“Edited by David K. Wiggins—a widely read, senior scholar at George Mason University and former editor of the Journal of Sport History—and Ryan A. Swanson—an assistant professor of history at the University of New Mexico—the book successfully argues that ‘sport history will always be incomplete if academicians only study African American athletes in relation to their white counterparts and in the context of integration rather than segregation’ (p. xvi). It is a fine addition to the fields of sport history and African American history. … The eclectic group of contributors enriches Separate Games and makes it particularly intriguing and useful. … Separate Games should resonate with students, too, making it an excellent reader for courses exploring the history of sport or racial segregation.”
—The Journal of American History, March 2018
“Wiggins (George Mason Univ.) and Swanson (Univ. of New Mexico) have edited a 12-essay volume, written by recognized experts, about the segregated era in African American sports. The sections “Teams” and “Events” are probably too detailed, but the section on segregated black organizations is quite illuminating. The book argues that “separate games” were more than athletic competition, exemplifying black entrepreneurship and agency in a divided racist society. Black sportsmen and entrepreneurs tried to demonstrate to largely disinterested white sportsmen their athletes’ high skill levels. Separate sports programs, such as the Negro baseball leagues and historically black college and university conferences paralleled the organized white sports world, exemplifying “black self-help and organizational skills while at once engendering a sense of racial and community pride.” The book could be read in conjunction with the more biographical Before Jackie Robinson: The Transcendent Role of Black Sporting Pioneers (2017), edited by Gerald R. Gems. In addition to illustrations, the work under review includes endnotes.
—S. A. Riess, Northeastern Illinois University, Choice, July 2017
Summing Up: Recommended. All readers.
“This collection gives intriguing glimpses into the ways that African Americans worked, lived, played, and competed in a segregated America. Although some require a more careful reading than others, these essays prove that African American sport represented more than just contests on football fields, baseball diamonds, golf links. bowling alleys, and racetracks. These athletes showcased their skill and determination across the country in nontraditional civil rights arenas freighted with social, cultural, political, and economic meaning.”
—Alex Macaulay, The Journal of Southern History, February 2018