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Publisher Description

Boston is a sports town. It has been at the forefront of sports development and innovation from the earliest days. Neither the opposition of the clergy nor the strictness of the laws could keep all of the Puritans away from the seventeenth century tavern games all of the time. The Boston Book of Sports is a comprehensive survey of sports and recreational activity in and around Boston from 1630 to 1980. In the mid 17th century the local authorities frowned on sports for many reasons including that it gave people pleasure and reduced work efficiency. But the influence of the Mother country, successive waves of immigrants, and many other domestic social/cultural themes changed all that. In the rules and regulations (1642) of Harvard College, the only exercise allowed was to read the scriptures twice a day. New England and Puritan asceticism, economic scarcity, and religious devotion combined to overwhelm any possibility of formal sports programs and growth. But the allure of sports is compelling and even in a hostile environment its pleasures were pursued. Toward the end of the 17th century, considerations, circumstances, and attitudes began to change rapidly. Once it changed, sports history was in the making and Boston became the cradle of sports in America. This book is about the people, places, and events of Boston sports history. It indicates the pattern of sports development in Boston from 1630 to the present, recalls the people and events that were important to that development, describes many ways in which that development and the city interacted, and explains why what happened in Boston was important regionally, nationally, and internationally. An acceptance of dancing as a recreation helped make other kinds of pleasure acceptable. As life became less arduous, Sabbath restrictions were relaxed and sports began to be perceived as a method for combating ill health. Harvard College, its students, and its alumni had a major impact on the growth local sports forms, rules, and structures as well as their diffusion to all levels and to other areas. Americas first YMCA was established in Boston in 1851, followed by a YWCA where working girls of the city were especially invited. The YMCA movement itself provided the setting for the creation of the uniquely American sports of basketball and volleyball. The 1852 intercollegiate rowing race between Harvard and Yale marked the formal beginning of sports competitions among educational institutions in this country; football, golf, baseball, yachting and gymnastics as part of the school curriculum all got their start in Boston. This book includes information about the background of boxing, road sports and harness racing in Boston. It recounts the beginning of the Boston Athletic Association, and even describes sand parks which led to the organized play movement in the U.S and later extended to adolescent playgrounds where sports and recreation were taught and encouraged. Boston might well be said to be the cradle of sports in America. It hosted Americas first World Series, its first marathon, its first Davis Cup match. Bicycling, figure skating, golf, squash, lacrosse, field and ice hockey, are just some of the sports popularized and propelled across the country by Boston teams, colleges, and clubs. This comprehensive review brings people, places, and events to life. The chapter headings illustrate the broad range of social and cultural forces that forged the development of sports and later were forged by it as it gained strength and following. Predominant attitudes toward sports are depicted in the chapter headings, which are titled according to historical periods as: Sports as Sin: 1630-1710 Sports as Recreation and Amusement: 1700-1810 Sports of Health and Wealth: 1800-1860 Sports of Campus and Clubs: 1850-1895 Sports of Parks and Playgrounds: 1885-1920 Sports for Amateurs and Spectators : 1910-1945 Sports of Professionals and Commerce: 1940-1970

Sports & Outdoors
June 3