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PHSE204 History of Sport

An introduction to the historical study of sport via the intellectual frameworks of cultural and social history.

Organised, competitive sport is a barometer of the human condition and social relationships over the last century and a half. This paper examines the history of sport and its development during this period, focusing on the Olympic games. Founded in 1896, the modern Olympic games highlight international political relationships, as well as relationships of class, race and gender.
Examples discussed in this paper include the proposed boycott of the 1936 games in Berlin and South Africa's expulsion from the games for 30 years; the early preservation of the games for amateur athletes; the use of the games for protests against racism in the 1960s; and the ongoing struggle by women to achieve equal access to the games. Most importantly, these examples reveal change, and a lack of change, in sporting - and ultimately human - social relationships.

Paper title History of Sport
Paper code PHSE204
Subject Physical Education
EFTS 0.1400
Points 18 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $839.86
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,368.00

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36 points
This paper is accessible to students at any level who are interested in social, cultural and political history and who are interested in exploring these subjects through the Olympic movement.
Teaching staff
Course Co-ordinator and Lecturer: Professor Doug Booth
Paper Structure
The paper covers six topics:
  • History as a discipline of contested narratives
  • Nationalism and the Olympic movement
  • Social class and amateurism in the olympic movement
  • Racism in the Olympic movement
  • Gender and sexism in the olympic movement
  • The commercial politics of the Olympic movement
Text books are not required for this paper.
The course outline provides a list of readings (book chapters and journal articles) for each topic and each lecture. Readings are available online and/or through the course reserve section in the library.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Communication, Critical thinking, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
On completing this paper students will have:
  • A knowledge of history as an academic discipline
  • The opportunity to improve their writing and their presentation of ideas and arguments
  • A critical perspective on history as an academic discipline
  • A critical perspective on the politics of sport
  • A critical perspective on the Olympic movement as a social, political and economic force
  • An appreciation of working in small groups to discuss ideas and present collective answers to issues and problems

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Tuesday 15:00-15:50 28-34, 36-41
Thursday 14:00-15:50 28-34, 36-41