Some of the ideas in this essay were first presented under the same title at a symposium on ‘Sports, Games and Diversions in the Middle Ages and Renaissance’. As a Shakespearean – and one who easily loses his way in the field of medieval and Renaissance studies when he strays too far from Shakespeare – my response to the topic should perhaps have been a paper in which I discussed a sporting or gaming allusion in one of Shakespeare’s plays. There are, after all, many instances in the plays in which Elizabethan and Jacobean leisure pursuits are invoked to metaphorical or narrative effect, from falconry (Pope noted more than 50 examples) and wrestling to bear-baiting and gambling. This would, however, have been treading ground already well-trod. The quotation in my title was, moreover, somewhat misleading. In his famous opening soliloquy, Richard Crookback (Shakespeare’s villain, that is, as opposed to the historical king Richard III) complains that the apparent end of the conflict between the houses of Lancaster and York has resulted in men turning from conquests on the battlefield to conquests in the bedroom – ‘But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks ... cannot prove a lover’ (1.1.14-28).1 Here, then, sport is sex; hardly the form of sport, game or diversion suggested by the symposium’s theme.