In Switzerland as elsewhere, the effects and resonances of sporting activities affect the economic, political, health, and cultural spheres, and the institutionalization of sport is a process that makes it possible to understand the structuring dynamics of our modernity in a unique way.
Considering those facts and in order to understand the important role played by sport in Swiss society, the “La Fabrique des sports nationaux” project—funded between 2019 and 2023 by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)—proposes to focus on the origins and early development of sport in Switzerland from 1860 to 1930. This process of establishing the main sports in Swiss society more generally follows the political, economic, and cultural development of the country itself, whose modern state structure dates back to 1848. The research focuses on the development of five sports: cycling, gymnastics, football, shooting, and what are generally referred to as “national games,” consisting of Hornussen and Swiss wrestling.
In this article, we will briefly summarize the main objectives of this project and then develop a central aspect of it: the extensive research on Swiss sports elites.