From the beginning of the article:
Were it necessary to identify Mogens Hansen’s distinguished career with a single aspect of ancient history, I believe that Athenian Democracy would spring to mind. I hope, then, that it is justified to pay honor to him by an examination of one part of the ancient Greek cultural environment that was, as I hope to show, indispensible to the invention of democracy both in Athens and elsewhere in the ancient Greek world.
The institution of democracy has always held fascination for citizens of modern western states even if we are so accustomed to that form of government which we call democracy today that we sometimes forget what a tremendous and startling invention it was. As a result, our examinations are more frequently directed toward the history of the institution and its workings rather than toward its origins. That tendency was accentuated during the recent celebration of the 2,500th anniversary of Kleisthenes’ reforms with the appearance of a series of books and articles that dealt with a wide range of subjects relevant to the history and operation of democracy, but that almost always ignored completely the role of athletics in democracy. On those rare occasions when athletics were considered, they were dismissed as an aristocratic monopoly that served to provide ordinary citizens with “the spectacle of elite conflicts” and therefore had no role in the origins of Greek democracy. I believe the opposite is true.