The effect of sports on today’s world, particularly in the United States, is indeed profound. The history of sport has the potential to teach us a great deal about social changes and the nature of sport itself. Over the past twenty-five years or so, the field of history has expanded, embracing a broader view of historical topics and going far beyond political and military history in refiguring the historical paths of this and other nations (Nelson).
Throughout the many years during the Pre-Colonial era, Colonial era, Industrial Revolution, Post Civil War, and the Twentieth Century, the sports industry was created with several factors affecting its formation. The Pre-Colonial era consisted of the time prior to 1500’s. During this time in North America, the land had been consumed by the Native Americans and their culture. Population was spreading widely across the continent. The people of this era were found to be genuine and quiet. Daily activities such as hunting, farming, running, and warfare slowly turned into more of physical activity and competitive games for leisure.
Recreational play was seen as an outlet. Physical activity and games, more often than not, were linked to spiritual beliefs. Staying “fit” was essential. Common sports known during pre-colonial time were lacrosse, archery, and running. Colonial America started with the Puritans bombarding America during 1600-1800 A. D. to break away from the churches, religions, and beliefs. The Puritans were found to be extremely hard working which was a result from the motivation of staying alive. The Puritans were also widely known (and still to this day) of being very religiously involved.
Games were considered to be “wicked” or sinful; such as gambling and drinking. Aside from the Puritans, sport marketing started to make an appearance during the Colonial era, leading to the growth of interest and participation in sports. Tavern owners were the first known sport marketers on record. Taverns would announce games and sport through posters and word of mouth. During this time the common sports were found to fit the lifestyle and culture; such as horse racing, running, arm wrestling, rifle, cockfighting, and boxing. Colonial America was the start to our sporting industry.
The Technological & Industrial Revolution occurred along with the Post Civil War era during 1800-1900. Throughout these one hundred years the sport industry was growing rapidly along with technology, factories, immigration, companies, and educational systems. Due to the growth in technology and factories, citizens had more time and more money; therefore recreation was used to fill downtime causing our sport industry to grow further. Faster modes of travel started to develop and be more convenient, helping organized sports form.
Immigrants added to the industry by introducing their sports to America as well. Modern spectator sports were on a rise such as boxing, running, and horse racing. However, the Civil War era negatively affected sports by slowing sport activities due to the lack of men and overall population in society. Once men started leaving for war more and more women took jobs that had once belonged to men, which was a huge impact on society as this was the first sign of equality between men and women (Nelson).
The working structure was seen as “feminizing” society, sports helped to “masculine” society. Wealth was on the rise after the war forcing sports to become very class specific, and the upper class tried to exclude lower classes; Class and race were a deciding factor for accepted participation in sports. The first known organized sports team; New York Knickerbockers’ were a baseball club created in the 1840’s and Intercollegiate Athletics first event occurred in 1852, Harvard and Yale competed in a rowing contest. Society was soon hooked on sports.
The era of Twentieth Century made the most dramatic century of growth yet for the sports industry. Sports became part of our educational system as organizations formed to work together creating codifications for different sports, improving equipment, and increasing social involvement. Sports were taken to a very serious level in the early 1900’s. In 1904 the NCAA was founded to hold conferences, regulate rules along with player eligibility, and made coaches from educators. Competitive sports led to changes in our educational system when it established physical education positions.
These positions forced research into sports because of the need for better and newer physical education curriculum. At first, Females were allowed to be involved in sports at a noncompetitive level or to promote health. The participation of women in sports grew over time however, with society being the critical factor. Upper-class and middle-class women were absolutely restricted from playing sports as it was thought to not be “proper. ” The National Football League was created in 1911 which turned out to be a major step in the development of sports as entertainment.
In 1941 society’s values of class, sex, and race was evident when Joe Namath signed a contract for $400,000 while Curt Flood, a slave had a salary of nothing. In 1972, Title Nine was put into act guaranteeing no discrimination regarding sex for sport institutions. Transportation was even more advanced helping organized sports teams compete against one another. Television and newspapers impacted sports by airing sporting events, criticizing and critiquing each play, as well as displaying the opinion of the program broadcasters.
The most popular, known, and leading sports network ESPN aired its first national NFL broadcast in 1987 (Giordano). ESPN started offering magazines, national sports radio, and satellite radio in 1992 in attempt to curve the educational desire of the sporting society. ESPN changed the culture of sports. The history of sport is most likely as old as the existence of man. Physical activity, games, and daily activities contributed to the creation of organized sports with codification.
Throughout the many years during the Pre-Colonial era, Colonial era, Industrial Revolution, Post Civil War, and the Twentieth Century, the sports industry has proved several, very different, and unexpected factors affecting its formation. The sports industry is continuing to grow rapidly year after year, changing with society’s values and lifestyle.
Giordano , Peter. “The Evolution of ESPN. ” SOP: News, Interviews, & More.. (2007): n. page. Web. 14 Sep. 2011. <http://thesop. org/story/sports/2007/04/29/the-evolution-of-espn. php>. Kindred. “Century is over… get the lights. ” Sporting News 224. 1 (2000): 63. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 14 Sept. 2011. McClung, Lisa R. , and Nancy E. Spencer. “Women and Sport in the 1990s: Reflections on ‘Embracing Stars, Ignoring Players. ‘. ” Journal of Sport Management 15. 4 (2001): 318. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 14 Sept. 2011. Nelson, Murry. “Sports History as a Vehicle for Social and Cultural Understanding in American History. ” Social Studies 96. 3 (2005): 118-125. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 13 Sept. 2011.