As Americans we have grown up in a cultural that is dominated by sports and recreation. This is not a new phenomenon, as sports and recreation has been a key part of our society nearly from the inception. This research paper will look at four separate, but integral aspects that played an important role in the way in which colonial people participated in sports, and recreation. The four aspects that will be focused on are religion, social class, gender, and geographic location. I will outline how these played a role in terms of participation, and why they did so.
However, to truly understand these concepts and their role on our society as a whole we have to look at how our country was founded. When the first settlers came to this new world they were not focused on creating suitable forms of recreation. They were focused on survival, or the search for riches. Leaders like John Smith helped to make sure settlements such as Jamestown remained in 1608, and his leadership placed a focus on survival, and establishing a settlement in this new world, rather than focusing on material riches, or recreation. As mentioned in American Colonies by Louis Wright, people that came over to this new world were the same people who enjoyed many of the liberties of life that they were provided back in England, such as theater. However, these forms of recreation were not present among these first settlers, as stated by Wright,
“The reason for the early neglect of the drama are easy to understand. The incredible hardships of the early years of settlement left no time or desire for dramatic entertainment. The settlers found drama enough in their fight for survival, and the weary laborers in the desperate little colony needed no play acing to distract them from the tasks of ensuring their continued existence.”
Recreation did not grow in the colonies until there were stable settlements. To go along with these stable settlements there was also an increase in wealth, population, and urban areas. The increase in these three things promoted the need for recreation with in the colonies. It is easily understood that as colonies were established the colonist were able to earn a steady source of income. This allowed them to take time out of there day and spend it in recreation, as they were able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Along with this increase in wealth came an increase in population, more people moved to the colonies and formed a merchant class which drew other colonists and created urban areas within the colonies. These urban areas would later become the hubs for spectator sports within the American colonies.
Recreation was viewed as a vital part of a man’s daily routine within colonial society. The idea of recreation was an important part of English society which, as stated above was brought to light after settlements were permanently established. Recreation served three purposes within English society. It relived stress from daily life,...