The Influence Of Sports In Colonial America

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Attitudes towards sport in colonial America when carefully examined provide important information about the societies which their founders sought to built.Those colonies settled by religious objectors from the Church of England resisted English sporting practices as a threat to the social and more importantly religious order they sought to escape. In colonies founded and dominated by those who came principally in search of fortunes, elements of English sporting culture were intentionally imported to imitate the ways of the Old World and then refined to enforce a social and racial hierarchy. Sport was a means by which colonists defined their relationship with England and their vision of their own society. The Puritans and Quakers who dominated …show more content…
These newcomers, predominantly members of the Church of England, had no desire to abandon the culture and the favorite recreations of their home country. They found a land whose founder William Penn had legislated a recreational environment very different from the one they had left. Penn believed it was the duty of good government to promote social order and religious morality. This is why his law code forbade “rude and riotous sports.” Popular amusements in England posed threats to public order. English Cockfighting contests, as one such event was described in the diary of Oliver Heyward, could be prefaced by violent conflict between social classes and followed by drunken partying. English football games, like the game called hurling played in Cornwall, were often played to commemorate religious holy days. They were community affairs, organized by gentry and played by mobs with few rules and no concrete boundaries. Penn’s laws were been repeatedly overruled by the English Privy Council, who had no issue with animal blood sports, card games, or stage-plays. As the newcomers poured into Pennsylvania, the Quakers lost their battle against “riotous” sport. Cockfighting became popular. The governor went to a circus. Pennsylvania, despite the efforts of its namesake, had been overwhelmed by …show more content…
Like in the rice fields of lowcounty plantations, Stroyer and other enslaved men cultivated the product itself; training and caring for the thoroughbred horses. As on plantations across the South, their work was overseen by enslaved black overseers and free white men who lacked the wealth and status of the plantation owners themselves. These men, who owned plantations in additions to stables of horses, were the ones who benefited from the success of the animals groomed by the others. While high bets were common, greater importance was placed on how victory granted the owner of winning animals a wealth of prestige. As Sparks noted in his article, “The point of play was the distribution of honor and status.” As a winning thoroughbred proved the prowess and respectability of its pedigree, so did its owner.
The Carolina Jockey Club established in Charleston in 1734 more than a decade before the English Jockey Club was an institution, which served not only as a sporting club, but as a social center. The annual Race Week was a proving ground for the planter class to display their prowess through both the performance of their horses on the track and the elegance of their daughters at the ball. Through the importation of race horses and development of such social customs, Southern elites were proving their hegemony over the society in which they lived and worthy of comparison to the gentry of the old

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