Why sports?

It’s a question many sport historians deal with on a fairly regular basis—often asked by other researchers, friends, and family. Many people assume that sports are simply about scores and stats: occasionally, they’re about something else. It doesn’t take long, however, to understand the outsized role of athletics in modern-day societies.

In Sports & the Making of the Americas, we will explore the impact of sports on the social, economic, and political history of the Americas. In particular, HIS 3310 deals with the construction of identities across the hemisphere—from Canada to Chile.

Upper-class citizens first embraced organized athletics in the late-nineteenth century as “civilizing” tools for “proper gentlemen.” Soon, though, activities like fútbol (soccer), boxing, and béisbol (baseball) became popular with the masses. Their popularity allowed sports to play a key role in how people imagine themselves, articulate their values, and make sense of their daily lives. This semester, we will discover how sports shaped gender, class, and national identities in the Americas. We will also analyze the connections between politics and sportsmen, and discuss how athletics shaped other forms of pop culture.


Luis Suárez (Uruguay), Neymar (Brazil), and Lionel Messi (Argentina), during their heyday at Barcelona FC (Spain), wearing jerseys sponsored by Nike (USA) and Qatar Airways.

Sports & the Making of the Americas

  • Instructor: Dr. Rwany Sibaja, Asst. Professor of History
  • Room: Anne Belk 236
  • Time: Tuesdays / Thursdays 12:30pm-1:45pm

Primary objective

To trace how multiple forms of identity developed and changed over time across the Americas through a historical study of sports

Specific objectives for this course

  1. To be able to…show how sports shaped gender, class, race, ethnicity, and other forms of identity across the Americas via an analysis of primary and secondary sources
  2. To be able to… think as historians in the analysis of primary and secondary sources, charting changes over time, and placing the development of organized sports within the larger historical context
  3. To be able to…identify ways in which sports affected other forms of mass culture (cinema, music), politics, and social movements, and vice versa
  4. To be able to…use sports to generate new perspectives on the complexity and diversity of identities the Americas, while also highlighting similarities across the hemisphere

Pedagogical goals & Practices

This course aligns with the ASU Dept. of History’s goals and practices for 3000-level courses:

  • Identification, analysis, and use of primary and secondary sources
  • Written prospectus
  • Outline
  • Rough draft (and revisions)
  • Historical Narrative
  • Oral history
  • Chicago Manual style documentation
  • Historiographical essays
  • Annotated bibliography
  • Oral presentations
  • Reading and writing book reviews
  • Identification & comparison of multiple interpretations
  • Introduction to theory
  • Use of interdisciplinary methods