The good news: Amherst professor Allen Guttman's The Erotic in Sports
takes a look at a subject that lurks behind the sports industry but is seldom talked about--the eroticism inherent in athletics, both for spectators and among the participants. The bad news: Guttman is first and foremost an academic, and his approach to the topic is largely clinical and dispassionate, depriving the work of the passion that the subject cries out for. Still, he does manage to work himself into a bit of a lather in writing about the incomparable Soviet gymnast Ludmilla Tourischeva: "a bewitched anthropologist and an enthralled historian both described [Tourischeva] as a woman endowed with a disturbing sexual attractiveness . . . For me, as well, she remains an unsually vivid personification of Eros and sports."
From Library Journal
Do spectators look at athletes, both men and women, and think of them erotically? Our cultural mores say no, but Guttmann (The Olympics, LJ 5/1/92) answers with a resounding yes. In eight tightly written, well-reasoned chapters, he examines 3000 years of Western history to support his argument that there has always been an erotic aspect to sports. Many will disagree, but Guttmann defends what he views as the erotic attraction of sports and argues that spectators should be as candid about this attraction as were the spectators of ancient Greece and Rome. He shows how changing culture sublimated the overt eroticism of athletes until the modern age, when a change in attitude brought the "sexual pleasure" of sports again to the attention of viewers. Guttmann's arguments are well supported by the popular literature and culture of the 20th century. This is not, however, a book for the casual sports fan, but an excellent cultural history of an overlooked aspect of sports. Recommended for academic and large public libraries.?William O. Scheeren, Hempfield Area H.S. Lib., Greensburg, Pa.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.