First published in 2016 as part of the University of Arkansas Press’s Sport, Culture, and Society Series, the award-winning Separate Games, edited by David K. Wiggins and Ryan A. Swanson, is now available in paperback.
Winner of the 2017 book award from the North American Society for Sport History, Separate Games “is a welcome addition to the literature on American race relations and sport,” according to Jorge Iber in the Journal of Sport History.
The hardening of racial lines during the first half of the twentieth century eliminated almost all African Americans from white organized sports, forcing black athletes to form their own teams, organizations, and events. This separate sporting culture, explored in the twelve essays included in this collection, comprised much more than athletic competition; these “separate games” provided examples of black enterprise and black self-help and showed the importance of agency and the quest for racial uplift in a country fraught with racialist thinking and discrimination.
The significance of this sporting culture is vividly showcased in the stories of the Cuban Giants baseball team, basketball’s New York Renaissance Five, the Tennessee State Tigerbelles track-and-field team, black college football’s Turkey Bowl Classic, car racing’s Gold and Glory Sweepstakes, Negro League Baseball’s East-West All-Star game, and many more. These teams, organizations, and events made up a vibrant national sporting complex that remained in existence until the integration of sports beginning in the late 1940s. Separate Games explores the fascinating ways sports helped bind the black community and illuminate race pride, business acumen, and organizational abilities.
The introduction, and Carroll Van West’s essay “The Tennessee State Tigerbelles: Cold Warriors of the Track” are available, free, to read online.