“Sport’s Answer to the Three-Ring Circus”: Indoor Track and American Identity in the 1950s

By Cat Ariail “Indoor track, sport’s answer to the three-ring circus, springs full-grown from the winter much as Athena sprang fully-armed from the head of Zeus,” asserted Sports Illustrated’s Tex Maule in 1958.[1] In a subsequent article, Maule suggested the sport “takes on a carnival air when the lineal descendants of the fleet cave man…

The “Kaszubki Complaint”

By Cat Ariail After returning from the 1948 Olympic Games in London, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) sought feedback from athletes, presumably to use such information to improve logistics for future international competitions.  Frances Kaszubski, a shot putter and discus thrower, took full advantage of this opportunity. She composed a ten-page letter, detailing the indignities…

Roundtable Reflections on the Rio Olympics, Part 2

This week we’re offering our thoughts and reflections on the recently completed Rio Olympics. Today is part two of our roundtable. It features a Q&A with four of our contributors — Cat Ariail, Josh Howard, Andrew McGregor, and Lindsay Parks Pieper — about their views on the Rio Olympics and its legacy as both scholars and sports fans. Feel…

“The Fulfillment of a promise of that has remained unrealized”: From Wyomia Tyus to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce

By Cat Ariail At the upcoming summer Olympics in Rio, Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will attempt to win her third consecutive gold medal in the 100 meters. Her countryman Usain Bolt also will have the opportunity to accomplish the feat in both the 100 and 200 meters.  If they three-peat in the 100, Fraser-Pryce and Bolt…

Carlota Gooden’s Athletic Citizenship

By Cat Ariail At the 1959 Pan-American Games in Chicago, Illinois, Carlota Gooden, a twenty-two year-old Panamanian sprinter descended from Barbadian canal workers, won two silver medals and a bronze. Her performances in the 100-meter sprint, 4×100-meter relay, and 60-meter dash entered her name in the official records of international track, a permanent inscription that…