History 44

Week 6

Sports and Leisure.


*24 February 1998

Summary Outline

*introduction: relation of sports/leisure to earlier topics: masculinity, professionalism, suburbs.
I. Leisure , Mass Culture, and Consumerism
A. Working Class leisure (based on Kasson Amusing the Millions with notes from Roy Rosenzweig, 12 Hours for what You Will,
B. Working Class Women (Peiss, Cheap Amusements )
C. Addams Spirit of Youth) discussed with refernce to middle class (Progressives) attitudes as described in Gorman, Paul R.,"Healthy recreation versus "exploiting pleasure" in the progressive era, "in Left intellectuals & popular culture in twentieth-century (1996) [Binder.Secondary]
D. Consumerism
1. general theory of rise of (Lears, No Place of Grace)
2. middle class women and consumerism (1) dept stores; and (shoplifting)
II. Movies (based on May Screening Out the Past)
III. Sports
A. Interpreting Sports and the "new Sports History"
B. Baseball (discussion of Gelber article)
C. Football

Detailed Notes


1. As with professionalism and suburbanization this topic requires careful definition of what is specific to the progressive era, since the developments are rooted in the earlier period, and continue on to our own day. The rise of mass culture begins in the 1880s, but takes specific new forms during the progressive era, the movies in particular. Likewise, baseball (1860s) and football (1880s) predated the progressive era but are transformed between mid-1890s and 1920 in various ways.
2. The topics to be considered look back to earlier themes in the course (a) changing definitions of gender as America "modernizes" and the cult of masculinity [Dubbert] ; (b) the role of the ":market" in shaping perceptions [Wilson, Labor of Words and Schudsen]) and forward to (c) "social control," and various questions connected with women, immigration, and labor. The aim today is to see the ways the study of popular culture and sports can enrich an understanding of history in general.
3. on the surface, sports and new forms of leisure also seem to run counter to themes of rationalization, organization, and efficiency embodied in professionalization. Are they related? This relates to the larger paradox that the progressive era was one of growing rationalization, bureaucratization and professionalization of every aspect of life, but also of cult of masculinity, strenuosity, militarism (Dreiser, London and naturalists; TR and "Big Stick" Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan ]; and to the larger issue (discussed last week) of the interpretation of the age as one of (a) rationalization and a quest for efficiency and (b) moralism, emotionalism, nostalgia rooted in status anxieties.
 I. Leisure the Rise of "Mass Culture" (general) (questions raised in Kasson Amusing the Millions, Peiss, Cheap Amusements, and Addams, Spirit of Youth and other such works as Rosenzweig, Eight Hours for What We Will,
A. Leisure and Working Class history.
* Kasson, (Amusing )
1.Amusement Parks (Kasson, Amusing) how changed from 1880s through progressive era . Cf. in Worcester? (Rosenzweig?) and New York (Peiss).
a. Coney Island
Dates of major "parks" at Coney Island: Sea Lion (1895), Steeple Chase (1897), Luna (1902, on site of Sea Lion), and Dreamland (ca. 1908)
a. how did Coney differ from genteel" culture of Central Park? Columbia exposition? Significance of "Midway" at Columbian Exposition
b. what social consequences? deference? "disaster" "technology as spectacle? etc.
C. how does Coney Island compare with current ones: Disney World, Great Adventure etc. Can one say that these parks change or cause new social behavior? or simply reflect it?
2. saloons?
questions: (a) what is its value? its social function? what is the "great era" of the saloon" culture? what is happening after 1900? (b) what is role of saloon in creating masculinity (Rozenzweig p. 63). Different consequences of the rise of saloon culture for men and women? c. consequences for "labor solidarity" "radical protest? (d) in what ways has "saloon" culture changed since the progressive era: college student takeover in 1950s? singles bars?
 3. Holidays? what different functions do 4th of July observances serve for different ethnic groups? social classes? implications of his argument for current "diversity" debates? Examples of changing functions of other holidays: Christmas/New Year; Halloween?
B. Working class women?
1. approach of Peiss, Working Class Amusements. what does she think she is adding? what difference does it make to look at role of working class women? (see more on her p.o.v. in comparison with Jane Addams below).
* Questions:
1. what is the social construction of gender? do you believe gender is "constructed" in significantly different ways in different period?
2. what is "homosocial culture" "heterosocial"? example of each? when/why did one give way to the other.
3. what is relation of working class and middle class? how is middle class culture transformed by the developments Peiss describes?
4. what happens to "cheap amusements" during the later part of the progressive era? were the often draconian "controls" imposed by the middle class effective? Did they make any difference at all.
5. what is the overall affect of the commercialization of culture: does it promote "Americanization" "individualism"? the decline of ethnicity?
C. Addams, Spirit of Youth chs. 1, 4
*discussion of the ways Addams supports the analysis of the two modern historians, as well as how her perspective is ultimately quite different/ Discussion of the issue of whether Addams was a bluestocking prude, as some later said. Or should we rethink our image of progressive era women reformers..
1. what is the "new" situation she sees? what dates? Note especially:
--commercialization of leisure
--vast numbers in new cities
--higher wages\(all pp. 4-6)
2. new forms of amusement. What does she identify? would they have been the same in 1890 when Hull House was started.
--dance halls
--clothing (p. 8)
vaudeville (p. 17)
nickelodeon (p. 19)
--street music (p. 19). ("The street music has quite broken away from all control")
--movies (as below)
3. social consequences
--tensions within family : the "good" brother (pp. 9-10)
--fear children will steal : so father gives them movie money (p. 91) [cf. argument of Christopher Lasch, Haven in a Heartless World]
4. does Jane Addams recognize social class? how does she describe it? role of "respectability" in defining social lines? (cf. Rosenzweig on same issue).
--"nice" girl's at dance halls
--"loutish tenement house youth"
--one working class culture?: a "more primitive code of morality"
5. Addams's preconceptions (as clue to middle class mentality in general).
--young girls no longer "prized" for their innocence
--village green nostalgia
--Freud? sex susceptibility? cf. Peiss on heterosociability: is Addams saying the same thing/)
--hierarchical culture: "in the direction of" (p. 82)
--role of science? Adams and "experts" (see pp 92-93)
6. holidays. p. 100 : "Labor Day processions are really becoming more carefully planned and more picturesque"? would Rosenzweig agree? do they judge this development the same?
7. on ethnicity and whether commercialization of culture destroys (see Addams pp. 100-101).
D. Consumerism
*general impact of consumerism?
1. general theory of rise of (Lears, No Place of Grace; not assigned )
2. middle class women and consumerism (1) dept. stores; and (shoplifting)

II. Movies
*the following are some general questions suggested in reading of Addams
1.what are social effects as seen by Addams (new standards, p. 75, individualism: master of his fate" p. 75; a s social club p. 86), Cf. Rosenzweig, and Peiss?
2. what is unique about movies among popular entertainments?
3. changing patterns of in-theater behavior and it significance (see Addams p. 86: cf. Peiss)
4. what is Addams model of "public" entertainment? did things work out that way? (note ancient Greece as a model).
General Question: (to be discussed at some point: does popular entertainment really shape a society in any significant way? when all is said and done do not these changing forms of entertainment merely "mirror" changes caused by other factors?

 III. Sports: Football and Baseball
*definition. What are "sports" See Gutmann: "Sports are only one kind of contest. Contests are only one kind of game. Games are only one kind of play, and play is only one kind of pastime." Why does our culture transform noncompetitive games into contests (ultimate frisbee?) What is importance of concept of "fair play"
**sports and progressive era: 1. Both baseball and football often presented by historians as epitomizing rationalization, bureaucratization (e.g. Gelber on baseball, Westby/Sack on football). 2. Yet also often pictured--and were seen by many contemporaries, as return to nature and more primitive forces, e.g. baseball as "pastoral" (Guttmann thesis); and "Football is to physical culture what the bullfight is to agriculture"--Thorstein Veblen.
*** discussion will focus on this contradiction, with arguments of Guttman, Reiss, Gelber, et al.
**** Theories of Sports and the New Sports History (based on Riess, "New Sports History" and Guttmann, A Whole New Ballgame. Both Guttman and Riess divide sports history into three approaches, which seem roughly parallel although not quite the same.
Note: relate to historiography of progressive era. Seems generally to parallel in that two stress "modernization" (Weberian and industrial capitalism); and third (represented by Riess himself) seems a closer to Hofstadter in stressing ways "myths" functioned to cushion and shape the reaction to urbanization/industrialization, along appears also a compromise with 'search for order" E.g re baseball Riess shows how these older values expressed through baseball 'myths": "the agrarian/rural myth, the myth of social integration, and the myth of social democracy.
A Weberian . Nature of "modern sports (from Gutmann, A Whole New Ball Game
*Riess, p. 311-12. "These Weberians state that modern port has qualities that differentiate it from the sport of earlier eras" Then lists as noted below
1. sacred to secular
2. equality of entry
3. specialization
4. rationalization
5. bureaucratization
6. quantification
7. records.
* how these are interrelated. See pp. 54-55 Whole New.
2. Marxian
3. neo-Marxian
C. Baseball
D. Football
+presents the primitive-modern issue in even starker contrast that baseball.
A. Developed out of ancient medieval football., and ultimate soccer.
B. Interpretations
1. American football is characteristically "American" (see Reisman and Denny argument).
2. "social control" especially pacification of college campus.
3. Westby/Sack. Football and industrial capitalism.
4. Guttman, Whole New Ballgame.
D. Basketball
* the prototypical modern sport in that it had no ancient roots. Also progressive era since invented 1891.
1. Roots in desire to "christianize" young men., and also muscular Christianity.
2. But like baseball was transformed by class as it became the archetypal "city game"
1. Jews dominate into the 1930s.
2. transformation in the 1950s due to various factors.
3. African-Americans since then.
E. Boxing (entirely from Riess summary in "New Sports History"
1. stages of sport (as covered in Gorn, The Manly Art (1986)
a. Irish and English origins becomes popular among "subterranean working class"
b. post-Civil War decline
c. revival by "gentleman amateurs" in 1880s
d. professional promotion and charismatic champion John L. Sullivan.
2. Interpretations?
1. Gorn sees as validating working class, preindustrial values, and thus providing focus for urban working class counterculture
2. biographies seem to validate:
a. Isenberg, Sullivan and His America (1988) sees as archetypal shanty Irish who represented "action over thought, victory over compromise, and deed over character."
b. Randy Roberts, Papa Jack (1983) sees Jack Johnson as "bad" black who embodies all fears of whites and becomes hero to poor African-Americans
 Written by Robert Bannister, for classroom use in History 44, Swarthmore College. May be reproduced in whole or part for educational purposes, but not copied or distributed for profit.