The H.J. Lutcher Stark Center for Physical Culture and Sports is pleased and even a bit proud to have played a role in attracting the annual conference of the North American Society for Sport History to the University of Texas at Austin. Based on the latest projections, approximately 210 sport and physical culture historians will spend three full days in Austin giving papers, hearing papers, attending meetings, and enjoying the fellowship of like-minded folk from North America as well as the wider world beyond. What’s more, quite a few of the people coming to the conference are either coming early or staying over a few days the following week in order to use the resources of the Stark Center for research.
It’s worth noting that the number of sessions this year is significantly greater than at any previous NASSH conference–fifty-five paper sessions over the three day weekend. To view the program, go to: http://www.nassh.org/. We could, of course, mention that since this particular meeting is being held in Texas it’s somehow appropriate for it to be larger than any previous conference, but such a comment would be beneath us. In all honesty, we do realize that one of the main reasons we got the bid to host NASSH in 2011 is that Austin has become something of a destination city because of what many people—particularly Austinites–think is the combination of its natural beauty, robust downtown community, fitness orientation, live music, barbecue and other victuals, museums, laid-back lifestyle, and—lest we forget—bats.
We certainly hope that besides the hundred-plus papers, the special lectures, and the presentations, NASSH members are able to sample some of what Austin has to offer. We also hope that they will all take time on Saturday evening to come to a cocktail/snack party at the Stark Center, where they’ll have an opportunity to tour the Center and have a look at a just-installed photography exhibition called Muscle & Grace: Images of Physical Culture and Sport. The exhibition, which fills the 10,000 square foot Joe and Betty Weider Museum gallery space, showcases 660 images and primarily features photographs from the Stark Center Collection. It also includes displays focusing on the family photos of Tom Landry; a retrospective of the work of photographer Stephen Green-Armytage, who worked for Sports Illustrated for over 25 years; and a large display of photos from the personal collections of Texas golf legends Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, and Harvey Penick.
We’re especially pleased to have a chance on Saturday night to show our colleagues from around the world what we consider to be the raison d’etre of the Stark Center—our collection of books, magazines, photographs, posters, correspondence, films, videotapes, art, and other artifacts. All of this material relates in one way or another to the broad and often-overlapping fields of physical culture and sports and is the culmination of a lifetime of collecting aimed at creating a public research facility where NASSH members and others can find things which, taken together, are available nowhere else in the world.
–Terry and Jan Todd