Throughout the world, the different institutionalized corporal practices (sport, physical education, dance, gymnastics, capoeira, and others) have called the attention of historians and social scientists, as objects that may contribute to the broadening of our vision on the social context in which they are inserted. Among others, Pierre Bourdieu and Norbert Elias directed a privileged look on sport, acknowledging its relevance in the cultural picture of modernity and contemporarity.
In Brazil, although there have been studies done since the 19th century, the history of sport still is a recent field of investigation. Despite the fact that the sportive phenomenon didn’t escape the observation of important Brazilian scholars in the 20th century, historical studies that have had sport as its main focus only started growing, in number and in quality, in the past decade, in addition to acquiring some national organization.
We see sport as one of the most important cultural manifestations of the 20th century. It is a typically modern phenomenon which is articulated with all other social, cultural, economic and political areas: architecture, modus vivendi, the new city dynamics, the growth of the means of communication presence etc. The making of the modernity ideal, its meanings and significances, is also expressed by the particularities the sport practice has acquired over the years.
In the same way, some analogous phenomena which occupy important areas in their specific context also require our careful observation: the Greek corporal practices, the Roman gladiators, the medieval tournaments, a great number of traditional ludic manifestations.
The corporal practices are always part of the cultural heritage of a people, fully articulated with a specific culture and are important tools in the formation of identities of class, gender, ethnicity, connected to the making of an idea of nation. In the Brazilian case, it is emphasized by the major presence of soccer in our cultural formation, in our history.
Due to their nature, the studies of sport must not be held in only one area of knowledge: a multidisciplinary research perspective is necessary; it is a privileged object for investigations which gather different specialists.
Those reflections guided the creation of "Sport" - Laboratory of the History of Sport and Leisure, associated to the Program of Graduate Studies in Comparative History / IFCS / UFRJ. "Sport" is a direct successor of other initiatives: the structuring of the Center of Memory/EEFD/UFRJ (which still exists under a different coordination) and the Virtual Space of Sport History, which ceases existing with this new program.
"Sports" aims at being a center of excellence, dedicated to the historical studies which have as object the institutionalized corporal practices, gathering professors and graduate and undergraduate students of different areas from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and other higher education institutions. It intends to integrate activities in research (in all of its dimensions), education (undergraduate and graduate) and extension (organizing many different events, courses and festivals).
Note - in the descriptions below, the word Sport summarizes and expresses the following concept: "institutionalized corporal practices (sport, physical education, dance, gymnastics, capoeira, and others) and leisure practices".
a) To contribute to the preservation of the memory of sport (documents, photographs, works of art, films, lyrics, literary works, testimonials and any type of source which may contribute to the development of historical studies), using electronic resources/the Internet to disseminate the collected material.
b) To develop historical studies with the intent of discussing the presence of the corporal practices and leisure in the diversified social contexts in which they are inserted.