October 2011 For immediate release New leisure book delves into ancient and sci-fi history

A new book which reveals that sporting rivalries and wealthy club owners have been around since Roman times has been published by a Leeds Metropolitan University academic.

The book charts the idea of leisure from ancient history through to modern times and suggests that the Roman and Byzantine obsession with chariotracing has many parallels to how professional football clubs operate today. “Constructing Leisure: Historical and Philosophical Debates” by Professor Karl Spracklen, provides a philosophical account of leisure through historical time: how leisure was constructed and understood by historical actors, how historians have reconstructed past leisure and how writers have perceived the meaning and purpose of leisure in alternative histories.

The book examines leisure in different societies and cultures throughout history, including Roman and Byzantine Leisure. The most obvious parallel with ancient leisure and modern leisure, Professor Spracklen tells us, is around chariot-racing: “The Romans and the Byzantines were great lovers of chariot-racing (big events staged in large stadia) with thousands of fans cheering on their favourite teams. There were four teams represented by different colours at the start of the Roman Empire, and each team had its dedicated supporters: the Roman Emperor Nero was a fan of the Greens, for example. The teams were like professional football clubs today, with rich sponsors, hooligan supporters and lots of built-in wealth. By the time of the

Byzantine Empire, the Blues and the Greens were involved in politics, setting fashions and acting like street gangs, according to our limited sources.” Karl added: “The new book offers a broad overview, even including alternative history and alternative futures as suggested by science fiction and fantasy novels, for example it looks at the universe that Star Trek provides for the leisure lives of its residents. For officers in the original TV series on Federation starships such as the USS Enterprise, there are sports facilities, gardens and vast electronic libraries. By the time of the starships of the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation, new starships come equipped with holodecks, where every kind of fantasy can be re-enacted in one’s leisure time. This shift from leisure as improvement and leisure as pleasure reflected changing attitudes towards leisure among the makers of the TV series, from the optimists of the 1960s to the Reaganites of the USA in the 1980s.”

Professor Spracklen lectures at Leeds Metropolitan on the subjects of sociology of sport, leisure theory and popular culture and is Chair of the Leisure Studies Association (LSA). His new book, published by Palgrave Macmillan, acts as a sequel to his 2009 book, “The Meaning and Purpose of Leisure”, which discussed leisure in the modern day.

Ends For further details please contact Carrie Braithwaite in the News and Media team at Leeds Met on 0113 812 3022 or email c.braithwaite@leedsmet.ac.uk Notes for editors:   Leeds Metropolitan University has 30,000 students and 3, 000 staff. The University has achieved its best ever Research Assessment Exercise results. Sports-Related Studies is in the top 6 institutions in the country with research rated at the highest levels of 4* and 3*.

Leeds Met has been rated the top university in the UK for its language support, accommodation quality and learning spaces in the 2010 Autumn Wave of the International Student Barometer and sixth in the world for the quality of its lectures.

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Broadcasting Place, voted the best tall building in the world in 2010 by the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) and also winner of the 2010 Leeds Architecture Awards New Building category, the iconic Rose Bowl building, awarded Best Commercial Property Development in the 2009 Yorkshire Property Awards and the pioneering Carnegie Village student accommodation.  Leeds Metropolitan is one of only a handful of UK universities to have been awarded the Carbon Trust Standard.