Discuss Athletics as a Pre-Industrial Popular Recreation and as a Post-Industrial Rational Recreation. Include a Critical Evaluation of the Effect of Social Class on Participation in Popular and Rational Athletic Events

792 WordsMay 9, 20134 Pages
Athletics had relative importance in pre-industrial Britain mostly taking place at traditional fairs and festivals. For example a wake was seen as a great social occasion whereby mainly the lower class men would compete in events such as stick fighting, running, climbing a greasy pole and wrestling. These activities were seen as ‘athletic’ events and were an opportunity for the lower class men to show off their power and strength to the women. In addition women had the opportunity to take part in events such as smock races. Festivals and fairs such as these would take place on church holy days such as Easter and were seen as a chance for celebration and enjoyment. Prime examples of Festivals such as these include the Much Wenlock and Dover…show more content…
However, athletics developed dramatically as a postindustrial rational recreation. The industrial revolution ended the traditional festivals and fairs as people moved to bigger cities in search of jobs. Instead, professional athletes became more popular especially in the cities and the sport modernized significantly. There were a number of purpose build specialist tracks by the end of the 1850s, which lead to an increase in the number of competitions that took place. These competitions would often have extremely large amounts of spectators of up to 20,000, helped by the improvements in transport such as the railways. Wagering of pre-industrial Britain was replaced with a more sophisticated type of gambling whereby people would bet on the winners of each race. Athletics as a rational recreation involved both the upper and lower classes. The upper and new middle classes were generally amateurs and would compete for the enjoyment and ability to ‘show off’ to friends whereas the working class would become professionals and ran to make money. However the ex-university gentleman did not want to compete against professionals and founded the Amateur Athletics Club in 1866 in order to exclude the working class professionals from competing against them. In 1880 the Amateur Athletics Association was formed which then recognized all areas of society, and therefore the exclusion clause was

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