The evolution of english sports

Aug 2019
188
Netherlands
Most english sports look mainly invented by aristocracy. I guess we don't see that much in other country's. How come?

 

GogLais

Ad Honorem
Sep 2013
5,634
Wirral
Not entirely sure about that - off the top of my head and without looking into it. I suspect ordinary people played some version of games and the aristocracy codified and formalised them in the nineteenth century, perhaps not croquet.
 
Feb 2017
275
Devon, UK
The English aristocracy recognise only three sports, Hunting, Shooting and Fishing, the rest are merely games.

That said both croquet and cricket have their origins (and the root of their respective names) in games introduced by immigrant Flemish weavers in the middle ages. Stoolball comes from the same source. Football, of a sort was traditionally played on certain feast days and frequently involved (and in some cases still does) whole villages and a fair degree of violence.

The codification of general (rather than specifically local) rules largely occurred when they began to be adopted and encouraged by institutions such as schools, universities and the military as forms of leisure that promoted physical fitness and 'built character'. There being nothing more 'character building' than being trodden into the mud every week by someone twice your size and twice as ugly.

It's these institutions and the choices they made that were largely responsible for spreading Cricket (in particular) and Rugby Union throughout the British Empire whereas the wider dissemination of Association Football can be attributed in part to the spread of railways and other technologies that initially relied on British engineers and workers to get them up and running.
 

Naomasa298

Forum Staff
Apr 2010
36,310
T'Republic of Yorkshire
The English aristocracy recognise only three sports, Hunting, Shooting and Fishing, the rest are merely games.

That said both croquet and cricket have their origins (and the root of their respective names) in games introduced by immigrant Flemish weavers in the middle ages. Stoolball comes from the same source. Football, of a sort was traditionally played on certain feast days and frequently involved (and in some cases still does) whole villages and a fair degree of violence.

The codification of general (rather than specifically local) rules largely occurred when they began to be adopted and encouraged by institutions such as schools, universities and the military as forms of leisure that promoted physical fitness and 'built character'. There being nothing more 'character building' than being trodden into the mud every week by someone twice your size and twice as ugly.

It's these institutions and the choices they made that were largely responsible for spreading Cricket (in particular) and Rugby Union throughout the British Empire whereas the wider dissemination of Association Football can be attributed in part to the spread of railways and other technologies that initially relied on British engineers and workers to get them up and running.
Henry VIII was a fan of real tennis.

And Prince Charles of polo.
 
Feb 2017
275
Devon, UK
Henry VIII was a fan of real tennis.

And Prince Charles of polo.
I was being (somewhat) facetious in the making the distinction between 'sports' and 'games', at least as regards the modern usage of the terms. But it did exist, nothing to stop royalty and the aristocracy playing games if they enjoyed them but 'sport' was the hunt and and variations thereof.

My opening line is paraphrased but it comes from what an army officer that I used to work with told me he had parroted at him in his interview for Sandhurst. In answer to a question about which sports he played he mentioned rugby and got that reply.
 

GogLais

Ad Honorem
Sep 2013
5,634
Wirral
The English aristocracy recognise only three sports, Hunting, Shooting and Fishing, the rest are merely games.
And I thought games were things like Snakes and Ladders and Ludo.
According to Wiki šŸ˜®thereā€™s a manuscript of c. 1100 that refers to ā€œplaying at ballā€, a game that became the West Wales cnapan. Not played any longer because too many injuries resulted.
 
Apr 2014
305
Liverpool, England
The English aristocracy recognise only three sports, Hunting, Shooting and Fishing, the rest are merely games.

The codification of general (rather than specifically local) rules largely occurred when they began to be adopted and encouraged by institutions such as schools, universities and the military as forms of leisure that promoted physical fitness and 'built character'. There being nothing more 'character building' than being trodden into the mud every week by someone twice your size and twice as ugly.
"Character-building" does not specify what sort of character. "Bitter and twisted" presumably counts.
 
Feb 2017
275
Devon, UK
"Character-building" does not specify what sort of character. "Bitter and twisted" presumably counts.
Four years of compulsory rugby certainly honed my instinct for self preservation. Then I switched to hockey, at least that gave me a weapon and a fighting chance.
 
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Kevinmeath

Ad Honoris
May 2011
14,202
Navan, Ireland
People have always played games especially games such as football (with many different rules) but in the English 'Public schools' in the centuries leading up to and during the Industrial Revolution these were considered important character forming activities.

As the Industrial revolution kicked in cities grew and there could be many 'football' teams (and in summer cricket) also workers started to have time off ,initially not just Sundays but also Saturday afternoons. Many teams formed ,often around a Church who wished to keep young men out of the pub, at least for awhile or benevolent industrialists encouraged their workers to play.

Now if all these teams are going to play each other they need agreed rules. Moreover as the railways spread people moved around and even teams from different towns could play each other they need rules. So sets of rules started to be written down.

The oldest I believe is actually Australian Rules, an Association of London clubs wrote down 'Association Football' (soccer), I prefer to play by those rules followed by Rugby school.

These games spread through Britain's Imperial and Commercial Empire.

Excellent book on the subject

Can We Have Our Balls Back, Please?
 
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