Abstract

Overexposed famous histories of Black people in the West often lead to mainstream oversimplification, relegate racial tensions to the past or elsewhere, and label them a closed chapter. These histories produce curated, uncontextualized grand narratives. The Canadian sport context is particularly fertile ground to explore the silencing of Blackness in national public histories. For instance, Jackie Robinson's 1946 debut with the Montreal Royals was more than the sanitized Canada-the-good moment reflected in Heritage Minutes. While shortened histories can be useful portals into complex sociohistorical narratives for the public, left to themselves, they deny complexity, often for political purposes. I argue that history of sport scholars need to be deliberate in publicly underscoring the “seriousness” of sport, not by themselves, but as a collective. This means more involvement in public sport history to provide an often-missing critical perspective. There are a variety of methods at historians’ disposal to begin working in tandem with each other and with other nonacademic stakeholders invested in public sport history. Using a Black Canadian lens, this essay adds a currently absent perspective to the discussion of the state of public sport history to illustrate directions for an enhanced presence of the work of historians of sport outside academia. I discuss best practices using examples of some historians’ efforts to provide critical, intersectional, and visible counternarratives alongside various other sport stakeholders, from journalists to halls of fame, and through multiple formats.

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