Legendary Matchups That Made Sports History
Edited by David K. Wiggins and R. Pierre Rodgers

Unforgettable fans, teams, and athletes

"Rivalries kick sports up a satisfying notch, as almost all fans have a big game or big match they look forward to on a regular basis. These 16 essays by academics in recreation-related fields-no beat sportswriters here-are all naturally on the scholarly side, yet they are accessible in their examination of famous rivalries and what stoked them (parity in skills, polarities in team or athlete personalities that enable fans to bestow a meaning greater than sports on their contests, and, yes, media hype, to name a few factors). Some will quibble with the choices: why not Dempsey-Tunney, Army-Navy, 1950s-era Yankees-Dodgers? Does anyone on this side of the Atlantic truly hang on the outcome of the Davis and Ryder Cups? But no one can dispute the importance of Ali-Frazier, Bird-Johnson, Navratilova-Evert, Ohio State-Michigan, Yankees-Red Sox, and most other picks.VERDICT Reader interest may flag when the editors, both professors at the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism at George Mason University, move out of the mano a mano realm and into team rivalries, but this book will be appreciated by a wide audience. Recommended for many sports buffs."
Library Journal (Jim Burns, Jacksonville P.L., FL)

“Rivalries are the lifeblood of sport. They’re at the heart of what competition is all about. Rivals offers a detailed look at sixteen historic rivalries that shaped the world of sports and still reverberate today.”
Thomas Hauser, author of Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times

“Better than any book I know, this dazzling collection dramatizes the rich range of meanings embodied by modern American sport. The focus on great rivalries, and the contrasts in social and cultural values they come to represent, allow the authors to illuminate many of the key factors that have shaped Americans’ views of sport—and of themselves—over a century of tumultuous change.”
Pamela Grundy, author of Shattering the Glass: The Remarkable History of Women’s Basketball

“Whether intensely local (Massillon vs. Canton High) or global (USA vs. USSR in track), rivalries distill sport to its essence: one on one, Us against Them, Good Guys vs. Bad Guys, however fans choose to define them. These wide-ranging essays are never dull, always illuminating, in bringing sixteen great sporting rivalries to life.”
Michael Oriard, author of Bowled Over: Big-Time College Football from the Sixties to the BCs Era

“Rivalries provide a public purpose that intensifies the meaning of a contest and give it an emotional quality that produces a burning urgency for participant and spectator alike. This well-chosen and well-written volume takes us through some of the best known rivalries on the local, national, and international stage. This is a great book.”
Richard C. Crepeau, author of Baseball: America’s Diamond Mind

The sixteen original essays in this collection cover influential and famous rivalries from a variety of sports, including track and field, golf, boxing, basketball, tennis, ice skating, baseball, football, soccer, and more. The essays are diverse, but together they illustrate what is common to any rivalry: equally matched opponents that often have decidedly different backgrounds, styles, and personalities. These differences may center on race and culture, political and societal ideologies, personality, geography, or religion—a mix intensified by fans and the media.
From highly publicized and emotionally charged individual competitions to bitterly fought team contests, Rivals illuminates what one-of-a-kind opponents and the passion they inspire tell us about ourselves and our society.

David K. Wiggins is professor and director of the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism at George Mason University and the editor of Out of the Shadows: A Biographical History of African American Athletes.

R. Pierre Rodgers is associate professor in the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism at George Mason University.


6 x 9, 491 pages, 21 photographs, index
$29.95 paper
ISBN 978-1-55728-921-6
$75.00 (s) unjacketed cloth
ISBN 978-1-55728-920-9