sla historical note by Lyle Olsen

Lyle Olsen (1930-2000), educator, scholar, coach, and athlete, was the initiator of the Sport Literature Association. In the historical note below, Lyle talks about the rationale behind the founding of the organization and its journal.


Early in the 1970s, I was encouraged to teach in one of the sub-disciplines of physical education: the sociocultural area of sport studies. I soon became aware that the literature of sport was my primary interest but I also discovered that the teaching of the discipline could be both rewarding and frustrating -- rewarding because of the wealth and depth of the material and frustrating because I kept turning up more material, usually by chance, of which I was previously unaware. I concluded that gems about sport literature were scattered and buried in many diverse publications.

After listening to my voicing the problems, colleagues advised me to attend the next meeting of the North American Society of Sport History (NASSH). From random contact with others at this conference, I discovered a host of English professors who were presenting sport literature papers at different meetings or working on books in the field. However, it soon became obvious that I was searching for something which did not exist -- an established clearinghouse, a forum for the exchange of information and research about sport literature. This search eventually led to the establishment of a regularly published, wide ranging journal featuring fiction, poetry, criticism and reviews focused on sport literature -- one that would encourage, stimulate and foster an alliance between sport and the humanities.

Before the premier issue of Arete: The Journal of Sport Literature was published in the fall of 1983, the Sport Literature Association membership, by then a not-for-profit organization, numbered over 500, including individuals and institutions. Beginning with the Spring 1988 issue, the journal title was changed to Aethlon: The Journal of Sport Literature.

-- Lyle Olsen

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