The Social and Cultural Factors of Modern Sports
When we observe modern sports and see the progress it has made, we can t help but to look at the factors in the past that shaped sports, which has shaped our culture much in the same way. Urbanization, for example, affected organized sports much like it affected our culture. Better transportation and increased communication also helped spread sports and how we know them today. Let us not forget changing attitudes in business and how it trickled down to athletic competition.
For starters, let s look at the industrial revolution and the role it had in shaping sports. In the rural areas, new farming methods and inventions led for an increase supply in crops and hence a decrease in demand for farmers. New inventions included the seed drill by Jethro Tull, which enabled more seeds to be planted in a less amount of time. In 1769, James Watt invented the steam engine so there was a new source of energy that led to more factories. With these new factories, unemployed citizens migrated to the cities for work. Cities grew, but how does this affect the molding of modern sports?
Let s start from a practical standpoint. Wouldn t it be easier to get a game going by yelling to your friends on your block then traveling three miles like in a rural area? This increased participation made for increased popularity in sports. This also gave people a way to meet each other. Not only that, but it gave people a way to make a name for themselves. If someone came from a working class family, they could achieve fame through everything from prizefighting to baseball.
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Employers in the factories supported competition as well. Sports gave the labor class an activity besides drinking. A lot of the principles in sports also are principles in work. Teamwork, dedication, competition, is all factors in business as well. That s probably why many of the first organized teams were sponsored by businesses.
Transportation innovations like the steam engine increased the popularity of sports. The level of competition was raised tremendously because the best teams in, for example baseball could travel to Chicago or Boston to play each other. This also increased popularity because the games were much more exciting from a fan s point of view. It also made it possible for competitions such as prizefighting remain possible. Fighters were brought by the steamboat to areas were prizefighting was legal. International competition such as the Olympics was able to happen because of the steamboat.
The last social factor in molding modern sports in the nineteenth century was the Victorian culture. This was the middle class people who believed more in hard work than anything else was. This included not wasting time, energy, or money on sports. Recreation for this class was gymnastics for health and body wellness. From this culture spawned a counterculture that rebelled from these ideals. This was primarily the labor class whose ideals primarily included drinking, gambling, and playing.
These counterVictorians gathered at sporting events and saloons to drink and bet. These activities further promoted the playing of sports such as prizefighting. Not only that, but they began to gain a sense of pride through athletic competition. This counterculture began the following of athletics and served as not only the chief participants in athletic competition, but also the chief fan base.