, UK</p><p>The humanities in higher education are under attack. There may not be a deliberate andconcerted effort to undermine their provision and development within universities butthe direction of current policy is certainly undermining their stability and well being asan intellectual pursuit. Using the example of sports history, this paper considerswhether public expenditure on academic history is justified and it explores some of theways the subdiscipline might develop in response to the shifting sands of both publicpolicy and public interest.</p><p>Keywords: sports; history; universities; higher education</p><p>Higher education in the UK stands on the brink of a crisis. The introduction of 9000 per</p><p>annum fees in most Higher Education Institutions in England and Wales will probably</p><p>radically change students expectations of what universities should provide them with</p><p>(although there is the possibility that students will continue to behave as they do now, with</p><p>the only change being the size of their debts at the end). But higher fees are certainly</p><p>changing the planning that occurs within universities. The removal of direct state funding</p><p>for degrees in the arts and humanities is causing questions to be asked about whether those</p><p>degrees are sustainable. Rather than waiting to find out whether people are prepared to pay</p><p>the higher fees that are supposed to replace the lost state funding, some universities are</p><p>simply closing the courses they suspect will not attract students in enough numbers.</p><p>History degrees are already amongst the causalities. Within sports studies degrees, social</p><p>science and humanities approaches are under threat and are being marginalised in favour</p><p>of the more obviously vocational approaches that are assumed to be more attractive to</p><p>students.</p><p>Questions of research funding are also likely to change in the new environment. Most</p><p>research in the humanities is not paid for by funds directly allocated to universities for</p><p>research activities (whats called quality related money). Nor is most of it paid for by</p><p>external grants from the research councils. Most research activity takes place in an</p><p>academics office, home or local library and in the summer when it does not require relief</p><p>from normal teaching duties. Yes, there are trip to archives and so forth but even these are</p><p>often paid for by the academics themselves. Most of the research time is not spent in the</p><p>ISSN 0952-3367 print/ISSN 1743-9035 online</p><p>q 2013 Taylor &amp; Francis</p><p>http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09523367.2012.747196</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com</p><p>*Email: m.johnes@swan.ac.uk</p><p>The International Journal of the History of Sport</p><p>Vol. 30, No. 1, January 2013, 102108</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>olor</p><p>ado </p><p>at B</p><p>ould</p><p>er L</p><p>ibra</p><p>ries</p><p>] at</p><p> 01:</p><p>57 2</p><p>0 D</p><p>ecem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p><p>http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09523367.2012.747196http://www.tandfonline.com</p></li><li><p>field so to speak. It is thus paid for out of the normal salary budgets and thus ultimately</p><p>subsidised by the monies universities receive to teach students. This can be justified staff</p><p>who are not research active are simply transmitters of knowledge rather than interpreters</p><p>and creators of that knowledge. The research expertise of staff should feed into the</p><p>quality of their teaching, and this is what funding councils are paying for and what future</p><p>students will be paying for. But, assuming that students develop a more consumer-like</p><p>attitude, the benefits of being taught by research-active staff will need to be communicated</p><p>to them.</p><p>So essentially what is happening in higher education is that the cost of both teaching</p><p>and researching history is being passed from the taxpayer to the student, who presumably</p><p>will start to ask far more questions and demand far more answers about why and what they</p><p>get in return.</p><p>The defences of the arts and humanities have already begun. They centre on the idea</p><p>that the humanities creates more rounded and enlightened individuals and thus societies,</p><p>that they help understand the implications and impacts of complex scientific and economic</p><p>problems and questions and that they help teach the transferable skills that all employers</p><p>and societies require and need. But, as well as such utilitarian outlooks, there remains the</p><p>idea that research in the humanities matters for its own sake.</p><p>I accept all these premises but not everyone feels they are compatible or justifiable.</p><p>Some academics feel teaching skills are not what universities are about, that our role is not</p><p>supplement or remediate what high schools should be doing. Some feel that using the past</p><p>to shed light on present-day problems is an abuse of that past, that it is misguided and</p><p>ultimately even impossible since the past is so varied that it is possible to draw from</p><p>history whatever lessons you want. Some feel that studying something for its own sake,</p><p>because it is there or because it might create a more enlightened society, is idealism,</p><p>an idealism that is wholly out of place in an era of tightening public finances, especially</p><p>when the cost of that is being borne not by wider society but by individuals within that</p><p>society.</p><p>What I am going to do is consider some of these ideas from the perspective of sports</p><p>history and I want to do so not by arguing that it is wrong that students should be paying for</p><p>sports history (although I do, on the whole, think it is wrong) but from the position of</p><p>accepting the current political reality. Ultimately, I want to argue that sports history can</p><p>still have a purpose, that it is worth paying for, but that some shifts in mindsets and culture</p><p>are required to make that apparent.</p><p>First, let me take the idea that research creates a more enlightened society. It is very</p><p>easy to resort to cliches about societies without memories being soulless, lost and adrift.</p><p>But most cliches are cliches because they contain more than a grain of truth.</p><p>Understanding a place or a culture within the western world does require an understanding</p><p>of sport. Sport is part of our collective biography; it has helped make nations, cities and</p><p>communities. It has played a central role in individuals lives. Its history also matters</p><p>simply because it mattered to people in the past. Sports historians have been saying this for</p><p>decades as they try to justify their existence and work to their peers in the wider field of</p><p>history. That case still needs to be made because there still can be some antipathy towards</p><p>studying sports history from the so-called proper or mainstream historians. But now we</p><p>have to make that case, not just to our peers but to the wider public too.</p><p>For that to happen, the public needs to be able to read the work that sports historians</p><p>produce. The lack of public access to academic research is frankly a disgrace. Taxpayers</p><p>fund university research but are then charged to access it. And it is not cheap. In 2012, the</p><p>IJHS costs 289 for a years print subscription and 1222 for a years online subscription.</p><p>The International Journal of the History of Sport 103</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>olor</p><p>ado </p><p>at B</p><p>ould</p><p>er L</p><p>ibra</p><p>ries</p><p>] at</p><p> 01:</p><p>57 2</p><p>0 D</p><p>ecem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>Downloading a one-off article costs 23. This is beyond the means of many university</p><p>libraries, let alone the public. Academic books are no better. Sixty pounds for a single</p><p>book might have been justifiable in the past given the short print runs and production costs,</p><p>but electronic publishing should have changed that. And yet even electronic editions </p><p>free of printing and material costs are ridiculously expensive. There are moves afoot in</p><p>the UK to bring about open access publishing, by making journals free to access but</p><p>charging authors to publish in them. This has some advantages but it will leave journals</p><p>run by scholarly societies in an awkward position and disenfranchise independent</p><p>researchers who are not affiliated to a university willing to pay the publication cost.</p><p>If we want people to believe that our research matters then we have to make it easy</p><p>for them to read our work. The Internet offers huge possibilities. Here, sports history is</p><p>further ahead than much of the history field, thanks to the wonderful digital library of</p><p>LA84 which makes available, for free, back issues of sports history journals belonging</p><p>to societies.1</p><p>But, peoples ambitions for research assessment exercises mean that the best sports</p><p>history is often published in mainstream rather than sports history journals, and thus it is</p><p>often up to the authors themselves to make their work available and that can mean</p><p>sidestepping the world of journals. At the risk of sounding like an advert, Academia.edu is</p><p>a free and easy to use resource that allows this.2 Our articles can easily be uploaded and</p><p>become freely available for not just anyone looking for them but more importantly for</p><p>people looking for information on the topics they discuss. The more you put up, the more</p><p>the site shows on searches for terms and topics within your papers. The author is able to</p><p>see download counts and what search terms have led people to those papers.</p><p>The copyright restrictions used by journal publishers can present something of a</p><p>difficulty when papers published elsewhere are reproduced on the site. When you publish</p><p>in a journal you usually have to sign over the copyright to the publishers, although they do</p><p>not pay you for it. However, the contractual small print sometimes allows you to use pre-</p><p>publication versions online or you might just risk ignoring the copyright issue. If journal</p><p>publishers are going to start suing authors for distributing their own work, then there will</p><p>be a backlash that will almost certainly cause the end of the current publishing model for</p><p>journals.</p><p>Of course there are downsides to placing information online. It is easily abused by</p><p>students (although plagiarism software discourages that) or others. Work I have done on</p><p>archery has been reproduced on peoples websites without my permission, although at</p><p>least my name was left on as the credited author. Worse, an essay I wrote on a 1920sWelsh</p><p>soccer star called Fred Keenor was reproduced on a site about the history of the club he</p><p>played for without credit to me whatsoever. More annoying than the slight to my fragile</p><p>ego was the fact that the article was not quite reproduced in its entirety. The sections that</p><p>discussed his failings as a man and a footballer were left out to present a more</p><p>straightforward heroic picture of the player.</p><p>Yet, ultimately, these are trivial complaints. I would like to think that my research on</p><p>Fred Keenor has in some small way contributed to the determination of fans of Cardiff</p><p>City to honour him with a statue at the clubs new stadium. I cannot prove that happened</p><p>but the fact that anyone Googling his name comes up with my article, which they can read</p><p>for free, makes this surely more likely than had that article been hidden behind a paywall</p><p>or not been online at all.</p><p>Ultimately sports historians, like most academics in the humanities, have been slow to</p><p>see the possibilities of the Internet for promoting their work and their research. They do</p><p>not put their work out there. How many of us have edited Wikipedia entries, even if only to</p><p>104 M. Johnes</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>olor</p><p>ado </p><p>at B</p><p>ould</p><p>er L</p><p>ibra</p><p>ries</p><p>] at</p><p> 01:</p><p>57 2</p><p>0 D</p><p>ecem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>put links to our work on there? At one level, this is egotistical but if we are serious about</p><p>claims that our research contributes to a more enlightened society, then turning our back</p><p>on the globes most used source of knowledge is silly. Despite what we tell our students</p><p>about not using it, Wikipedia matters.</p><p>There are other pragmatic reasons to promote our research online. Students who pay</p><p>fees are paying for access to universities physical resources but more than anything they</p><p>are paying for access to academics. The demand for more contact time is thus already</p><p>rising, but students will surely also begin to want to know more about the academics at a</p><p>university before they choose it. When they research this then actually being able to access</p><p>our work is an advantage over just being able to see a list of publications on a website. If</p><p>they can access videos of us teaching or discussing our research, then so much the better.</p><p>And why stop there? As finances tighten we have to make choices about which</p><p>conferences we attend. In the modern connected globe, conference participation should</p><p>not have to rely on actually being there. If conference organisers want to promote their</p><p>events and speakers want to promote their papers, then they need to be put online.</p><p>So, to loop back to the main theme, if we want to argue that history he...</p></li></ul>