Sports history: Outside of the mainstream? a response to wards last man picked

Matthew L. McDowell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay is a response to Paul Wards piece Last Man Picked. Do Mainstream Historians Need to Play with Sports Historians? (The International Journal of the History of Sport (2012), doi:10.1080/09523367.2012.726617). While Ward admits that his work is a polemic and is inspired largely by events in his youth, this response nevertheless questions the decision to critique an entire sub-discipline based on childhood experiences. Wards criticisms, however, are also practice-based, and this response also critically examines the lack of fresh evidence to support Wards claims regarding sports historys existence outwith mainstream historical academia, and its supposed privileged place within the wider world of leisure history. The author makes that case that not only does sports history to take part in a wider historical dialogue, but must necessarily look to engage with sports studies practitioners. Finally, in the face of Wards criticisms, this essay reiterates what makes sport a vital subject for historians, in regional, national and international contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-22
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Issue number1
Early online date8 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2013


  • historiography
  • history of leisure
  • history of sport
  • sports studies


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