The Spirit of the Game: How Sport Made the Modern World

Mihir Bose

The Spirit of the Game: How Sport Made the Modern World

The spirit of the game was first nurtured on the playing fields of the English public school, and in the pages of Tom Brown's Schooldays — this Corinthian spirit was then exported around the world. The competitive spirit, the importance of fairness, the nobility of the gifted amateur seemed to sum up everything that was good about Britishness and the games they played. Today, sport is dominated by corruption, money, celebrity and players who are willing to dive in the box if it wins them a penalty. Yet, we still believe and talk about the game as if it had a higher moral purpose. Since the age of Thomas Arnold, Sport has been used to glorify dictatorships and was at the heart of cold war diplomacy. Prime Ministers, princes and presidents will do whatever they can to ensure that their country holds a major sporting tournament. Nelson Mandela saw the victory of the Rugby World Cup as essential to his hopes for the Rainbow Nation. Mihir Bose has lived his life around sport and in this book he tells the story of how Sport has lost its original spirit and how it has emerged in the 20th century to become the most powerful political tool in the world. 3.4 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
The Spirit of the Game: How Sport Made the Modern World

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Sports, Hobbies & Games
Format Hardback
Pages 320
RRP £18.99
Date of Publication January 2012
ISBN 978-1849015042
Publisher Constable
 

The spirit of the game was first nurtured on the playing fields of the English public school, and in the pages of Tom Brown's Schooldays — this Corinthian spirit was then exported around the world. The competitive spirit, the importance of fairness, the nobility of the gifted amateur seemed to sum up everything that was good about Britishness and the games they played. Today, sport is dominated by corruption, money, celebrity and players who are willing to dive in the box if it wins them a penalty. Yet, we still believe and talk about the game as if it had a higher moral purpose. Since the age of Thomas Arnold, Sport has been used to glorify dictatorships and was at the heart of cold war diplomacy. Prime Ministers, princes and presidents will do whatever they can to ensure that their country holds a major sporting tournament. Nelson Mandela saw the victory of the Rugby World Cup as essential to his hopes for the Rainbow Nation. Mihir Bose has lived his life around sport and in this book he tells the story of how Sport has lost its original spirit and how it has emerged in the 20th century to become the most powerful political tool in the world.

Reviews

The Evening Standard

Michael Prodger

Impressive … As a good investigator he lays out how the likes of Bernie Ecclestone in Formula 1 and Adi Dassler, the founder of Adidas, manipulated opportunities to wield power and made themselves fortunes … At times his book reads like corporate history and there is a welter of acronyms to be negotiated as FIFA passes to UEFA which boots a long ball to the IOC which exchanges a one-two with the ICC before squaring the ball for the IPL to slot home. But the global sports market is worth some $620 billion annually; no wonder, says Bose, that it is such a complicated and often unsavoury business.

02/02/2012

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The Daily Telegraph

Peter Oborne

The book is full of fascinating detail, told with exuberance and learning ... I have played for Mihir Bose’s cricket team, sometimes in far-flung places, and know him well enough to reveal that the depth of his sporting passion is matched only by the near complete lack of sporting talent. He has written many books on sport, and this book is a distillation of four decades as an author and reporter. It is a superbly entertaining read.

08/02/2012

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The Independent on Sunday

Simon Redfern

Comprehensive, perceptive, well-informed — and often depressing. He leads us through totalitarianism, television and the influence of gambling with a sure hand. Yet his love of past practices causes him to make some curious statements, such as: "The removal of [cricket's] distinction between gentlemen and players is even today resented by many in England." Many? I don't think so. And he heartily approves of the American way of sport, though that country has led the world in treating sport as packaged-for-TV big business.

05/02/2012

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The Observer

David Goldblatt

Mostly, Bose is an entertaining guide. His inclusion in the narrative of the rising powers of Asia is welcome and his account of modern Indian cricket is closely observed and genuinely original. But for all that, this is a disappointingly old-school version of the tale. British sports and Victorian sports cultures have never been the only games in town ... Perhaps even more importantly, sport has never been just for boys, though so many have tried to keep it that way.

12/02/2012

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The Spectator

Ed Smith

The book’s subtitle is ‘How Sport Made the Modern World’, as though sport has not merely reflected history, but actively shaped it. It is an interesting idea, demanding a Niall Ferguson-style combination of tightly argued polemic and grand, over-arching narrative. The Spirit of the Game is not that book. It is wonderfully rich in historical detail and anecdote — quotations make up a good portion of it — but the argument is left somewhat to emerge of its own accord. Bose’s achievement is different. He has crunched almost the whole history of organised sport into 500 densely packed pages. I cannot think of a more exhaustive book on modern sport.

04/02/2012

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The Independent

Chris Maume

There's lots of nice detail, such as the reaction to listening to football on the radio of Winifred Holtby, feminist intellectual and novelist: "I was excited. I had not, I have not to this day, the remotest notion of what they were all doing. But I know I was excited." If anything there's too much detail, but the message is clear: the Corinthian ideal is pretty much dead. On the jacket, Bose is described as India's CLR James. That's pushing it. But he has written a readable account of sport's tortuous journey from simple hobby to global behemoth.

20/01/2012

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