Playing Pasts was established two years ago as the brainchild of a group of international Sport and Leisure History Researchers based in Crewe. The group had already established itself as a centre of excellence for the study of sport and leisure history and sought to consolidate their extensive engagement with the public by an online magazine devoted to the subject and Playing Pasts was born (

The aim of the magazine was to provide a unique opportunity for established scholars, early-career researchers, as well as postgraduates and non-academic practitioners to publicise their work in an accessible and visually arresting blog format, which appeals to communities that often find themselves disconnected from Higher Education research agendas.

The resulting site is truly innovative: before its inception there was no global digital outlet for the public history of sports and leisure. ‘Playing Pasts’ has not only allowed intellectual exchange between academic and public historians to thrive, it has also brought their work to new audiences, enabled democratic commentary and engagement through social media, and increased the credibility of the subject by highlighting its massive international popularity within communities around the world.  Recent testimonials have included such comments as: ‘I am constantly amazed at how many articles in Playing Pasts I find totally absorbing’ and ‘Currently enjoying Playing Pasts. Journals without pictures are like fish without chips so I always look forward to its arrival’.

During the magazine’s two years, its popularity has steadily grown both in terms of contributors to the site and readers of the articles. To date over 60 individuals from different scholarly constituencies have showcased their research, including academics, non-academic experts, postgraduates and early-career researchers, with the monthly visit/read count topping over 13,000 with an international reach – USA, France, Germany, Sweden and Netherlands being the top five non-UK countries engaging with the site.

The magazine content includes the weekly ‘Featured Article’ and popular digests, such as ‘On this week in Sport and Leisure History’ and ‘Where Are They Now?’ and has recently been augmented by a section devoted to videoed lectures, which has proved very popular.

So – would you like to join us on Playing Pasts?  Have you got something you would like to share about the history of sport or leisure? As you can see from the site, the subjects are interpreted as widely as possible, whether that be circuses or pantomime, fell walking or rowing, unusual or traditional sports, or anything else you have a passion about, we would be delighted to hear from you.  No previous academic experience is needed, just contact the Editor-in-Chief, Margaret Roberts, on for help and advice.  We are also always looking for new ideas and innovations to keep the site fresh and vibrant so any ideas or thoughts on content would be very welcome.

Two years ago we had no idea that the magazine would reach such popularity and would like to thank all contributors for their part in making it the success it is today – so THANK YOU and get writing that next article…….

Website –

Twitter – @playing_pasts