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Edited by Ellis Cashmore. Andover: Published by Taylor and Francis, 2002, £13.99 (softcover), pp 304. ISBN 0-415-25322-5
For those involved in sports and exercise medicine, sport psychology principles and interventions are well recognised in providing advantage among physically equal competitors. A book that seeks to provide the key concepts of sport psychology, rather than be encyclopaedic, is welcome to the non‐specialist caring for a sporting team and individuals.
Does this book achieve its goal of providing the key concepts of sport psychology? In brief, no. There is an unevenness in the coverage of topics, which is surprising. Depression is dealt with in two paragraphs, which is inadequate for a condition that is under‐recognised in sports participants and affects their performance and role in society. Transexuality is discussed in terms of individuals but not in terms of the psychology underlying the condition. There is an interesting discussion of left‐handedness, but I am unsure why this is a key concept in sport psychology.
These criticisms may reflect the author's stated consideration of sport as a social activity with historical and cultural influences. Such a multifactorial approach does not seem to be compatible with the aim of elucidating “key concepts”. These deficiencies reflect negatively on the author's attempt to consider psychological terms in general use and provide a more concise technical meaning consistent with academic theory and research. Detailed “further readings” and relevant bibliography are positive features of this book, but not the failure to paginate the “list of concepts”.
When first viewing this book, I was perplexed by the failure of the publisher to list the author's formal qualifications, which is fundamental in allowing a reader to assess the author's credibility to contribute to the discipline of sport psychology. Luckily, the author has a website! Professor Cashmore has a bachelor's and a master's degree in sociology, and his PhD was on the Rastafarian movement in England.
The French philosopher Paul Ricoeur observed that “enigma does not block understanding but provokes it”. Professor Cashmore's book is not a source of such insight and cannot be recommended.