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Tuesday 10 – Sports

Sports with ties to or origins in Victoriana

There are lots of sports I could list here. With the advent of more leisure time, there was more time for the playing and watching of sports. Canoeing, rowing, running, hockey, all of it gathered momentum during the mid-to-later half of the 19th century. Here are 10 of those.

1. Baseball – Let’s forget the history of it, it’s too hard to track down. (And hey, Jane Austen made a reference to children playing “base-ball” on a village green in Northanger Abbey, written between 1798 and 1803, published 1818.) In 1845, Alexander Cartwright of New York City led the codification of an early list of rules (the so-called Knickerbocker Rules), from which today’s have evolved. 19th Century Baseball

2. American Football – There are pads and helmets and braces! American Football, it is often said, is for wimps. I’ve seen Rugby, and that’s for crazy people. Walter Camp, player and coach at Yale University set down some rules in 1879. Read all about him and the significant rule changes from rugby and soccer.

3. Rugby – It’s convoluted, it’s mystifying…1838-39, 1841-42, 1845…here, just read it yourself, the site does a lot better explaining it than I could. Rugby

4. Football or Soccer – In America, it was a mishmash of changing rules until 1862 when Oneidas of Boston became the first organized soccer club in America. Princeton and Rutgers Universities engaged in the first intercollegiate soccer match November 6, 1876 (Rutgers won). The American Football Association was organized in 1884 in Newark, NJ, to maintain uniformity in the interpretation of rules and provide an orderly and stable growth. Elsewhere, though having been played for centuries in several similar incarnations, it wasn’t until 1848 and The Cambridge Rules that evolved into subsequent codes, including Association football.

5. Curling – I love Curling – it’s one of the few WInter Olympic Sports I watch all the games to. When I visited Scotland, I saw the so-called first boulder they used. And I have no idea how they did anything with that but hurt themselves. The first Curling club was founded in Kinross, Loch Leven in 1668. The first national association was the Grand Caledonian Curling Club (founded in 1838). In 1843, the club got the privilege to be the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. This Club was the World Federation, till 1966, when the ICF (International Curling Federation) was founded.

6. Tennis –In December 1873, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield designed a game for the amusement of his guests at a garden party on his estate Nantclwyd, in Llanelidan, Wales. It was based on indoor, or real, tennis. Wingfield borrowed both the name and much of the French vocabulary of real tennis. The first championships at Wimbledon, in London were played in 1877.

7. CroquetJohn Jaques II introduced croquet into England at the Great Exhibition in 1851. His display attracted such wide attention that the game speedily became the vogue, in Europe and throughout the British Empire.

8. Basketball – James Naismith, a Canadian physical education instructor, invented this sport in 1891. Here are the original 13 rules. Thirteen! I wonder how many there are now.

9. Roller Skating – Introduced in 1863, it was quickly made fashionable by the elite of New York City. Special skating dresses, allowing more freedom of movement, became popular by the 1870’s. The popularity of roller skating waned by the 1890’s, but like ice skating it helped lead to more freedom in dress and behavior for women.

10. Olympic Games – in Ancient times, it was last celebrated in 393AD, only to be revived by Evangelos Zappas in 1870 and 1875. The International Olympic Committeewas founded in 1894, and their first games were the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. (The First Olympics: Athens 1896. Great movie, probably not that historically accurate, but great movie!)

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5 Comments

  1. Jenn says:

    Speaking of curling, I was recently amazed to discover this passage in a series of letters written in 1847:

    “There is also capital curling here but the stones are all made of iron as the frost is so hard that sone would crack and they are a great deal heavier than what we have in Scotland.”

    First of all, I’m amazed my Canadian ancestors thought this was a good use of iron. Wouldn’t it have been rather, I don’t know, difficult to make and therefore expensive? Secondly, I knew it got cold but I never imagined it could crack a curling rock! And third, I’ve played curling a couple of times, and I can’t imagine a HEAVIER rock!!

    Great post. It just goes to show that the industrial revolution really did give people more time on their hands. Why else would so many games be invented/perfected in this time?

  2. Nicole McCaffrey says:

    Great post! I don’t follow sports, don’t know much about them, but I still found it really interesting, and learned a thing or two besides!

  3. Alice says:

    Curling is a great game and uses muscles on the inside of your thights like you’ve never used them before. I think it’s that sideways shuffle down the ice while sweeping.
    I’ve never heard of iron rocks before but I once read a story about a curling game, played outdoors on the prairies where the game was tight and the temperature went so low they couldn’t keep the frost off the ice. Then a chinook came through and the ice melted down the mud, before a snowstorm hit… You get the picture. I read the story a long time ago and have looked for it since but without success. Anyone else ever heard of it?

    Alice Valdal
    http://www.alicevaldal.com

  4. Denise Eagan says:

    I was wondering about the roller skating. It must have been outside right? Or did they have rinks? I think of the roads as dirt. I wonder when concrete etc came into use.

    Don’t you love it, Christine, when a post starts more questions than answers?

    Alice, I wish I could help you. I know nothing about curling. Hmmmm. Maybe I should use it in a book somewhere. . . .

  5. Christine Koehler says:

    Dee, I believe they used maple as a flooring. Let me see if I can find it. Ok, I found the site I used (victorianstation.com) but the site’s not coming up. Typical. It was maple but I don’t remember if it was inside or out. However, roller skating was instrumental in changing women’s fashions and freedom.

    I hadn’t heard about iron rocks, iron in the cold, hmmm. It’s a ridiculous sport, but I love it anyway. 🙂

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