Preserving sports legacies : a case study on the 1968 U.S. Olympic Team Oral History Project

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Date

2012-05

Authors

Harguess, Desirée Marie

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Abstract

The central question of this thesis is: How (and why) do we preserve sports legacies? Based on my research and experiences as the project coordinator for the 1968 U.S. Olympic Team Oral History Project at the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports, this thesis examines the social meanings of sports legacies and the rationale behind their preservation. I propose that sports legacies are located at the intersection of culture, memory and history; at the same time, on an individual level, sports legacies are also a form of symbolic immortality. This thesis conceptualizes sports legacies as contested terrain in which individuals and communities engage in continual negotiations on meaning and struggles over representation. Consequently, I propose that public history and oral history are the medium and methodology best suited to sports legacy preservation. Finally, I outline the process by which the H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports is preserving the legacy of the 1968 U.S. Olympic Team. This thesis explains how and why we are preserving the legacy of this particular sports team and serves as a blueprint that others may use for preserving sports legacies.

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