Successfully reported this slideshow.
Book Reviews
Sport History Review, 2009, 40, 197-205
© 2009 Human Kinetics, Inc.

The 1940 Tokyo Games: The Missing Oly...
198    Book Reviews

translator for CBS television field crews covering the Nagano Olympic Winter
Games of 1998. Much of ...
Book Reviews       199

They are (or would have been) the Games of the 12th Olympiad, but not the XIIth
Olympic Games. Pe...
200     Book Reviews

of cultural distinctiveness. Ireland, is this sense, arguably provides a unique test
case. Though t...
Book Reviews     201

that the first sustained attempts to regulate folk games under ‘Gaelic’ rules were
made. In this ca...
202    Book Reviews

between various sections of the book as the various “approaches” and “theories” are
adequately refer...
Book Reviews     203

      Coad’s timely and original book traces the origins of the metrosexual phe-
nomenon from its a...
204    Book Reviews

becoming an openly gay “sex object” marketed to straight men. Both in their early
20s, Phelps and Mi...
Book Reviews        205

     This text is a formidable work. The breadth of the treatment, and the sheer
mass of the pub...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5

Metrosexual book review


Published on

My book review on David Coad's The Metrosexual: Gender, Sexuality, and Sport was published in the November 2009 issue of Sport History Review.

Published in: Education, Technology, Sports
  • Be the first to comment

Metrosexual book review

  1. 1. Book Reviews Sport History Review, 2009, 40, 197-205 © 2009 Human Kinetics, Inc. The 1940 Tokyo Games: The Missing Olympics—Japan, the Asian Olympics and the Olympic Movement By Sandra Collins. Published in 2007 by Routledge (198 pp., $130.00). Reviewed by Robert K. Barney, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada Everyone who has studied the history of the modern Olympic Games knows that the Games of the 6th Olympiad scheduled for Berlin in 1916 and the Games of the 12th Olympiad slated for Tokyo in 1940 were cancelled, as were the Games of the 13th Olympiad scheduled for 1944. Few, however, know much about the reasons for scrubbing them other than a World War somehow impinged on each cancella- tion case. We should have expected a book written by a German Olympic scholar on the “1916 Games that never were” to have appeared long before now. To date, history is largely blank on that episode, one which saw the beginning of planning and construction for what unfolded twenty years later as the controversial but nevertheless spectacular “Nazi Games.” Given that the next “cancelled Olympic Games” were originally awarded to Tokyo, few would have expected a detailed research effort on the subject to be produced by an American scholar whose first language is English. But, that is exactly what has come to pass with Sandra Collins’ The 1940 Tokyo Games: The Missing Olympics. The result is a notable achievement and a significant contribution towards piecing together the scarce corpus of serious histories of individual Olympic festivals. Of course, one might ask the question, as did the author herself: “Why a history of a non-event?” As Collins herself explains: “the 1940 Tokyo Olympic Games functioned as a misplaced and misunderstood event within the narrative of develop- ment in the history of the Olympic Games . . . [they] were pivotal to the histories of modern Japan and the Olympic Movement.” Therein reposes the fundamental reason for “why.” The 1940 Tokyo Games never happened, but the history of the idea itself, the bid to truly internationalize the Games from the monopoly of Europe and America, the celebration of their award to the second largest city in the world at the time, and their eventual demise from ever becoming an event, all of this, set against Japan’s posture in 1930s Far East culture, international politics, and mani- fest destiny in a Japanese sense, provide the grist for Collins’ penetrating study. The reader should be aware of some facts about Sandra Collins. From the moment she entered the University of Chicago as an undergraduate in the early 1980s her bent was East Asian Languages and Civilization, with specific reference to Japan. Almost 20 years later she emerged from Chicago with a PhD in Japanese History. Her doctoral dissertation, supervised by the distinguished professor of Japanese History, Tetsuko Najita, launched her into the world of Japanese Olympic affairs.1 Along the way, from undergraduate studies, through a master’s degree in Modern Japanese History, and eventually her PhD, she studied at Japan’s Inter- national Christian University in Mikita and the Kumamoto National University in Kumamoto. She became fluent in Japanese, good enough to act as an interpreter/ 197
  2. 2. 198 Book Reviews translator for CBS television field crews covering the Nagano Olympic Winter Games of 1998. Much of her research activity was supported by such prestigious funding institutions as the Woodrow Wilson, Fulbright-Hayes, and Mellon Foun- dations. For the past several years she has held a teaching position as Temporary Lecturer at San Francisco State University. The supreme quality of this book is its research component, a vast catalogue of Japanese primary source material in the form of official reports, min of meet- ings, private letters and memoranda, and Japanese newspapers of the period, all translated personally by Collins. For Finnish, German and French sources she needed help. She complemented her research journeys with work at the mecca of Olympic research records, the IOC Archives in Lausanne. So what exactly does this admirable research journey tell us? Roughly, the book is organized along linear lines: (1) how the idea of hosting the 1940 Olympic Games arose in Tokyo, coupled with Japanese domestic politics in trying to gain consensus support for the idea, (2) the international politics involved in bidding for the Games, including confrontation with co-bidders in Europe (Rome, Helsinki and London), and winning the bid in upset fashion, (3) the rise of Japanese militarism and its effect on hosting the Games, (4) the sad particulars surrounding Japan’s “return” of the Games to the IOC, and (5) how the entire scenario paid dividends for Japan in her post-World War II quest to garner the 1964 Games, which, in the end, Tokyo did indeed celebrate and, it might be added, to world wide acclaim. Final Judgements The sterling qualities of Collins’ book outweigh the weaknesses in overwhelm- ing fashion. The prose is tight, direct, and lucid. The sources, reflected in a total of 786 endnotes, are every bit as interesting to digest as the written text. Through a variety of avenues, Collins has been able to gather a solid body of illustrative material, including pictures of individuals critical to the analysis. Japanese news- paper cartoons lend an attractive dimension to the study, both for their humor and appropriate application to the historical account. Though miniscule in the greater scheme of things, there are some shortcom- ings. Some of them concern the publisher’s production of the book. For instance, five pages at the front have nothing to do with the book—they advertise the entire corpus of books Routledge has published in the socio-cultural study of sport. Two pages contain a “Foreword” by J. A. Mangan and Boria Majumdar, editors of Routledge’s Sport in Global Society Series. I would expect a “foreword” to say something about the book in which it appears. This one mentions nothing in that regard; rather it renders only further testimony to the “worth” of the Global Society Series. The book’s index is both sparse (3+ pages) and incomplete for a monograph of this nature. There are several typos, doubled words, and words missing. The copyediting by Routledge on this book left something to be desired. On the author’s part, Collins demonstrates some naiveté with regard to her discussion of the torch relay, embracing traditional German romantic rationaliza- tions on the subject, rationalizations which have been severely challenged.2 Then, too, Collins consistently errs in her use of the word Olympiad. An Olympiad is a period of four years, not a singular event. And, when Collins refers to the 1940 Tokyo Games as the “XIIth Olympic Games,” they are, of course, only the XIth.
  3. 3. Book Reviews 199 They are (or would have been) the Games of the 12th Olympiad, but not the XIIth Olympic Games. Peculiarly, Collins several times uses the word “article” when she really means “chapter.” Out and out gaffes are: (1) the 1908 Games being in Paris (p. 8); (2) Russia being prohibited from participating in the1920 Games (p. 17—Collins must have meant the Central Powers); (3) the 1928 Games being in Stockholm (p. 81); (4) the “first Olympic flame burning the whole duration of the Amsterdam Games” (p. 124—it only burned during the daytime, except for ceremonial occasions conducted at night); (5) there was no “Olympic flame” at ancient Olympia, simply a prytaneion flame as in the prytaneion (town hall) of all Greek towns and villages (p. 124); (6) the 1936 “flame kindling ceremony” at Olympia “ took place at the temple of Hera, not Zeus (p. 125); (7) are two tsubo (tatami mats) really the equivalent of 3,954 square yards? (p. 136); (8) it’s doubt- ful that Carl Diem was inspired by events in antiquity for his torch relay concept, regardless of what German scholars claim (p. 139); (9) it was not the Temple of Hellas, but rather the Temple Of Hera, where the flame was lit (p. 184); (10) it’s TOP (The Olympic Partners), not TOPP (p. 190); and (11) Ren Hai, the Chinese scholar, is a “he,” not a “her” (p. 193). To be fair, some of this must be laid at the foot of Routledge’s copy-editing, or the less than rigorous work of the scholarly reviewers of the manuscript, of which there were two. Despite these minor glitches, this is a marvelous piece of work. I have argued elsewhere that the best works on single Olympic Games festivals result from doctoral dissertations, where work is supervised closely, material is “hashed and re-hashed,” arguments debated and re-debated, and where scholarly rigor is the central theme. Collins’ book is a superb case in point. In my mind, The 1940 Tokyo Games: The Missing Olympics joins the star-quality scholarship of Kevin Witherspoon to form a duo of outstanding studies on singular editions of the Modern Olympic Games.3 Each of them, in my opinion, outranks the popularly judged classic of the genre, Richard Mandell’s book on the 1936 Nazi Games. Notes 1. Sandra Collins, “Orienting the Olympics: Japan and the Games of 1940,” Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Chicago, 2003. 2. See Robert K. Barney and Anthony J. Bijkerk, “The Genesis of Sacred Fire in Olympic Ceremony – A New Interpretation,” Journal of Olympic History, Vol. 13, No. 2, 2005, pp. 6-27. 3. Kevin B. Witherspoon, Before the Eyes of the World: Mexico and the 1968 Olympic Games (DeKalb, Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press, 2008). Emigrant Players: Sport and the Irish Diaspora Edited by Paul Darby and David Hassan. Published in 2008 by Routledge (213 pp., $15.95 US). Reviewed by Liam O’Callaghan, Leeds Metropolitan University One fundamental historical problem that scholars face when assessing the function of sport in migrant communities is the tension between assimilation and maintenance
  4. 4. 200 Book Reviews of cultural distinctiveness. Ireland, is this sense, arguably provides a unique test case. Though the pioneers of Gaelic games liberally borrowed British methods of sporting codification and bureaucratisation, they managed to create a mass sport- ing organisation almost completely cloaked in the discourse of indigenousness, governing the ‘native’ sports of Gaelic football and hurling and employing Irish nationhood as a guiding principle. In addition, by the mid-1880s the Gaelic Athletic Association was easily the most popular sporting body in the country. Those Irish emigrants inclined towards participation in sports, therefore, historically have had a genuine choice between assimilating to the host country’s sporting practices or exporting their own country’s unique pastimes and the cultural connotations that went with them. A keen awareness of this issue informs the structure and subject matter of the collection under review with the book being divided into two sec- tions: the first containing six chapters on the Irish Diaspora and Gaelic sport and the second addressing the Irish Diaspora and global sport in four chapters. Given the heterogeneity of the Irish Diaspora as an historical phenomenon, the scope of the collection is ambitious. Not only is a multi-disciplinary approach taken, but the volume covers a broad sweep both in terms of chronology and contexts. The bulk of the contributors take a socio-historical approach and though the subject matter of these chapters varies greatly in terms of time and place, the strength of the book lies in the fact that a relatively coherent set of historical trends and issues can be derived from such diverse research. We see, conclusively, for instance in the respective chapters by Paul Darby and Joseph Bradley that the vitality of Gaelic games among the Irish populations of New York and Scotland was dependent on new waves of migrants and that in periods of reduced Irish migration to these loca- tions, second generation Irish (in common with most Irish migrants in any case) showed a tendency towards assimilation by abandoning Gaelic games in favour of local sports. In addition perceived anti-Irish feeling could stunt the progress of Gaelic games across an array of contexts—from economic migrants to America in the nineteenth century to Irish students in British universities in the second half of the twentieth century (as illustrated in the fascinating chapter by McAnallen, Mossey and Moore). Another derivable theme from the book is the manner in which different ideas of nationality, and in this case ‘Irishness’ can be exported and repackaged in different sporting contexts. Promoting nationality was not monopolised by the GAA and as is illustrated through Bradley’s work on Celtic Football club in Scotland and Ryan and Wamsley’s chapter in Irish identity in Toronto, it is clear that a strong sense of ‘Irishness’ could also be promoted through the sporting activities of the host nation. Bearing these themes in mind, the book clearly builds upon Mike Cronin’s work Sport and Nationalism in Ireland: Gaelic Games, Soccer and Irish identity since 1884, (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1999) which examines competing expressions of nationality through sport in the context of events on the island itself. Given the successful and lucid interweaving of themes in the chapters with an historical emphasis, the inclusion of the ethnographic and psychological chap- ters by McCarthy and Free respectively upset the flow and focus of the book and though fine as stand alone pieces, they do not make substantive contributions to the key historical issues at hand. The book also contains some factual anomalies. McCarthy’s reference to ‘Gaelic sport’ being played in Australia from the 1840s could lead one to believe that such sports properly existed before 1884—the year
  5. 5. Book Reviews 201 that the first sustained attempts to regulate folk games under ‘Gaelic’ rules were made. In this case, the sporting activity referred to was likely to have been semi- regulated at best and bereft of the political associations that the properly codified Gaelic sports would acquire after 1884. One further factual misrepresentation occurs in the McAnallen et al chapter, where the description of non-Gaelic sports as ‘Anglophile’ carries potentially misleading connotations. These slight bugbears aside, however, this is a very useful collection that should be of considerable inter- est to historians of Irish sport and the Irish Diaspora alike. Hunting for Empire: Narratives of Sport in Rupert’s Land, 1840-70 By Greg Gillespie. Published in 2008 by the University of British Columbia Press (200 pp., $32.95 US). Reviewed by S.P. Morris, The Ohio State University. Hunting for Empire is a cultural history of hunting, travel writing, and empire. The book is vastly interdisciplinary and firmly deconstructionist. Drawing on primary sources from mid-19th century big-game hunters in the Western interior of Rupert’s Land the book examines the themes of authorship, sport, science, and nature in separate but dependent chapters, each under the broader theme of imperialism. The expressed intent is “to write the British empire, and in this specific case, big-game hunters, back into the history of British imperialism in Canada” (p. xxvii). This much and more is accomplished. The interdisciplinary nature of the book is a strength to the extent that it allows a thoroughly contextualized presentation of the narratives in question. Keen insights are drawn throughout book with regard to the usually-obvious yet sometimes-subtle manifestations of class, gender, and race in the narratives under interrogation. The more broadly conceptualized themes of dispossession and appropriation are nicely fore-grounded through the duration of the text allowing the careful reader a multi-dimensional lens through which to read the texts. While the four central chapters of the book are contextually depen- dent they have the potential to stand-alone. Ultimately the theme of sport hunting is subordinate to imperialism per the broader theme of the book but the chapter devoted to it (Chapter 3: “Cry Havoc? British Imperial Hunting Culture”) stands out as a particularly interesting selection for scholars of sports, and sports histo- rians in particular. It is also the only selection from the book, save some brief but important comments and footnotes in other chapters, to step outside the bounds of an anthropocentric analysis, which in my view, is an important contribution to a growing discourse on interspecies “sport.” Paradox is a recurrent theme of the book. Paradox and irony are often bed- fellows. The interdisciplinary nature of the book is, in my view, a paradoxical weakness. While it adds breadth and context to the historical analysis it also manifests, occasionally, in the form of ambiguity within the text. No less than a dozen “approaches” or “theories” traverse the stage on which the book unfolds. Readers without an exceptionally broad epistemological foundation will not likely detect and/or follow some of the more nuanced arguments and connections drawn
  6. 6. 202 Book Reviews between various sections of the book as the various “approaches” and “theories” are adequately referenced but go without explanation. The text is brief, yet redundant at times; thus readers may have stood to gain more through a more prudential use of space (e.g., introducing theory and subsequently reducing potential ambiguity). Furthermore, there is an admission of weakness in placing emphatic importance on such a limited selection of primary sources and a certain contradiction (rather than a paradox) in claiming that these narratives “cry out for historical scrutiny” (p. 10) immediately prior to conducting what is, for better or worse, a thorough deconstruction of said texts. In other words, there is a certain contradiction in claim- ing an important historical role for these narratives, and then subjecting them to historical deconstruction. If this is yet another paradox rather than a contradiction, then it is not sufficiently illustrated. The book, however, weaves a fascinating web for any scholar interested in imperialism, 19th century Canadian/British history, and to a marginally lesser degree, hunting. It is well researched and broadly written. There are seventeen figures throughout the book, drawn from the various narratives under examination, most of which illustrate the relevant discussions efficiently, effectively, and at times even affectively (e.g., figures depicting the vertical and horizontal sublime often encountered as big-game hunters (re-) discovered various landscapes). It is another in a small but growing crowd of texts that include history and hunting (collectively) in their purview. As has been argued before, such a widely popular and histori- cally resilient “sport” (i.e., hunting) is more deserving of attention from scholars than is currently reflected in the literature. For anyone eager to take up the study of hunting, 19th century Canadian/British history, and/or imperialism, Hunting for Empire is worth the read. The Metrosexual: Gender, Sexuality, and Sport By David Coad. Published in 2008 by the State University of New York Press (214 pp., $16.95 US). Reviewed by Andrew Novak, independent researcher. According to David Coad, traditional gender roles on the playing field are in flux. Metrosexuality has subverted the old “jock culture” stereotype that pervaded sports of the past. “Jock culture” used to signify a world of rugged and unrefined masculinity, with excesses in sports rape, sexual violence, homophobia, and other destructive behaviors. British cultural critic Mark Simpson coined the term “metro- sexual” in the mid-1990s to characterize men who seek to portray themselves as passive objects of desire, to be admired by their male peers, a term now applicable to many highly paid or highly sponsored athlete-consumers. Metrosexual male athletes no longer need to prove their masculinity through expressions of power. “Metrosexuality means that [sexual] passivity can be shared by men and women rather than be confused with femininity” (p. 197). Now soccer player David Beck- ham, swimmer Ian Thorpe, quarterback Joe Namath, and their peers have become ambassadors of high fashion, cover models for glossy magazines, and celebrity endorsers of cosmetic and style products. Athlete advertising of undergarments, accessories, swimwear, and cologne is commonplace.
  7. 7. Book Reviews 203 Coad’s timely and original book traces the origins of the metrosexual phe- nomenon from its antecedents in the European “dandy” phenomenon of stylish, clothes-conscious men in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the American “playboy” phenomenon of hedonistic male consumers in the early twentieth cen- tury. The delicate idleness of Oscar Wilde dandyism and the consumerism of Jay Gatsby playboyism fused with changes in shopping habits and advertising in the 1970s and 1980s. Using an impressive array of print media sources, Coad traces the history of the advertising revolution using men to target men. In a series of essays, he describes the reinvention of the New York-based style magazine GQ and the pioneering efforts of Ralph Lauren in athlete advertising and sport-influenced fashion. Since that time, well-paid athletes have formed close, often personal con- nections to some of the largest and highest-end fashion designers on both sides of the Atlantic, beginning with Giorgio Armani in the late 1980s. The second half of Coad’s book includes a series of four essays on specific aspects of the metrosexual revolution, each of which serves to refine his theory. The first essay is on the development of underwear advertising and athlete modeling. Undergarments have become a fashion accessory in themselves, accompanied by more revealing changes in style, shape, and color. He later describes the rise among African-American athletes and the consequent mainstreaming of a “pimped out” look involving expensive and often visually shocking garments and accessories. Athletic fashion photography, the subject of a third essay, has made nude athletic bodies mainstream in such outlets as sports calendars, Abercrombie & Fitch cata- logs, and soccer albums, a phenomenon Coad calls “spornography” (p. 144). Each of these essays strengthens his theory that heterosexual men are becoming sex icons to be admired by other men. Much of Coad’s hypothesis traces developments in the history of sexuality. One weakness of the book may be an underemphasis on developments in the his- tory of sport that made such a revolution possible. Sport has, for a century, become much more integrated and universal, challenging old masculine-dominated myths of athletics. Coad hints at this trend toward non-gendered sport by discussing the rise of openly gay athletes. Metrosexuals are not replicating the nudity of the ancient Greeks, engaged in hierarchical, male-only ritual sport; they are subverting it. The most important development is one Coad does not rigorously address—the change in economic roles as both professional and amateur sports are sources of huge amounts of money today. The metrosexual revolution, especially popular among wealthy or highly sponsored athletes, is the product of this major economic shift. Athletes want to display their wealth as much as they display their fashion. Coad’s greater theory, however, is strong, as recent developments highlight. Intense media coverage surrounded American swimmer Michael Phelps’s eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, intensely exposing his body. Phelps has not displayed the formerly typical heterosexual insecurity that comes with a sexual- ization of one’s body. In addition, the gold medal won by openly gay Australian platform diver Matthew Mitcham gave the excessively talkative and politically active Mitcham a fan base far beyond the gay community. In an interview with The Advocate, Mitcham called platform diving “such an easy sport to be out in” because of its artistry and grace; “much easier than football where you have to be rugged and strong and masculine” (Aug. 26, 2008). In September 2008 Mitcham secured a sponsorship by the men’s swimwear and underwear company aussieBum,
  8. 8. 204 Book Reviews becoming an openly gay “sex object” marketed to straight men. Both in their early 20s, Phelps and Mitcham represent a new generation of sportsmen, not bound by traditional gender roles—or even, perhaps, traditional metrosexual roles. Sport as a Form of Human Fulfillment: An Organic Phi- losophy of Sports History, vols. I & II By Robert G. Osterhoudt. Published in 2006 by Trafford Publishing. (821 pp.) Reviewed by Ken Kirkwood, University of Western Ontario. These tomes represent the ultimate accomplishment for Dr. Osterhoudt’s long and notable academic career. The product of 30 years of accumulation, contemplation and development, this work represents a formidably expansive treatment of this history of humanity and sport. Beginning with the “big bang” origins of the universe and proceeding through to the year 2000, Osterhoudt’s ambition is to demonstrate for the reader the essential relationship between human culture and sport. The author is mindful to operation- alize his ideal typology of sport as one that rejects the militarized, nationalistic and commercialized aspects of the modern spectacle, and is more beholding to an “authentic” relationship with humanity and the culture that grows out of that relationship. To read this book is to experience detailed research and reporting. The author adopted a methodology reminiscent of a “process philosophy” of sport history, and the goal of such a method is to include all relevant aspects of the process, because every process is complex.1 One can understand it as intellectual needlepoint, every drop stitch is as important as the other, because only by full inclusion, can all the stitches provide the desired ends. If one judges texts by the breadth of its scope, then one cannot fault this book, as it is exhaustive. Osterhoudt proceeds through parallel, but related, histories of ideas, geo-polit- ical developments and other topics of social history while also giving us a detailed history of sporting development. As mentioned earlier, the book begins 18 billion years before publication, which is a puzzling inclusion when one is speaking of sport and the relationship with human existence. Having read both volumes closely, it is unclear to me how the brief treatment of Earth’s pre-human prehistory is at all relevant. The origins, existence and nature of protozoa, as examined in the first volume (p.6), are to my mind, entirely tangential to the products of human culture. The volumes take the reader on an excruciating tour of minutiae, that should be admired for the resolute discipline required for such research and writing, but questioned for value and relevance. The sections of intellectual history puts one in mind of F. C. Copleston’s seminal nine volume work on the matter,2 while the sport history section is a compilation of sport history that is no better than any other—it is simply ‘more,’ than other offerings. While reading it, I was put in mind of someone ‘cutting and pasting’ together portions of very good, but existing historical treat- ments of the various historical epochs. There was nothing new to speak of in this text, just more of it—much, much more.
  9. 9. Book Reviews 205 This text is a formidable work. The breadth of the treatment, and the sheer mass of the publication took me back to reading Gibbon’s enormous The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.3 The primary difference in my view is that Gib- bon’s inclusions were all relevant, but Osterhoudt seems to have succumbed to the inclusion of detail for the sake of detail. Notes 1. Nicholas Rescher, Process Philosophy: A Survey of Basic Issues (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2000). 2. F. C. Copleston, A History of Philosophy, vols.1-9 (Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1948). 3. E. Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1901).