The Stadium: An American History of Politics, Protest, and Play

Frank Andre Guridy

Basic Books, 2024

Agent: Jill Marr

The sweeping story of the American stadium—from the first wooden ballparks to today’s glass and steel mega-arenas—revealing how it has made, and remade, American life

Stadiums are monuments to recreation, sports, and pleasure. Yet from the earliest ballparks to the present, stadiums have also functioned as public squares. Politicians have used them to cultivate loyalty to the status quo, while activists and athletes have used them for anti-fascist rallies, Black Power demonstrations, feminist protests, and much more.  

In this book, historian Frank Guridy recounts the contested history of play, protest, and politics in American stadiums. From the beginning, stadiums were political, as elites turned games into celebrations of war, banned women from the press box, and enforced racial segregation. By the 1920s, they also became important sites of protest as activists increasingly occupied the stadium floor to challenge racism, sexism, homophobia, fascism, and more. Following the rise of the corporatized stadium in the 1990s, this complex history was largely forgotten. But today’s athlete-activists, like Colin Kaepernick and Megan Rapinoe, belong to a powerful tradition in which the stadium is as much an arena of protest as a palace of pleasure. 

Moving between the field, the press box, and the locker room, this book recovers the hidden history of the stadium and its important role in the struggle for justice in America.  


"Sports fans, history buffs, social movement examiners  - not necessarily an expected interest confluence - will find this work illuminating. It is an accessible and thought provoking effort that every person who has sat in the stands or admired a stadium from afar would be wise to read." --Eric Holder  


"All of the hallmarks of Frank Guridy’s many talents are vividly apparent in The Stadium, a deeply researched work that is beautifully shaped with meticulous and engaging detail, all crafted with Guridy’s usual flair for writing about sport from an intensely historical perspective.  Guridy situates the landscape of America’s favorite playing spaces as pathways to understanding some of the most complicated facets of our society, from political maneuverings to activist uprisings, all within the ever-increasing corporate model of the modern sport arena." --Amy Bass, author of One Goal and Not the Triumph but the Struggle

“An astute reminder that democracy depends on public spaces where people can congregate and political action can occur...a fascinating story”  Kirkus