Blood, Sweat, and Cheers looks at the contribution of sport to the making of the Canadian nation, focusing on the gradual transition from rural sporting practices to the emphasis on contemporary team sports that accompanied the industrial and urban transition. The book also analyzes sport's pre-eminent place in our contemporary consumer-oriented culture, and the sometimes ambivalent contribution of sport to a sense of Canadian identity.
Intended as an introduction to the way in which social historians approach the history of sport, rather than as an exhaustive narrative of our sporting heritage, Colin Howell introduces readers to a number of important issues, including amateurism and professionalism, race and ethnicity, regionalism and nationalism, the impact of British and American sporting traditions upon Canadian sporting life, and the contemporary meaning of sport in a globalizing capitalist economy. He also investigates discourses about respectability and the display of the body, gender construction and sexual identities, the changing nature of the sporting marketplace over time, as well as the involvement of spectators, the media, and the state in the production of our national sporting life.
While theoretical in approach, Blood, Sweat and Cheers also looks at the accomplishments of individual athletes, including Ned Hanlan, Maurice Richard, Barbara Ann Scott, Wayne Gretzky, and Donovan Bailey, as well as major sports teams, and covers a wide array of activities from hunting, rodeo, and native sporting traditions to those associated with the Olympic Games.