Sports have undergone many changes in the past, but none compared with the 19th century. The early days of sports began as a form of recreation and social gathering. It had become commonplace to get together and compete in sporting events by the Greeks long ago. There were different reasons for competition including dominance, victory, and honor. Early competitions had no rules or governing body controlling the events. It was assumed that competition may result in death of one or both of the opponents.
This evolved into a more recreational activity later and became more of a method for entertainment as social views on violence emerged. It was still a very violent and unregulated method of entertainment which raised controversy with the church and tended to separate the classes. Sports in the 19th century demanded change and this call was answered when fraternity organizations got together to institute rules and organization. The idea of an organized sports community became very popular in the 19th century.
Today it may seem odd to think that there were no rules in a sporting event, but the organizations in place today were a novel concept back then. Sports evolved from mere informal entertainment to highly organized events. Essentially, sports became big business. Formal rules were instituted at all levels of the sport. There were regulations on types of ball, playing field, player interaction, and spectator intervention. Promotional companies hired scouts to find the better players and insure that teams were able to compete at he same and hopefully higher levels than expected.
The sports industry became a social status which brought with it fame and fortune for both players and management. Sports records were also being kept for the first time, so it was possible to follow a players performance. Sports magazines became popular methods of transferring information between players, owner! s, and the spectators. Sports became popular to the rich for obvious economic reasons, but all economics have a bad side and sports soon showed its ugly side. Along with the good change in sports came a bad change.
Since the players were typically younger men who concentrated on pushing their physical abilities beyond that of the average man, it could only stand to reason that they would require higher levels of relaxation to return to the normal level. This resulted in a sub-culture surrounding sports which included drinking, gambling, swearing, sexual activity, and a general loss of self-control. In essence, a new breed of man had emerged which only sought to better his own ability at the expense of society.
Instead of curbing this appetite, the sports ndustry tended to overlook the social shortcomings and focus on the bigger economic gains to be realized by a players performance. Sports serve a good purpose in society and help to provide entertainment for the spectators. This aspect can’t be overlooked when judging the sports industry because something will always take its place it it is removed. It is much better to allow people the luxury of making their own choices and hold them responsible within the legal limits. Our job as spectators is to maintain a good role model for this industry and allow it to consume our society.