The conference was open themed and welcomed research from a historical perspective related to sport, physical recreation, education and culture. Sports historians came from as far afield as Australia and the US to discuss the development of sport and the light it casts on wider social and political issues. It saw the Richard Cox Postgraduate Prize and the Prize for Best Paper on Sporting Inequalities awarded.
Professor Peter Catterall, one of the event organisers and Professor of History and Policy at the Westminster School of Humanities, commented: “It was very appropriate that Westminster should play host to this conference given the important role its forerunner, the Regent Street Polytechnic, played in sports history.”
This was reflected in the conference with papers highlighting the importance of the Polytechnic Harriers in the development of marathon running, as well as the inclusion of a talk by Elaine Penn from the University’s archives, about the rich resources on sports history held by the University.
Professor Guy Osborn, from the Centre for Law, Society and Popular Culture, presented important work on ticketing, in an area where sports history is also influencing contemporary policy. Professor Steve Greenfield, Co-Director of the Centre, also gave a paper at the conference titled 'Law. Justice and Fair Play'. Other keynote speakers included Professor Richard Haynes (University of Stirling), Dr Paul Ian Campbell (Coventry University), Dr Catherine Baker (University of Hull) and a group of representatives from the Sporting Heritage network.
The conference also saw the BSSH provide a research grant to the University to undertake work on sports history in Westminster’s archives. Professor Catterall added: “This is an opportunity for us to bring out more fully the importance of these distinctive archives while also using them to cast new light on, for instance, the development of women’s sport in Britain. These projects, looking at the development of the women’s Olympic movement and of minority sports respectively, will make important contributions to this development of the field of sports history.”
The British Society of Sports History aims to promote the study of the history of sport. In their effort, they work with the broader community organising and supporting local and regional activities, as well as organising an annual conference and publishing the journal Sport in History.