Like athletes whose performances are the result of con-
certed e√orts of many people working away from the bright
lights, this book is the product of a multitude of individuals
who have provided assistance at various points throughout
its development. My initial interest in Cuba was fostered by Nelson Valdés
at the University of New Mexico, who provided my first opportunity to
visit Havana. The Anthropology Department and the Latin American and
Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico provided my initial
support for beginning to understand sport as a social phenomenon. Two
individuals in particular stood out: Karl Schwerin—for his willingness to
give a doctoral student su≈cient space to take risks into the unknown, as
there was no one in the anthropology department with expertise on Cuba
nor was there anyone known to any of us with expertise on sport; and
Keith Basso—for his initial suggestion for doing an ethnography of base-
ball and his subsequent conversations on the art of pitching. Rob Lavenda
brought me briefly to St. Cloud State University, where he provided the
creative space for starting the initial draft of this book. A postdoctoral
fellowship at the School of Anthropological Studies at the Queen’s Uni-
versity of Belfast was central to this book’s formation. The School pro-
vided the necessary space and environment to reformulate and develop
ideas further. Hastings Donnan, Tom Wilson, and Tracey Heatherington,
in particular, all commented and provided invaluable advice on drafts of
various earlier sections. A stint at the University of Wales, Newport, prior
to my arrival at the University of Brighton also allowed time for refor-
mulating certain aspects of the book. In Brighton, I found an environ-
ment that provided su≈cient space and support to finalize this book. The
librarians at all of the above institutions, especially Martin Edwards in
Newport, were extremely helpful and patient in obtaining what must have
seemed to them to be obscure and somewhat bizarre publications. There
are many others who have provided timely advice and support, but those
who stand out in my memory include Paul Ryer, Laurie Frederik, Nancy
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