Playing to Win: Sports and the American Military, 1898-1945

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SUNY Press, 1997 - History - 216 pages
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This book explains how and why the American armed forces embraced sports as a critical part of training and as entertainment for the men--and, eventually, women--in uniform. The author traces the development of military sports from the Spanish-American War through the end of World War II and shows how they became an integral part of military culture. Wakefield uses the military's sports program to explore issues of power, masculinity, and race as they were expressed and reinforced through athletic competitions and demonstrates how they strengthened hierarchical relationships. She also shows how the armed forces attempted to use sports to further national interests on the diplomatic front and to reduce racial and sexual tension.

In addition, Wakefield argues for the interpenetration of the worlds of sports and war, showing how sports metaphors were used to masculinize the military enterprise and maintain morale. Wartime propelled interest in sports, and sports helped to maintain patriotism and gender identity among the troops. The book makes the case that the size and scope of the military's efforts to draw all soldiers and sailors into sports reflect the extent to which competitive athletics in the twentieth century have come to represent a means for advancing not only war but peace.

 

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Contents

Playing in the PostWar World and Planning for the Future
35
Building Strong Men and New Facilities for Another War
59
Special Service
79
Strong Men Strong Bodies Off to War 19411945
95
Conclusion
133
Bibliography
187
Index
209
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About the author (1997)

Wanda Ellen Wakefield is Assistant Professor of History at Middle Tennessee State University and is a judge with the International Luge Federation (FIL).