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- "If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?"
- –Vince Lombardi
- "Sports do not build character. They reveal it."
- –Heywood Broun
Historical Context Edit
Throughout most of human history, men have worked hard to have “fun” and enjoy their leisure time. Leisure was primarily a privilege for the affluent; everyone else faced an incessant struggle for food, shelter, clothing and safety. While folks had always enjoyed playing and watching sports, especially team sports, these had generally been amateur competitions – setting aside those bloody chariot races in Rome, ball games in Mesoamerica and polo matches in Persia. But with the leisure “industry” exploding during the Industrial Revolution and people willing to pay to watch paid athletes compete, and all those empty hours to fill for the working class, well … professional sports.
Public school sports and club sports in England had been the rage since the 1660s, and in the mid-1700s the first “first class” (semi-professional) teams in cricket were formed. Meanwhile, the Industrial Revolution was raging. As the masses moved to the cities they brought their rural sports with them; and advances in transport and communication opened opportunities for university teams to compete against each other. This all sparked efforts to impose standard rules, and in 1848 AD the Cambridge Rules codified the play of association football (known as soccer in some backward places). This in turn led to the establishment of the Football Association in 1863 in London, the first governing body of a spectator sport; the year before, the Notts County Football Club was paying some of its players, making it the oldest professional club in the world.
Meanwhile, across the pond, following the Civil War the sport of baseball captured the attention of the masses in northeastern America. Since money seemed a great incentive to play hard, several early baseball teams put their players on salary, the first being the Cincinnati Red Stockings beginning in 1869. In 1871 the first professional baseball league was created, and by the beginning of the 1900s most large cities in the eastern United States had one or more professional teams, divided in National and American divisions. And sports haven’t been “fun” since.