Cover image for Encyclopedia of world sport : from ancient times to the present
Encyclopedia of world sport : from ancient times to the present
Levinson, David, 1947-
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, 1999.

Physical Description:
xvii, 488 pages ; 26 cm
General Note:
Condensation of 3 vol. work published in 1996.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV567 .E55 1996 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
GV567 .E55 1996 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Spanning the wide world of sports, this volume is packed with everything you could possibly want to know about hundreds of sports. Along with detailed information on how sports are played around the world, the Encyclopedia of World Sport explores emotions and issues surrounding the sportinglife and looks at sport as an essential part of the human experience. Readers will find fascinating entries on baseball and badminton, tennis and takraw, as well as on an incredible range of activities played around the globe from ancient times up to the present. Lucid and authoritative, thiswork--called "the newest sporting bible" by The Times of London--covers every Olympic sport, obscure activities such as buzkashi and jousting, and indigenous games in dozens of nations. In addition to its coverage of individual sports, the Encyclopedia examines the history and evolution of sport as a societal institution as well as the events and influences shaping the contemporary sporting world. Entries provide unique coverage of aggression, ethics, sports psychology, media, lawand medicine, the development of women's sports, and the business and politics of modern sport. The Encyclopedia of World Sport is the definitive reference on the history, practice, and culture of sports throughout the world.

Author Notes

About the Editors: David Levinson is an anthropologist, editor in chief of the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, and a specialist in multicultural research. Karen Christensen is a journalist, professional reference book editor, and author of several environmental books. They both live in Massachusetts. Editorial Board: John Bale, Keele University, UK; Alyce Cheska, University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana; Garry Chick, University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana; Allen Guttmann, Amherst College; Richard Holt, Catholic University, Leuven, Belgium; Donald G. Kyle, University of Texas, Arlington; JohnW. Loy, University of Otago, New Zealand; Roberta J. Park, University of California, Berkeley. Contributors include leading sports historians, sociologists, anthropologists, geographers, and other scholars from around the world.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

What is sport? The editors of this comprehensive work define it as "a societal and cultural institution that is composed of a complex mix of individuals, activities, and material objects, as well as beliefs and values associated with the practice of sports." Sports, they note, consists of all the different types of sport. The activities they include are characterized by rules allowing a winner to be determined, victory as a primary goal, contention between two or more individuals or teams, and success determined by the relative physical ability of the competitors, although, as the editors point out, "strategy and chance may play a part." They have included sports such as animal racing; cockfighting; auto, air, and speedboat racing; and chariot racing. Philosophical discussions of coaching, ethics, and values are also included as separate articles. Anthropology, drugs and sports, disabled sports, competitions designed for various ethnic groups, religion, violence, and war games are among activities relevant to sport that are covered. Articles range from two to eight pages in length. They cover the origins and development of activities as well as the sport's status today. For example, the article Cycling discusses track and road racing in the nineteenth century, speed contests, motor pacing, cyclocross, touring events, time trialing, track cycling (the major element of the Olympic cycling program), road racing, the Olympic games, unrestricted bicycles, BMX, triathlons, mountain bicycle racing, women's cycling, and amateur and professional cycling. Each article is signed and includes a short, unannotated bibliography. Some articles have sidebars discussing an aspect of the sport (Roger Banister's account of his recordbreaking mile race, for example). Blackandwhite photos and playing-field diagrams are also included; however, the latter, while clear, are small. The bibliographies at the end of each article are cumulated into a comprehensive bibliography in the work's third volume. In addition to a fairly detailed table of contents, there is a detailed index. Copious see and see also references are included. It is important to note what the book does not contain. The editors state in their preface that they do not emphasize "sporting facts--events, winners, scores, averages, records, biographies, and accounts of performances" because this information is readliy available elsewhere. There are no biographies of athletes and others involved with sport. The people who have contributed may be named in articles, but they are not discussed at length. Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan are mentioned under the business of skating in the article Figure Skating, but Oksana Baiul is not. There are no lists of team or individual winners in major sporting events--for that information, the reader should consult an almanac. The article Olympic Games contains no lists of Olympic venues or medal winners. There are no descriptions of maneuvers that gymnasts and figure skaters must perform. The person looking for a description of a triple toe loop, for example, won't find it here. There are some minor errors. In the article Track and Field, Running and Hurdling, the author says that "[Carl Lewis] in 1988 in Los Angeles won the same events [Jesse] Owens had done in Berlin in 1936." The summer Olympics were in Los Angeles in 1984, not 1988. Florence Griffith-Joyner appears in the correct place in the index, but the index entry reads Florence Griffith-Joyner, not Griffith-Joyner, Florence. Minor shortcomings are insignificant relative to the importance of this encyclopedia. The overall quality of the work and its unique coverage make it an outstanding addition to academic, public, and school libraries.

Library Journal Review

This is the first edition of a new sports encyclopedia that will almost surely become one of the standards of the field. Each of the three volumes contains signed essays concerning various sports or sports topics. Sports entries range from acrobatics to yachting and attempt to give an international rather than just an American perspective. The coverage of sports topics is less comprehensive: in order to find any discussion of professionalism vs. amateurism, for instance, the reader must first refer to the index because no essay is devoted to the subject. However, there are the expected entries on current topics such as the Animal Rights Movement and sport psychology. The index is a well done and essential part of this encyclopedia. Any library that can afford the price should purchase this set. [This title was chosen as one of LJ's Best Reference Books of 1996; see p. 36-40.]‘Terry Jo Madden, Boise State Univ. Lib., Id. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up‘This three-volume set promotes itself as the "most comprehensive historical and cross-cultural survey of sport ever published," and justifiably so. While not the first place to turn to for biographical information, statistics, records, and rules, this scholarly yet comprehensible resource does a solid job of chronicling the history and societal impact of various sports from around the world. Alphabetically arranged from Acrobatics to Yachting, the 250 signed entries range in length from 500 to 8000 words; each one is followed by a bibliography. Some sports are presented under more than one heading, e.g., baseball has entries under Baseball, Finnish; Baseball, Japanese; Baseball, Latin America; and Baseball, North American. There are also topical entries such as Aggression, Ethics, Ritual, Technology, and Violence. Cross-referencing is extensive. A number of sidebars, diagrams, and black-and-white photographs appear throughout. Appendixes include a 48-page compilation of all the bibliographies that appear in the set, a list of the 150 contributors, and an extensive index. This encyclopedia will be of great value to students and will also appeal to sports-minded leisure readers. The emphasis on the history and societal influence of athletics will keep the set from quickly becoming dated as is often the case with sports reference books that rely heavily on statistics, scores, and records.‘Tom S. Hurlburt, La Crosse Public Library, WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

The editors leave to others the detailed description of rules and records that one might expect from the title. Rather, this set concerns itself with 300 sports (not games) and includes references to hundreds of other related activities. Although it includes descriptions of how the sports are played, along with basic rules and diagrams of playing surfaces, its more general aim is to explore and explain sport as a societal institution from four perspectives: sport in society, the culture of sport, sporting competition, and scholarly study of sport. The editors stress the global nature of sport and include a wide sampling from around the world, from acrobatics and buzkashi to shinty and yachting. The set also includes topical entries such as "Values," "Worker Sports," and "Drugs and Drug Testing." An excellent buy for general and undergraduate libraries wishing to expand access to the multicultural aspects of sport. T. A. Tollman; University of Nebraska at Omaha