Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Gerald Gems  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1947 in Chicago, Illinois

-- Gerald Gems on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Gerald Gems lives in Oswego and is a professor at North Central College in Naperville.

Biographical and Professional Information

Gerald R. Gems, is Professor of Health and Physical Education, North Central College, Naperville, Illinois, USA. He is past president of the North American Society for Sport History, member of the board of the International Society for the History of Physical Education and Sport, book review editor of the Journal of Sport History and author more than 100 articles.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Windy City Wars
ISBN: 0810833050

Scarecrow Press. 1997

Windy City Wars traces how the assimilation process of various ethnic groups in Chicago was facilitated by participation in sports from 1830-1940. Gems analyzes how factors of religion, social class, politics, and ethnicity played out in the context of the populations of Native Americans, African Americans, Anglos, Northern, Southern, and Eastern Europeans. Arguing that sport was (and is) one of the few areas of common interest in a city often torn by ethnic, racial, and political strife, Gems examines the process by which it came to serve as a new cultural bond among diverse groups. By 1940, the interest in sport and its American forms pervaded society, but held particular meaning for Chicago's population because of the special history and traditions of sport in the city. Windy City Wars is a fascinating case study of the development of a sports culture, its relationship to other forms of culture, and, ultimately, its important influence on the functioning of society.

For Pride, Profit, and Patriarchy : Football and the Incorporation of American Cultural Values
ISBN: 0810836858

Scarecrow Press. 2000

Sports history has emerged as a popular study over the past quarter century, and scholars have fueled this interest by providing a wealth of information on baseball and its role in American culture. Despite this increasing focus on the connection between sports and societal values, football, the sport that emerged in the late nineteenth century and merged the values of winning and commercialization with the culture of higher education, has been left relatively unexplored. This gap in sports history has left many questions unanswered, including football's link to American cultural values.

Gerald R. Gems has filled this gap in sports history with his latest title, For Pride, Profit, and Patriarchy: Football and the Incorporation of American Cultural Values. This intriguing resource covers a host of issues including the rise of football, football and feminism, militarism and leadership training, and multiculturalism in football. A broad and comprehensive analysis of the ways in which football addressed the cultural and ideological tensions within American society during its period of development and consolidation after the Civil War, this study is ideal for everyone from the football enthusiast to the general reader.

Viet Nam Vignettes: Tales of the Magnificent Bastards
ISBN: 1878282395

St Johann Pr. 2006

The Athletic Crusade: Sport and American Cultural Imperialism
ISBN: 0803222165

University of Nebraska Press. 2006

The Athletic Crusade is the first book to systematically analyze the role of sports in the expansion of U.S. empire from the 1890s through World War II. Gerald R. Gems details how white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant males set the standard for inclusion within American society, transferred that standard to foreign territories, and subtly used American sports to instill allegedly desirable racial, moral, and commercial virtues in colonial subjects. In the realm of such expansion, sports provided a less harsh, less militaristic means of instilling belief in a dominant system’s values and principles than more overt methods such as war.

The process of change, however, had unexpected consequences as subordinate groups adapted or even rejected American overtures. Sport became a means for nonwhites to challenge whiteness, Social Darwinism, and cultural hegemony by establishing their own physical prowess, claiming a measure of esteem, and creating a greater sense of national identity. Gems shows the direct influence of sports in Hawaii, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic and explores their comparatively minimal influence in countries such as China and Japan.

Amid increasing globalization, The Athletic Crusade offers a welcome perspective on how the United States has attempted to spread its influence in the past and the implications for the future of indigenous and other societies.

Sports in American History:From Colonization to Globalization
ISBN: 0736056211

Human Kinetics. 2008

Sports in American History: From Colonization to Globalization journeys from the early American past to the present to give students a compelling grasp of the historical evolution of American sporting practices. This text provides students with insights that will allow them to develop new and alternative perspectives, examine sport as a social and cultural phenomenon, generate a better understanding of current sport practices, and consider future developments in sport in American life.

This expansive text is the most comprehensive resource on sport history, providing coverage of sport by historical periods—from the indigenous tribes of premodern America, through colonial societies, to the era of sport in the United States today. Unlike previous sport history texts, Sports in American History examines how women, minorities, and ethnic and religious groups have influenced U.S. sporting culture. This gives students a broader knowledge of the complexities of sport, health, and play in the American experience and how historical factors, such as gender, ethnicity, race, and religion, provide a more complete understanding of sports in American history.

The easy-to-follow material is divided into nine chronological chapters starting with sporting practices in colonial America and ending with globalized sport today, making it ideal for a semester-long course. Each chapter includes objectives, an introduction, a summary of the points covered, and discussion questions to help students easily identify and remember the key concepts presented. In addition, the text has the following features:

-An extensive time line of significant sport and nonsport events gives students a handy reference point from which to view the past.

-End-of-chapter discussion questions help students comprehend the material and aid instructors in class preparation.

-Sidebars provide alternative perspectives about sport issues and developments, including international differences in the organization, play, and culture of sport. “People and Places” sidebars offer brief glimpses into key institutions and figures that have affected sport during a particular period.

-Primary documents from each historical period—including newspapers, illustrations, photographs, historical writings, quotations, and posters—are integrated into each chapter to bring the time periods to life for students.

-An extensive bibliography features primary and secondary sources in American sport history.

Sports in American History is unique in its level of detail, broad time frame, and focus on sports and the evolving definitions of physical activity and games. In addition, excerpts from primary documents provide firsthand accounts that will not only inform and fascinate readers but also provide a well-rounded perspective on the historical development of American sport. With sidebars offering an international viewpoint, this book will help students understand how historical events have shaped sport differently in the United States than in other parts of the world.

Understanding American Sports
ISBN: 0415443644

Routledge. 2009

Since the nineteenth century the USA has served as an international model for business, lifestyle and sporting success. Yet whilst the language of sport seems to be universal, American sports culture remains highly distinctive. Why is this so? How should we understand American sport? What can we learn about America by analyzing its sports culture?

Understanding American Sports offers discussion and critical analysis of the everyday sporting and leisure activities of ‘ordinary’ Americans as well as the ‘big three’ (football, baseball, basketball), and elite sports heroes. Throughout the book, the development of American sport is linked to political, social, gender and economic issues, as well as the orientations and cultures of the multilayered American society with its manifold regional, ethnic, social, and gendered diversities.

Topics covered include:

  • American college sports
  • the influence of immigrant populations
  • the unique status of American football
  • the emergence of women’s sport in the USA

With co-authors from either side of the Atlantic, Understanding American Sports uses both the outsider’s perspective and that of the insider to explain American sports culture. With its extensive use of examples and illustrations, this is an engrossing and informative resource for all students of sports studies and American culture.

The Chicago Sports Reader: 100 Years of Sports in the Windy City (Sport and Society)
ISBN: 0252032810

University of Illinois Press. 2009

This book examines Chicago's long and glorious history of recreational and competitive sport, and as the home of the finest sporting events and most loyal fans in the United States. This indispensable collection surveys the essential events and main teams in the city's sports history--the Bears, the Cubs, the White Sox, the Black Hawks, and the Bulls--as well as great Chicago sports legends Red Grange, Michael Jordan, and others. The authors also examine more specialized sports such as racing, cycling, and women's baseball. In addition to examining the highlights of Chicago sport, The Chicago Sports Reader also acknowledges a few lowlights, such as the role of organized crime, the Cubs' demise in 1969, and the infamous Black Sox scandal of 1919.

Contributors are George D. Bushnell, Susan K. Cahn, John M. Carroll, David Claerbaut, Bruce J. Evensen, Gerald R. Gems, Walter LeFeber, Robin Dale Lester, Michael E. Lomax, Daniel A. Nathan, Steven A. Riess, Cord Scott, and John Chi-Kit Wong.


  • (Finalist)

    Book of the year award, North American Society for Sport History, 2001 , '' For Pride, Profit, and Patriarchy

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

    Contact via the North Central College Speakers Bureau