This Sporting Life

Robert Colls


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Oxford University Press
27 August 2020
ISBN: 9780198208334
416 pages

From the publisher

Why did killing a fox mean liberty? What did parish revels have to do with the Peterloo Massacre? What did animal cruelty have to do with the English constitution? What did the Factory Acts mean for modern football? In This Sporting Life, Robert Colls explains sport as one of England's great civil cultures. The lived experiences of people from all walks of life are reclaimed to tell England's history through its great sporting cultures, from the horseback pursuits of the wealthy and politically connected, to the street games in working-class neighbourhoods which needed nothing but a ball. It observes people at play, describes how they felt and thought, carries the reader along to a match or a hunt or a fight, draws out the sounds and smells of humans and animals, showing that sport has been as important in defining British culture as gender, politics, education, class, and religion.