Experienced sports journalist and author, Martin Krauß, has written an accessible history of modern sport. ‘It’s Taking Part that Counts’ analyses the social and political significance of sport, including the long tradition of using sport to include or exclude particular groups of people.
The book’s seven chapters consider the impact of a range of different factors on sporting participation, including: class and politics; race and ethnicity; sex; disability; religion; gender; and nationality. These thematic chapters make it easy for readers to dip in and out as they please, and do not stop Krauß from addressing intersectionality, for instance in the impact of gender, race, and class in the story of the Williams sisters. Krauß’s thematic rather than chronological treatment of the subject is also a recognition that trends in modern sport are notnecessarily linear. In this regard, the author highlights that the very first modern sports teams in the USA were mixed teams, with the segregation and exclusion of Black athletes only coming later. Moreover, he highlights how attitudes that we might consider outdated are still very much present in sport and society today, such as athletes of colour being held to different standards than their white peers.
‘It’s Taking Part that Counts’ is a balanced and self-aware work, which is well-written and researched. Krauß acknowledges the limitations of relying solely on written history as a source of information about the history of sport, particularly in the context ofthe systematic eradication of pre-colonial history in European-controlled colonies, which led to modern sport being incorrectly perceived as a European export. His account includes profiles of groundbreaking sporting figures, such as Alfonsina Strada, thefirst woman to take part in the Giro d’Italia, and Battling Siki, the first African-born boxing world champion.
‘It’s Taking Part that Counts’ stands out among recent publications on this enduringly popular subject for the scope of its approach, and willtherefore appeal to a correspondingly broad readership. Readers of titles such as Good for a Girlby Lauren Fleshman and Up to Speedby Christine Yu, that focus on women in sport, as well as More Than a Gameby David Horspool, which considers sport in a specifically British context, will find much to enjoy in Krauß’s book. In contrast to Rebound by Perry King, a wider look at the social impact of sport, that focuses largely on grassroots sport, Krauß addresses both community and professional-level sport. ‘It’s Taking Part that Counts’ challenges and enriches our perception of sporting history.