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Sweeping history of how commercialism and greed swallowed the sporting ideal

SPORTS BOOK OF THE WEEK


The Spirit of the Game: How Sport Made the Modern World by Mihir Bose

Published by: Constable

What’s it about?


In seeking to answer the question of how sport did help shape the modern world, the author has produced a sweeping history of sport in the modern world from its idealistic beginnings to the massively commercial present.

It is particularly relevant in an Olympic year, particularly in the year of an Olympics in Britain, since Bose begins his exploration of the sporting spirit with the advance of the modern Olympic movement as a phenomenon rooted in what its acknowledged founder, Pierre de Coubertin, cherished as an English virtue.

De Coubertin, a French nobleman, drew his inspiration from an English novel, Tom Brown’s Schooldays, a book that paid homage to Rugby School and its headmaster, Thomas Arnold, whose beliefs in manliness and gentlemanly conduct and the health benefits of an outdoor life were set in a sporting context.

Coubertin used to make an annual pilgrimage to Rugby School and would stand at the altar of the school chapel, beneath which Arnold was buried, and imagine him as the man who invented the concept of sporting chivalry around which he would build his Olympic ideal.

Bose goes on to describe how the ideal was hijacked first by nationalism, in particular by the Nazi and communist movements in the 1920s and 30s, and then by big business, who saw the opportunities offered by sport’s post-War sporting boom and created the world that we know today, dominated by money, corporate and individual greed,  corruption and the culture of celebrity.

The picture it paints is somewhat bleak but it is a deep and fascinating study peppered with perceptive insights, written in a bright and engaging style.

Who is the author?


Mihir Bose, born in India and raised in Bombay, moved to England in 1969 at the age of 22 to study engineering at Loughborough University, then trained to be an accountant.  But he found opportunities to pursue his interest in writing and swapped accountancy for journalism in 1978, concentrating on business and sport.  He has since enjoyed a distinguished career with the Sunday Times, the Daily Telegraph, the BBC and, more latterly, the Evening Standard in London.  He is the author of 26 books, which are mostly about sport but also include a history of Bollywood.   His History of Indian Cricket won the Cricket Society Literary Award in 1990 and his study of sports and apartheid, Sporting Colours, was runner-up in the 1994 William Hill Sports Book of the Year award.

Buy The Spirit of the Game: How Sport Made the Modern World, direct from amazon.co.uk

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