Last week I attended the three day 22nd Congress of The European Society of Sports Historians (CESH) at Bordeaux, running from 29th to 31st October, and chaired its annual general meeting. CESH attracts leading sports historians from across Europe and beyond. This year it was held in association with the French society Carrefour d’Histoire du Sport.
It drew over 160 participants from eighteen different countries, with presentations allowed in English, French or German, as well as groups of undergraduate students from France and Spain.
The theme of the Congress was Sports History and Patrimonial Dynamics.
It strikes me that this emphasis sports’ heritage is of increasing importance right across Europe, often contributing powerfully to individual and community identities. In Britain sporting heritage has become much more relevant to the formal heritage sector in recent years. It might be in the nature of virtual museums or actual buildings like the National Football Museum at Manchester or Newmarket’s Palace House: The National Heritage Centre for Horse-racing & Sporting Art. It might be in the form of National Sporting Heritage Day or local community activities. Amongst the many fascinating presentations was one by Justine Reilly, the Director of Sporting Heritage, who showed how it was involved in a wide range of activities from a recent three year Arts Council England funding programme to the development of a national data base of sporting collections’.
While I was there I had the pleasure of awarding a Fellowship of the Society to another British academic, Professor David Day of Manchester Metropolitan University, for his distinguished contributions to the history of sport.