Hero: Reflections on the Sporting Life

The SPORT Collection


A man sits silently in a clubhouse, alone in a sea of teammates, locked in his own private ritual of preparation. Another is absent entirely, the image of his wife and two young sons, one with bat and ball in hand, reinforcing one of the core realities of the athletic life. Yet another is joyously celebrating the ultimate professional accomplishment, a championship. This riveting group of images, drawn from The SPORT Collection, explores the private and public world of the professional athlete. In North America during the early and middle years of the 20th century, such individuals came to epitomize the ideals of ancient heroes. A hero by definition is a legendary man with superhuman powers who confronts danger with bravery. While the falseness of that constructed image may have been exposed in recent years, it is alive and well in these 31 images, concentrated on the 1940s through the 1970s.

Curated by Alana West