A People's History of Sports in the United States: 250 Years by Dave Zirin

By Dave Zirin

A rollicking, rebellious, myth-busting historical past of activities in the USA that places politics within the ring with pop culture.

summary: A rollicking, rebellious, myth-busting heritage of activities in the USA that places politics within the ring with popular culture

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Extra info for A People's History of Sports in the United States: 250 Years of Politics, Protest, People, and Play

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67 This was also the year of the general strike. 68 The tumult was a harbinger of transformation. From 1860 to 1900 the population of the United States grew from 31 million to 75 million; now 20 million people lived west of the Mississippi, and the number of farms grew from 2 million to 6 million. 69 With overcrowded cities came conflict. In 1884, women’s assemblies of textile workers and hat makers went on strike. The following year in New York, cloak and shirt makers, both men and women (holding separate meetings but acting together), went on strike.

9 A glacial change in attitudes was starting to seep in as early as the seventeenth century. The question raised—and still unanswered—by these nouveau Puritans was whether sports could be moderated or needed to be banished. ”10 New modes of play also arose, especially as the first glimmerings of a consumer society appeared early in the eighteenth century. Merchants sold toys and card tables, dancing instructors began to give lessons, and taverns and pubs sponsored games. ”11 But another way of looking at sports—as neither harmless diversion or corrupting debauchery—was on the rise among the new private ownership class.

The aristocracy in places such as Virginia and the Carolinas molded their lives in European noble terms of building a leisured paradise. They envisioned an easy and bountiful life on fresh and fertile soil. The English heritage of fairs, feast days, and sports became the tangible expression of their aspirations. In this culture, horse racing became the most popular, best organized, and most important American sport from the colonial era well into the nineteenth century. In addition to horse races, which could run over the course of a week, fox and quail hunts were a part of this life.

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