Sport and recreation in the United States
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- Introduction 3
- 1. SPORT AND ITS DEVELOPMENT IN THE USA 4
- 1.1. Historical background, names of national sports, borrowed games 4
- 1.2. Problems and prospects of American sport 6
- 2. THE VARIETY OF AMERICAN SPORTS 9
2.1. Professional sport 9
2.1.1. The business of sport 9
2.1.2. Major sports 10
188.8.131.52. Baseball and business 10
184.108.40.206. Basketball 12
220.127.116.11. Football: an American spectacle 13
18.104.22.168. Bowling 15
2.1.3. Problems in professional sport 16
2.1.4. Olympic Games and the names of American heroes 17
2.2. Leisure sports 17
2.2.1. Badminton 17
2.2.2. Bowling 20
2.3. Sports for the disabled 21
2.4. Women in sports 22
2.4.1. Women and traditional sports and games 23
2.4.2. Women’s sport in the 19th century 24
2.4.3. Challenging gendered boundaries 25
2.4.4. The age of modern sports 26
- 3. RECREATION IN THE USA 29
3.1. Sports at colleges 30
3.1.1. College and sport 30
3.1.2. Sport and money 31
3.1.3. Women’s Collegiate Sport 32
3.1.4. Intramural and club sports 32
3.2. Animals in sport 32
3.3. Unusual sports 33
3.4. Camps 33
Nowadays a lot of people are getting more and more ambitious and now the always hurry somewhere, they are eager to do everything and are afraid of losing any minute that can bring them happiness, joy, glory or just money. But if they want to get that all, they’d better have wonderful mood all the time, perfect health, steel nerves and strong will. At present sport is the very thing that can help any person either keep fit or reach all his aims.
In my course paper I’m going to investigate almost all kinds of sport that can be popular famous in the USA, both professional and amateur ones.
There probably are countries where the people are as crazy about sports as they are in America, but I doubt that there is any place where the meaning and design of the country is so evident in its games. In many odd ways, America is its sports. The free market is an analog of on-the-field competition, apparently wild and woolly yet contained by rules, dependent on the individual’s initiative within a corporate (team) structure, at once open and governed.
Sport plays a major role in American society as it accounts for the most popular form of recreation. Many Americans are involved in sports — either as a participant or as a spectator. Amateur sports distinguish between recreational and competitive sports. Favorite recreational activities include hiking, walking, boating, hunting, and fishing. All of these are liked for the recreational value as well as for exercise. But there are also many other sports activities in America which attract millions of participants for personal enjoyment, the love of competition and for the benefits of fitness and health. In addition, sport teaches social values like teamwork, sportsmanship, self-discipline, and persistence that are highly regarded in U.S. society.
So the main tasks of my course paper are to learn how sport influences on health and culture of the Americans, to find out all problems and prosperities of American sport and to figure out how many people of various classes, ages, nationalities and races, which live in the USA, are involved in playing games.
The first chapter of this course paper contains the information that shows us the stages of gradual development of American sport, beginning from Puritans' times till our days. Different kinds of problems and prosperities that very often can appear in sport are also discussed here. In the second chapter any can find the information about great variety of sports that are played and watched on TV through the whole USA. Here I also give some data about participating women and the disabled in contests and competitions. The third chapter tells us about sport as about the main sourse for recreation.
So the whole course paper is dedicated to the sport in the USA, its development and influence on American life.
1. SPORT AND ITS DEVELOPMENT IN THE USA
1.1. Historical background, names of national sports, borrowed games
Whatever else sports may mean or be, their present-day prosperity represents a repudiation of the hostility toward games and enjoyment codified in the law books of the first settlers. The colonies' early rulers, north and south, were dedicated to rooting out play and enforcing the discipline of hard work as a moral value in itself and as a frontier necessity. The Puritans' war against sports may be traced to their equation of work with prayer and their belief that divine election was accompanied by an easy rejection of idleness; as members of England’s rising middle class, the Puritans also had a social bias against the traditional amusements of the aristocracy. Today’s fascination with the moral significance of winning, with the accompanying neglect of the play element in sports, may be an atavistic survival of this Puritan outlook--although the win-at-any-cost ethic is no less in evidence in countries with no Puritan heritage. Then again, the sheer number of seventeenth century laws against sports must also mean that games were very popular in colonial. America.
Throughout the colonies the old English sports like wrestling and footraces seem to have been present, although cockfighting and horse racing were not permitted in New England. Sledding and ice skating were also popular where the climate permitted; ice skating remained one form of physical exercise allowed women when the mores of the Victorian era later began to exclude them from sport.
The nineteenth-century class revolution that changed the rank of gentleman from one of ascription to achievement had a pernicious effect on participation in sports. An eighteenth-century gentleman (or lady) could hardly have lost his status by anything short of a major crime, but the kind of gentility that was the goal of social climbing in the second quar-ter of the nineteenth century was as easily lost as gained, particularly by women. The determination of the new middle classes to separate themselves from the vulgar meant avoiding anything that had the appearance of physical work, which was enough to rule out strenuous play.
It is not true that there was no American participation in sports during the 1840s and 1850s; these were the years when a primitive form of baseball was evolving. However, these decades were more notable for the rise of spectator sports--early evidence of tastes that would eventually be satisfied by the television sports broadcasts of today. The most popular spectator sport was horse racing, and whole sections, sometimes the whole country, followed rivalries between famous stable owners.
Sailing regattas were another way social leaders could exhibit themselves before the masses in a pastime whose expense insured its exclusivity. There were professional races staged by gamblers for cash purses, but most were sponsored by elite rowing and sailing clubs. The first America’s Cup race in 1851, and the intense interest it aroused, gave the rich an opportunity to hold themselves up as defenders of national pride in an arena none but they could afford to enter.
As the nineteenth century progressed, sports seemed to evolve along two diverging paths. On the one hand, sports suitable for general participation tended to be monopolized by elite groups who excluded the working class and immigrants. On the other hand, sports with an in-eradicable working class (and hence professional) character tended to be taken over by commercial interests and run as money-making enterprises. Track exemplifies the first tendency, baseball the second.
Professional track and field, or «pedestrianism,» was one of the most popular sports of the nineteenth century, both as recreation and spectacle. Before the Civil War races tended to be promoted by gamblers and often pitted English champions against American favorites; the races were commonly held at horse race tracks or on city streets. In 1844 some thirty thousand spectators watched the American runner John Gilder-sleeve beat the Englishman John Barlow in a ten mile run for $ 1,000 at a Hoboken race track. Forty thousand watched the rematch, which Barlow won with a time of 54: 21.
After the Civil War track was particularly popular as an opportunity for wagering, with the competitors often handicapped with weights or staggered starts to ensure parity. Amusement parks sponsored weekend track meets on an elimination basis with the winners receiving cash awards or readily pawnable trophies. Marathons and long distance races were also popular.
Probably the most important sponsors of track and field sports in the nineteenth century were the ethnic organizations with their annual «picnics"--mass athletic meets allowing amateurs and professionals to compete separately and against each other. The Caledonian Games of New York City were the earliest; during the 1880s there were also Irish and German picnics. Picnics were also hosted by military regiments, labor unions, colleges, and wealthy athletic associations like the New York Athletic Club and the Schuylkill Navy Club of Philadelphia.
In the 1870s the «gentlemen» began to complain about having to compete against lower class professionals at track meets. The solution to this genteel dilemma was the doctrine of amateurism, which made it possible for the well-born to win more than an occasional race and, incidentally, made athletics respectable since social contact with workmen was infra dig. In 1888 today’s ruling amateur sports organization, the Amateur Athletic Union, was formed, which by strictly enforcing the rules of amateurism effectively banished working-class participation from track and field. Not until the 1970s would these rules be relaxed enough to allow athletes without private means of support to compete.
The professional champions of the «pedestrian» era set records that still astound. In 1885 a professional runner set a mile record of 4: 12. 4, a mark no amateur could match until 1915. The most amazing professional track record was set by the outstanding pedestrian Richard Perry Williams, who ran a carefully authenticated 9 second 100 yard dash on June 2, 1906. It took nearly seventy years for an amateur to equal that achievement.
As track evolved into an upper-class preserve, baseball grew from similar beginnings into the earliest, and still the most complete, form of popular sports culture [3,p. 207−209].
In 1911, the American writer Ambrose Bierce defined Monday as «in Christian countries, the day after the baseball game». Times have changed and countries, too. In the U.S. of today, football is the most popular spectator sport. Baseball is now in second place among the sports people most like to watch. In Japan, it is the most popular. Both baseball and football are, of course, American developments of sports played in England. But baseball does not come from cricket, as many people think. Baseball comes from baseball. As early as 1700, an English churchman in Kent complained of baseball being played on Sundays. And illustrations of the time make it clear that this baseball was the baseball now called «the American game». Baseball is still very popular in the USA as an informal, neighborhood sport. More than one American remembers the time when she or he hit a baseball through a neighbor’s window.
Baseball and football have the reputation of being «typically American» team sports. This is ironic because the two most popular participant sports in the world today are indeed American in origin-basketball and volleyball. The first basketball game was played in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1891. It was invented at a YMCA there as a game that would fill the empty period between the football season (autumn) and the baseball season (spring and summer). Volleyball was also first played in Massachusetts, and also at a YMCA, this one in Holyoke, in 1895. During the First and Second World Wars, American soldiers took volleyball with them overseas and helped to make it popular. Today, of course, both basketball and volleyball are played everywhere by men and women of all ages. They are especially popular as school sports [1, p. 138−139].
1.2. Problems and prospects of American sport
The single largest problem in the conduct of American sports is the obsession with winning that is found at almost all levels of competition. Already at age twelve or thirteen youngsters are often exposed to grueling training regiments. Sometimes dirty tactics are even introduced at this age by coaches who are too eager to win. In some cases parents who appear to be living out fantasies of success in sports through their children contribute to the tremendous pressure of sporting competition at an early age. Baseball for children ages 9−12, called Little League baseball, and its football counterpart have often been criticized for their premature stress on winning at all cost. Football, with its violent contact, would appear to be a particularly dangerous game for youngsters whose bone structure has not fully developed. Competition at an early age is not bad in itself as long as a healthy spirit of fun and recreation is maintained.
Another trend in contemporary American sports partly related to the obsession with winning is over specialization. While this over specialization helps to produce the remarkable feats of modem gymnasts, basketball players, and others, it nevertheless discourages some from trying out a wide variety of sports.
A particularly American phenomenon connected with sport is what might be called the cult of the coach. All sorts of legends and romantic tales have grown up around certain well-known coaches, and some-times their coaching philosophy has entered folk wisdom. It may be that this cult of the coach is made possible partly by the fact that Americans are accustomed to having strong managers in the world of business. In any event, sports in the US are typically closely controlled and managed by their coaches, perhaps more so than in other parts of the world. This is reflected in the numerous timeouts and other stoppages of play characteristic of American football, basketball, and baseball. The increase in the number of timeouts that has come about in recent years in professional sport is of course also designed to allow more time for advertisements. At the amateur level, too many interruptions for coaching instruction may even have the result of discouraging individual initiative, something many Americans prize above all.
If American sport has certain problems, it also has many positive features. Perhaps the greatest achievement of American sport is that over the years it has attracted more and more people of all types and backgrounds. Participation by minorities and women is constantly increasing. There are certain sports, such as football and basketball, where black athletes now dominate. As in the rest of society, all problems associated with race relations are far from having been solved. For example, minorities are greatly under represented in the man-agement of American sport. And, many private clubs, particularly golf clubs, continue to discriminate against minorities. Nevertheless, other areas of society would do well to match the example of sport in making opportunities for minority participation available.
Another positive feature of modern sport and physical culture in the US is that people are constantly inventing new sports and games and reshaping old ones to suit their needs and desires. At the same time, as people become better educated about physical fitness, they are more willing to try new recreational physical activity later in life. Progress in technology has also helped the spread of certain sports. Artificial snow-making devices are used at virtually all ski resorts throughout the country and have made possible skiing as far south as Georgia. Air conditioning and refrigeration have made it possible to construct skating rinks in all parts of the country so that figure skating and hockey are now found in Florida and California, where there are now both amateur and professional hockey teams.
How will sport in the US develop in the future? There should be increased opportunity for diverse groups of people to participate in an ever wider range of sporting activities. Sports such as golf and tennis, which have not been known for widespread minority participation, will probably experience a gradual increase in the number of blacks and other minorities. Sport has traditionally been one of the most visible paths of advancement for minorities and newly arrived immigrants in the US. Perhaps, however, in the future expectations about prospects for raising one’s standard of living through spoil will become more realistic as people begin to understand that professional athletes comprise only a tiny fraction of the population.
On the other hand, watching professional sports will become more and more an activity for the social elite as costs and ticket prices increase. Although professional sport in the US has defied ups and downs in the economy, eventually it may be forced to take on a more modest profile. If that ever happens, teams may adopt new structures, such as community rather than corporate (business) ownership. In the short run, however, it seems that professional sport will only become more and more expensive.
Eventually the American spirit of innovation may reach the schools and infuse their physical education programs with the imagination they are sometimes lacking. The phenomenon of women playing on otherwise all male teams has existed for some time and could become more common in future. For the most part, however, women’s sport will continue to grow on its own. Because they are such dynamic social phenomena, sport and physical culture in the US will not simply continue to reflect trends in the wider society but will sometimes lead the way on the path toward change [5, p. 2−5].
From this chapter we’ve learned that sports in North America go back to the Native Americans, who played forms of lacrosse and field hockey. During colonial times, early Dutch settlers bowled on New York City’s Bowling Green, still a small park in southern Manhattan. However, organized sports competitions and local participatory sports on a substantial scale go back only to the late 19th century. Schools and colleges began to encourage athletics as part of a balanced program emphasizing physical as well as mental vigor, and churches began to loosen strictures against leisure and physical pleasures. As work became more mechanized, more clerical, and less physical during the late 19th century, Americans became concerned with diet and exercise. With sedentary urban activities replacing rural life, Americans used sports and outdoor relaxation to balance lives that had become hurried and confined. Biking, tennis, and golf became popular for those who could afford them, while sandlot baseball and an early version of basketball became popular city activities. At the end of the 20th century, Americans were taking part in individual sports of all kinds--jogging, bicycling, swimming, skiing, rock climbing, playing tennis, as well as more unusual sports such as bungee jumping, hang gliding, and wind surfing.
During the whole history of the USA sport there was developing more and more. It attracted and even now attracts great numbers of the Americans of different ages, sexes and nationalities. As we can see, sport helps to prevent American teenagers from different pernicious habits and actions, to involve them in social work. Thanks to sport many people don’t suffer from various illneses and deseases. But althouth all that sounds so pleasant and encouraging, American sport has its disadvantages. Almoust all Americans believe that the impossible is possible. So they always try to reach the top by all means and very often it leads to irretrievable consequences that may change the life not only of one person but the whole country.
2. HE VARIETY OF AMERICAN SPORTS
2.1. Professional sport
2.1.1. The business of Sport
Professional sports in the US comprise one of the largest business enterprises in the country. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent every year on everything from tickets to television contracts and players' salaries. The most popular team sports are football, basketball, and baseball. In recent years hockey has been increasing in popularity and some believe that if the National Hockey League (NHL) can rid itself of unnecessary fighting it will begin to challenge the other three in terms of spectator interest. The other great world team sport, soccer, has had a difficult time in gaining a foothold. After a brief burst of success in the 1970s, professional soccer in the US has assumed a minor status in relation to the other major sports.
Golf and tennis are the most popular individual professional sports. Businesses that aspire to national and international recognition are willing to spend tens of millions of dollars per year on sponsoring golf and tennis in order to have their names associated with these sports. It should be pointed out that only a few players at the top are able to achieve real wealth and fame and that many of the lesser players struggle hard to make ends meet.
Boxing is a sport that has become increasingly controversial over the years as its dangers have become more and more apparent. It is particularly disturbing to see one of the sport’s greatest personalities, former heavy weight champion Muhammad Ali, struggle with the brain damage he has suffered from taking too many blows to the head. Nevertheless, the attraction of the sport appears to be irresistible to some, and efforts to make boxing safer or even to eliminate it altogether, have proven fruitless.
Although the sports mentioned above receive the most attention from the news media, other sports such as car racing and horse racing are tremendously popular in the US. Motor sports are a whole world of their own. They include racing on oval tracks, both by stock cars, that is, cars driven on highways, and special Indy cars (named for the famous Indianapolis Speedway), sports car competitions, and quarter mile sprints called drag races. In addition, there is all sorts of racing for motor cycles over dirt tracks, paved tracks, and obstacle courses with jumps. Just as in other sports, fans have their favorite drivers in motor sports who sometimes take on the status of folk heroes. The race car driver Richard Petty, who has recently retired is a good example of this.
Most people are not aware that the sport with the largest number of spectators in the US is horse racing. This is largely because it is possible to gamble on horse races and there are so many different racing fixtures throughout the country. Other sports which are based on betting are harness racing, greyhound dog racing, and jai alai. Jai alai, pronounced «hi li,» is a fast moving game from the Basque country of Spain that involves throwing a ball with a special basket called a cesta against a wall.
One particularly American, and also Canadian, form of sport is the rodeo. Calf roping, bronco riding, and bull riding are just some of the best known rodeo events. As you might expect, rodeos are most popular in the western states and the western provinces of Canada. The Calgary Stampede, held every year in the Canadian city of Calgary, Alberta, is the world’s most famous rodeo.
There are also several sports that are out of the main stream but nevertheless have numerous followers. These include roller derby, in which roller skaters try to push each other off of a track, and professional wrestling, which features pre-rehearsed moves and a lot of primitive play acting. Many feel that these two are not really legitimate sports and call them, together with events such as racing cars through the mud, «junk sports. «[2, p. 305−307]
2.1.2. Major sports
The roots of the national pastime, or «game» (never the national «sport»), may certainly be traced to the English children’s game of rounders --which was also known as early as 1744 by the name of «baseball,» despite A. G. Spalding’s effort in 1908 to concoct a myth of purely American origins. Under the name of «town ball» the game was popular throughout the colonies, and absorbed enough of students' time for it to be banned at Princeton in 1787. There was a Rochester Baseball Club in 1820s, and the elder Oliver Wendell Holmes said that he had played the game at Harvard in 1829.
Until the Civil War there were really two distinctly different variants of the game. Throughout New England there was the «Boston» game, while the rest of the country played the «New York» game. The critical difference was that the Boston game permitted a base runner to be retired by throwing the ball at him, a practice called «soaking» the runner.
The first baseball clubs of the 1840s and early 1850s were gentlemanly in membership and decorum. Games between status-conscious clubs like the New York Knickerbockers and Brooklyn Excelsiors were friendly preludes to formal dinners with musical entertainment furnished by the host club. These social teams were soon displaced by workingmen’s clubs, with memberships drawn from labor organizations, from city government services (the police or the sanitation departments), or sponsored by political machines as part of their election strategy. The most successful and longest-lived teams tended to be ones with political support. Political parties could provide government sinecures for the players, allocations for building enclosed stadiums, and permission to play Sunday ball. The popularity of Sunday ball (and the ownership of many teams in the American Association bv brewers) made the game a prime target for militant Protestant reformers. The battle over Sunday baseball was one of the most lively survivals of the Sabbatarian movement into the latter part of the century.
The less violent character of the New York game (no «soaking») made it more appropriate for play in urban centers between teams that had neighborly reasons for restraining their killer instincts. In 1858 the National Association of Baseball Clubs was formed with a nucleus of sixteen New York area teams. In 1868 Cincinnati organized the first semi-professional team; it was there also that the first unashamedly professional team was born in 1869, today’s Cincinnati Reds.
Full-fledged professional teams first appeared in the Midwest, founded by local boosters eager to publicize their city and to demonstrate its vitality. The Cincinnati Red Stockings of 1869 were financed by the sale of stock in the team corporation; likewise the Chicago White Sox in 1870. In 1870 the National Association of Amateur Baseball Players tried to expel the Cincinnati and Chicago professionals, and soon afterwards, in March 1871, the professional clubs met and established the National Association of Professional Baseball Players [6, p. 2−4].
Organized baseball as we know it today dates from a secret meeting of the owners of the investor-owned teams in 1876. The National Association had been torn by discord between corporately owned teams like the White Sox and the Reds, and poorer teams that were essentially player-run cooperatives. The owners of the richer teams were determined to rationalize the business and to combat the public perception of professional ballplayers as willing accomplices of gamblers in betting coups (known then as «hippodroming»). Led by baseball’s first robber baron, William Hulbert of the Chicago White Sox, the owners decided to declare war on the player-owned cooperative clubs. The owners specifically restricted membership in their new National League to clubs that had clarified the role of players as employees. This league, which was the nucleus of today’s major leagues, began with clubs in Philadelphia, Hartford, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, and New York. It had to struggle against rival leagues for the next thirty-nine years, vanquishing some (the Players' League and the Federal League) and merging with others (the American Association in 1891 and the Western, later American, League in 1903).
The first few years of the new league were precarious ones, with cutthroat competition between the National League and its rivals. On September 29, 1879, the National League owners met and decided on the strategy that eventually was their salvation, the reserve clause, a contract provision that gave a player’s club the right to «reserve» his services for the next season. In effect it transformed a yearly contract into a lifetime indenture. Until 1883 only the top five players on each team were protected by the reserve clause, but these were precisely the players whose salaries were the greatest burden to the owners. As the clubs reserved more and more players, finally covering the entire roster, the players found that their salaries were declining and their working conditions worsening, and so in 1885 John Montgomery Ward, a standout shortstop for the Giants and later a lawyer, organized the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players.
Still not satisfied, the owners drew up a player classification system in 1888 to stabilize and reduce salaries according to a standardized evaluation of a player’s relative ability (something like today’s free agent compensation pool). Ward was in Egypt on baseball’s famous round-the-world tour when he found out about this. He immediately abandoned the tour and, together with most of the other National League stars, declared war on the owners by organizing their own «Players' League.» Ward managed to enlist the support of almost all the star players and most of the sporting press, and he and the ball players spent the winter of 1889−90 promoting the new league in union halls, saloons, and wherever fans could be found.
The 1890 season was really a war between the National League, led by A. G. Spalding, and Ward’s Players' League. At the end of the season the Players' League had surpassed the National League in attendance, but the total attendance had been spread too thin for anybody to make much money. The players also made some grievous mistakes. They spurned an appeal to join the American Federation of Labor and they refused to play Sunday ball, which was clearly suicidal. Worst of all, they placed too much power in the hands of their financial backers, relying on the investors to be fair to their ballplayer partners.
At the end of the season all the Players' League teams had shown a profit, while most of the National League teams were on the verge of bankruptcy. It seemed as though the players had won. But when the National League offered to meet with representatives of the American Association (a rival league organized on the usual investor-controlled basis) and a committee representing the Players' League capitalists, the money men met and sold the players out. They merged the three leagues in a way that left the investors firmly in control. This merger resulted (after dropping some weaker teams) in a twelve-team alignment: Baltimore, Washington, Cleveland, and Louisville (all of which eventually folded); Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis. In 1892, with the National League’s monopoly once again secure, the most hated features of the reserve clause were reinstated and salaries again were slashed. The players had lost all control over their game, and they would not regain it until the reserve clause was finally thrown out in 1975. This clause, although grossly unfair to the players, undoubtedly contributed to the growing popularity of the game by ensuring the stability of the team rosters and by casting the players in roles with which blue collar fans could identify.
The 1890s also saw another development that probably helped ensure the popularity of baseball. That was the enforcement of Jim Crow, which turned every major league baseball game into a ritual demonstration that America was a white man’s country. During the 1890s blacks had to organize their own teams, and eventually a two-league system emerged, with a Negro National League in 1920, and a Negro Eastern League in 1921, both of which collapsed during the early Depression. A second Negro National League appeared in the late 1930s, and a Negro Ameri-can League in 1936. Both leagues died in 1952 when black stars in large numbers began to be signed to major and minor league contracts after Jackie Robinson’s pioneering year with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
The National League’s 1903 merger with the Western (American) League created a structure of two eight-team leagues and a World Series (also dating from 1903). This arrangement remained intact until 1953, when the Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee.
The years after World War I saw baseball mature into America’s premier sports culture with a full array of mythic underpinnings: an immaculate conception (the Cooperstown legend of Abner Doubleday’s invention of the game), a myth of the fall (the fixed 1919 World Series), an Odysseus (Ту Cobb), an Achilles (Babe Ruth), a Zeus (Judge Landis), an aristocracy (the Yankees), and a rabble (the Dodgers). More than any other American sport, baseball lends itself to legend. The statistical records give each game a mythic dimension as the hits, runs, errors, and strikeouts are melded into the record books. The mythic power of the game, however, also takes its toll, as even on the lowest level parents and coaches try to ride the miniature exploits of their midget performers into the realm of sports fantasy [3, p. 209−210].
The evolution of basketball exhibits a more complicated mixture of elite uplift and ethnic aspiration. Basketball started as part of the nineteenth-century crusade to Americanize (or Christianize) the immigrants; it was quickly taken over by those targets for genteel uplift as a way ethnics could express their national pride and compete with other immigrants.
Basketball was invented in 1891 at the YMCA’s leadership training institute in Springfield, Massachusetts. One of the physical instructors at the institute, James Naismith, developed rules for what he called «A New Sport»: tossing a soccer ball into a backboardless peach basket. Naismith evidently intended that the ball be moved only by passing, but players soon discovered other ways to advance the ball without carrying it. At first they juggled the ball overhead (volleyball style) as they ran, but when juggling was outlawed the superior technique of dribbling was developed by players in the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association Leagues. Other early improvements included the removal of the bottom from the peach basket, fastening the basket to a backboard, and for a time surrounding the court with wire fencing to keep the ball in play (hence the term «cagers» for basketball players).
The «New Sport» became particularly popular at YMCAs and settle-ment houses in immigrant neighborhoods in the large cities. In New York the University Settlement House fielded championship teams, and by the 1930s there were Jewish Recreational Council Tri-State Championships, Lithuanian National Championships, Polish Roman Catholic Championships, a National Federation of Russian Orthodox Clubs, Catholic Youth Organization leagues, B’nai B’rith leagues, and countless other ethnically based leagues and teams.
The first professional teams were also ethnic, and had names like the Detroit Pulaskis, the Brooklyn Visitations (Irish), the Newark Turnverein, the Original Celtics (largely Jewish and based in New York City), the Harlem Renaissance, the Hebrew All-Stars, and the Buffalo Germans. The ethnic professional teams were succeeded by industrial teams sponsored by factories as part of employee relations programs. This was particularly common among the rubber companies in the Akron, Ohio, area. Industrial teams were the nucleus of the National Basketball League (NBL) when it was organized in 1937. In 1946 the Basketball Association of America (BAA) was organized by the owners of large arenas in major cities; only arena owners were permitted to enter teams. The NBL and the BAA competed until 1949, when the National Basketball Association (NBA) was formed by combining teams from the two leagues) [3, p. 212−213].
The evolution of basketball technique and strategy occurred as innovative players overcame the resistance of a conservative coaching establishment. During basketball’s first forty years coaches taught the two-handed set shot that turned basketball into an intricate pattern of weaves and passes designed to produce two and three man picks (human walls between the shooter and the defender) to give a player a chance to attempt this easily blocked shot. In 1937 Hank Luisetti of Stanford University scandalized the coaching fraternity by breaking all scoring records with a one-handed jump shot. Orthodox coaches labeled Luisetti a freak, an exception to the rule, but the more farsighted of them realized that the jump shot was impossible to defend against and that the old patterned play game was obsolete.
Another example of a plausible theory refuted by practice was the coaches' belief that big men were too clumsy to play basketball, despite the obvious advantage of their height. Professional basketball today displays several marked characteristics; the most obvious is the appearance of bigger and bigger men at all positions who possess, in addition to extraordinary size and strength, the quickness and ball handling agility that once seemed the special province of «smaller» players (i.e., shorter than six feet six inches) [11, p. 97−98].
Football is unarguably today’s preeminent spectator sport; televised professional football is arguably the preeminent spectacle of any kind in today’s American culture. In some parts of the country high school football is the only religion with no dissenters, and in some areas the state university football team is the community’s common bond and proudest boast.
Football is for most Americans their tribal game, and it has always appealed to their herd instinct. The game can be traced back to the annual autumn free-for-all battles between the new freshmen and sophomores at Harvard in the 1820s. A combination of the free-for-all, soccer, and rugby survived at Harvard until 1874, when the school played two football games against McGill University of Canada. In the first game Harvard’s own peculiar rules were used; the second game followed the rules of McGill’s fairly orthodox version of British rugby. The Harvard students decided that the Canadian game was more enjoyable, so they voted to play according to those rules thereafter.
It was at Yale that the game of rugby developed into a game closely resembling today’s football. The man behind this evolution was Walter Camp, who played football at Yale from 1875 until 1882, when he began training the team, eventually becoming head coach. During the Camp era Yale established a winning record the likes of which has never been seen again. From 1872 until 1909 Yale won 324 games, lost 17, and tied 18, and from 1890 to 1893 Yale outscored its opponents 1265 to 0! Walter Camp changed rugby into football when he replaced the scrum with a pass from the line of scrimmage. Camp was also responsible for the down-yardage system; he introduced American style below-the-waist tackling, and initiated the annual selection of an All-American team.
Almost from the outset American college football was a supremely effective means for binding students, alumni, and community into a cohesive whole. The intensity of alumni and community identification with the football team fostered a win-at-any cost ethic and placed tre-mendous pressure on coaches to field winning teams. All this made a sham of amateurism and of the pretense that football was a normal part of student life like panty-raiding, fraternity hazing, or cheating on exams.
The ferocious drive to win, the primitive state of the rules, and the rudimentary quality of protective equipment led to an unconscionable number of serious injuries at the turn of the century, although the exaggerated and colorful reporting of the period makes unreliable the often quoted statistics on the number of gouged eyes, fractured skulls, and broken limbs. The public’s perception of football as a brutal upper-class reversion to barbarianism by robber-barons-to-be was, however, strong enough for Theodore Roosevelt to convene his famous White House Conference on football in 1905, which was attended by representatives of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Legend to the contrary, Roosevelt had no intention of abolishing college football; in any case he certainly had no legal nor actual power to do so. Had it come down to a test of strength between football and the president it would have been interesting to see who would have prevailed--or would prevail today.
In 1910 the rules were amended, supposedly to reduce violence, but really to provide a better spectacle for spectators by evening the balance between offense and defense and «opening up» the game. The flying wedge was outlawed, the pass rules were liberalized, and the number of chances a team was given to make ten yards before surrendering the ball was increased from three to four. These were the rules that Knute Rockne used at Notre Dame to build the greatest football dynasty since the old Yale teams of the nineteenth century, managing also to transform the epithet «fighting Irish» from an ethnic slur to a badge of pride.
The first professional football players were really semi pros, who played more for fun than the pocket money they got by splitting the ticket take. Before 1920 the most famous professional was the Olympic champion Jim Thorpe; Gus Dorais and Knute Rockne of Notre Dame were also pros of that era. In 1920 the American Football Association (AFA) was founded; two years later it was succeeded by the National Football League (NFL), comprised for the most part of teams from small towns in Ohio. It was the great Illinois tailback Red Grange whose publicity changed the professional game from the poor stepchild of the college game into a growth industry on its way to becoming the multimillion dollar business of the 1960s. In 1930 the superiority of the professional game was demonstrated when the New York Giants beat Notre Dame in a charity exhibition game. In 1936 the college «draft» system was established, the final step in persuading the public to reverse its perception of college football’s relationship to the program, and to see the universities as minor leagues preparing players for the pro ranks.
Professional football’s symbiosis with television began in 1952 when the NFL established its blackout rule for home games. In 1960 Pete Rozelle became the commissioner of the NFL, and under his astute leadership the game achieved a level of popularity that made it America’s favorite spectator sport. In 1966 the NFL merged with its new rival, the American Football League (AFL), allowing Rozelle to designate the championship game between the two formerly separate leagues as the «Super Bowl,» which immediately became America’s premier sports spectacle[3, p. 214−215].
There was not always a clear distinction between amateur and professional bowlers, especially since amateurs are allowed to collect prize money. Most acknowledged professionals were instructors, but there were a few who toured the country, giving exhibitions or playing matches for money.
Three professionals were pretty well known to the public. Andy Varipapa, a colorful trick shot artist, spent thirty years entertaining crowds throughout North America. He also won two consecutive BPAA All-Star tournaments, in 1946 and 1947.
Floretta McCutcheon was the sport’s leading woman ambassador from 1927 through 1939, giving thousands of clinics, lessons, and exhibitions.
Best known of all was Ned Day, who not only toured but also did a very popular series of movie shorts during the 1940s. Millions of people saw the films in theaters and, later, in television reruns. Day retired in 1958, the very year the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) was founded. Under the leadership of Eddie Elias, the PBA set out to establish a regular tour of sponsored tournaments similar to the Professional Golf Association tour.
For several years, there were only three or four tournaments on the PBA tour, but the number grew rapidly during the 1960s, mainly because of television. To fit tournaments into TV time slots, Elias created the «stepladder» format that’s still used in almost all PBA events.
Competitors first roll a series of qualifying games, with the top five finishers advancing into the stepladder round. The fifth- and fourth-place qualifiers bowl a match, with the winner advancing to bowl against the third-place qualifier. And so it goes up the stepladder, until the survivor meets the first-place qualifier in the final match.
The Professional Women’s Bowling Association was founded in 1960 to establish a similar tour. It wasn’t particularly successful, so a group of players left to form the Ladies' Professional Bowlers Association in 1974. The two merged again in 1978, forming the Women’s Professional Bowlers Association, which became the Ladies Professional Bowlers Tour in 1981.
As in golf, the women’s tour isn’t nearly as lucrative as the men’s, largely because of the lack of television coverage. The PBA tour boasts about 40 tournaments, many of which award $ 40,000 or more for first place. The LPBT tour offers only about 15 tournaments and first place money is usually less than $ 20,000.
There are four major men’s tournaments, the BPAA U. S. Open, the PBA National Championship, the Tournament of Champions, and the ABC Masters. Women have three majors, the BPAA U. S. Women’s Open, the Sam’s Town Invitational, and the WIBC Queens. A fourth major tournament, the WPBA National Championship, was discontinued after 1980[16, www. hickoksports. com/history…].
2.1.3. Problems in professional sport
One of the most frequent complaints leveled against professional sports these days is that the news about them often concerns various disputes between players and management, court cases, and other legal proceedings more than it does what takes place in the games athletes play" and spectators watch. Part of this comes from the fact that people have been slow to recognize that professional sport really is a business and that people make their living engaging it. In addition, the world of professional sport, as the rest of society, is more complex than it was in the past.
Another familiar complaint, not without some justification, is that professional athletes in the most popular sports such as baseball, basketball, and football are paid more money than they could possibly be worth. For example, as of this writing the average major league baseball player’s salary is just under the incredible sum of one million dollars per year! No wonder people complain. Yet, when a star player demands more money from his or her team, it is often the fans and the press who take the side of the athlete.
One of the most unfortunate results of the currently inflated price of tickets to professional sports events such as baseball is that they are now accessible only to the most well off. This is a sad break with the past tradition of having a sizable number of inexpensive tickets available to all segments of society. Over time sport in the US has become more open to all classes and ethnic groups. Recent moves by professional sports management to cater more and more to an elite clientele through such means as special luxury viewing areas (called sky boxes) at stadiums and arenas are an unwelcome departure from the mostly democratic development of American sport.
Only the most naive observers and spectators of American professional sport now believe that it exists in a realm that is separate from other social concerns. Sport is also related to politics. It has become a practice for politicians to associate themselves with championship teams. For example, the president usually phones congratulations to the winners of baseball’s World Series; presidents have hosted the National Basketball Association (NBA) champions at the White House.
The attraction of major league professional sport is so great that there are keen competitions among cities for franchises. It is widely accepted by politicians, the public, and the press that having a major league team in their city or region is good not only for the local economy but also for the prestige of the area and even the morale of the population. Professional franchises often exploit this desire of localities to have a major league team by demanding and receiving extremely favorable terms for the use of public stadiums. When teams do not get what they want from local government, they often begin to play one city off against another and sometimes move to an area that offers a better deal.
Sport also has an international political dimension. After the Soviet Union joined the Olympic movement in 1952, the US and the USSR engaged in a long, hard-fought battle, especially at the Olympic Games, for overall supremacy in sport [2, p. 307−308].
2.1.4. Olympic Games and the names of American heroesПоказатьСвернуть