The Charisma of Sport and Race

Gerald Early, Eric Solomon, and Loïc Wacquant
March 1996
Misty photograph of two athletes, one white and one black.

This Occasional Paper explores the importance of both charisma and performance in the analysis of sport(s). For Gerald Early, sport offers grounds on which to examine race, masculinity, and even more broadly, the “symbols and metaphors of our society;” it is about merit, justice, desire, and will. Professor Loïc Wacquant argues that the “universe of sport is not the world of charisma but the world of persona;” athletes are performers who wear masks. Eric Solomon argues that the lore and “deep mythology” of baseball has played an important part in the lives of Jewish immigrants, inspiring not only players but writers and artists as well, for many of the above theorized reasons. What emerges most strongly from these papers is the argument posited by Gerald Early: that the study of sport is important and should be taken seriously.

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