American Sports Research Paper


The sport has become an inevitable part of American society over the XIX century. Even the most respected and honored paper, The New York Times, dedicates most of the time to the sports topic, rather than to business, art, education, theater, etc. People from all walks of life have been continually into the sport and have spent most of their time on it. Various types of the sport brought attention to every social level. It implies that both the top society (elite), along with middle-class, was taking parts in physical activities. In other words, American sport arose with the upsurge of pastime and the liberalization of moral considerations.

Unfortunately, social segmentation has existed over decades, and the range of events in American sport led to the division of various aspects and levels. Though sports unite individuals from all levels of social classes, there was still a gap in gender, race, and sectionalism in the XIX century. Admittedly, it has led to various changes in the state-of-the-art American sport. Hence, it is crucial to go through data and events to reveal more details about the preferences among social classes, and the modernized sports.

Historical Context

Improvements in communication and transportation, combined with the growth of cities, played critical roles in the explosion of American sports.[1] Urban dwellers could easily gather and play games or even watch sports’ news, unlike people in the countryside. Simply put, urban settings was the head start for inhabitants to use their leisure time for practicing sports and compensate impersonality back then. By the end of 1860, people started using steamboats for racing in the Mississippi River. Due to captain’s self-confidence and boasting, most of the steamboats had gotten overheated, which led to unfavorable consequences, killing passengers and crew alike.1 Soon railroads replaced steamboats. They carried people to different races. The expansion of the railway network led to the appearance of National League, and other major league teams, which traveled by trains until the 1950s.

Vigorous improvements in communication and transportation resulted in sporting revolution. People used watches for scheduling matches and advertising accurate time of games, telegraphs, and newspapers for promoting and encouraging everybody to participate or watch sports, sporting sheets and papers for broadening the sporting market and covering entertainment news. Consequently, the sporting revolution was at its peak and most of Americans were engaged in various types of sport. Ironically, all these transformations and innovations were implemented primarily by middle-class men. They urged upon the nation a new moral discipline, a regimen particularly antithetical to the commercial sport.1 Other classes started labeling them “Victorians.” 

Nevertheless, some people organized Victorian counterculture since they did not want to follow the Victorian self-restraint and punctuality. According to “new working class” culture, a female had to have a sedentary way of life at home while male had to do hard work and have leisure time practicing physical activities. Unlike them, Victorian counterculture liberalized these restrictions so that female found an opportunity to participate in some kinds of sports. Additionally, counter-partners (cf. Sporting Fraternity) created new ways of sports based on rough activities. The fraternity drew its membership from within the larger Victorian demimonde – hedonists in the upper class, workingmen, ethics, bachelors, and those, like saloonkeepers, who sought to profit from the Victorian underworld.1

Ultimately, the increased interest in sports resulted in leisure time and the set of discipline, beliefs, and rules during the century. Working and middle-class men have tried to dominate in American community by providing a wide range of own perspectives and preferences regarding sports and gender in physical activities. Further, one can see the difference in sports in XIX century and how these specific types of the entertainment have influenced Americans and made society as it is today.

Popular sports in XIX century


In 1842 and 1843, a group of young men – clerks, merchants, brokers, professionals, and assorted “gentlemen” – began playing a bat-and-ball game at the corner of 27th Street and 4th Avenue in Manhattan.[2] A few years later, they formed a baseball club Knickerbockers. It was the first baseball team following current rules. Alongside, there were Knickerbockers Rules, which became a part of the contemporary League. For instance, one of the vital rules forbad soaking or plugging the runner. According to the previous regulations, a fielder had the right put a runner out by hitting him/her with the moving ball referring to as a kickball today. Additionally, The Knickerbocker Rules demanded the fielders to tag or force the runner (what happens today) and prevented numerous debates and fistfights, which occurred in the old practice.

Baseball did not become a national game right away. In fact, it took a while time to admit it eventually. Before the Civil War, cricket seemed to get more attention from the press, unlike baseball. However, for true American men, no nineteenth-century sport exceeded baseball in popularity.2 Against parents’ wishes, preadolescents and young men started practicing baseball everywhere. At the end of the century, William A. Hulbert organized the National League. Though it failed to perform efficiently, Hulbert managed to change it to the best and enhance its functioning. Lastly, baseball today is the number one game in America.


Though cricket was the first modern American sports team, there is a little bulk of evidence on its prevalence and popularity in the XIX century. After the Civil War, baseball emerged as the national pastime, while cricket survived mainly as an amusement of the nineteenth century Philadelphia elite.[3] With the help of New York’s news and periodicals, the clubs could organize all-star, international matches. Homegrown and foreign, young and old, white collar and craftsman, affluent and middle class, all participated.3 They played to relieve themselves from exhaustion and working days, and just exercise their bodies.

Cricket took the leading role in the USA, primarily in Philadelphia. There was an overwhelming number of dwellers to participate in the local and global arena. However, there were a lot of Europe AND English migrants taking part in cricket as well. Basically, Englishmen controlled New York cricket, primarily because British merchants and professionals had founded its leading clubs and had not exerted themselves in recruiting many Americans.3 At that time, Philadelphia was full of English people, who presented cricket to residents. They first introduced their game to the upper class, and later – to working class.

Cricket has evolved over the years, and become more modernized today. The field placements were limited, a ball was only colored in red, and bats were lighter and shorter (around 10.8 cm). Today, it is becoming more flexible: field positions are unconventional, a ball is black and white (though they consider making it pink), and bats become more massive and longer (96.5 cm). Admittedly, it is logical why rules are changing, because the world and the perceptions of sports are transforming. Yet, it does not imply that cricket is not a well-played game in the contemporary world.

Horse racing

Race kept the leading role in the sport in the 1780-1860s. No sport served the needs of New York City’s parvenu sportsmen for conspicuous display more effectively than thoroughbred horse racing.[4] Horse racing involved people from all social classes and races. However, religious evangelist complained about gambling dimension referring to being ‘too aristocratic’ as the only elite class could own the best competitive horses, unlike others. The elite had superiority there since they could not withstand Victorian hegemony and their counterparts. This contest and its ambiance signaled a transformation in the institution of American sport.

Despite its wealthy patronage, thoroughbred racing continued to operate outside of, or at best, on the fringes of Victorian respectability.4 American Jockey Club was the center of horse racing, and it was the crucial place for building new tracks, replacing the dash for long-distance rides, reducing corruption. One of the symbols of horse racing was South-North race between Sir Henry and American Eclipse (cf. The Great Match Race).[5] It was the first amusing sports spectacle in America, which changed the range of historic events in 1850. Since then, horse racing has been among the top favorite sports among Americans. Today, horse racing takes the second place after baseball in the American community. Simply put, horse racing had its golden age, and it became one of the most common sports in the XIX century. 


The ultimate expression of fancy was prizefighting, which became a national obsession in the second half of XIX century.[6] Americans received the insight from British men by reading about British championship in XVIII century. It was eye-catching for American society. British and Irish professionals were invited to teach sparring lessons to the upper class. By the end of the 1850s, prizefighting became one of the most popular sports in the USA. Besides, prizefighting played on ethnic divisions, especially between American-born and Irish-born workers.6 They both lost their statutes and autonomy in work; they had diversity in religious beliefs; thus, prizefighters created symbolic contents for honor and supremacy.

Boxing played a critical role in the Civil War among soldiers, who found it logically to fight and apply boxing techniques. Precisely, the soldiers frequently turned to baseball, running, wrestling, shooting matches, and boxing.6 Unfortunately, it was suppressed by legal authorities, but most of the natives did not give up. The press started promoting the value of boxing, and people became more engaged in practicing it. As a result, the upper class opened athletic clubs in New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco.4 Formed the New York Athletic Club implemented rules about fixed rounds, invited professionals for sparring lessons, and scheduled national boxing championships.

Nevertheless, boxing has altered over the years. A boxer should have fought only with bare fists. There was no gentleman’s agreement, points, or fixed rules as today. In other words, it was just one standing; it was way too cruel than UFC and boxing now. Fighters could do anything with their hands (cf. pugilism – bare-knuckle boxing). Today boxers can officially use gloves, and it is not as brutal as before. Additionally, modern boxing players fight till fixed rounds with the availability of ten-second knockouts, unlike the old practice.


Ethical considerations, Victorian culture, their counterculture movements, the upper class’s clubs, and superiority are the real examples of the American sports’ evolution. British or Irish people portrayed most of the activities; thus Americans could implement games in a better way. Due to these premises, there was ethnic tension and division between them, but it did not prevent any of them to give up physical activities over decades.

Moreover, the bulk of evidence and review of literature give the insight of male’s prevalence in sports. Possibly women were not free during the arising era of Victorians, who promoted home-style, but modern women movements have liberalized female to be more involved in sports. Ultimately, this topic needs detailed considerations. 

American sport has played a significant role in the world, and it is no question why sports are continually changing and getting close attention from people of all walks of life. Indeed, the elite primarily governed and expanded the opportunities for sports, but still – people from poverty to wealth discover new types of sporting lifestyle.

[1] Grundy and Rader, “The Setting for Nineteenth-Century Sports,” 19-21, 25

[2] Grundy and Rader, “The Rise of America’s National Game,” 45, 55

[3] Kirsch, “American Cricket: Players and Clubs Before the Civil War,” 29, 36

[4] Grundy and Rader, “Elite Sports,” 61, 64

[5] Struna, “The North-South Races: American Thoroughbred Racing in Transition, 1823-1850,” 32-33

[6] Grundy and Rader, “The Sporting Fraternity and Its Spectacles,” 36-39


Grundy, P. & Rader, B.G. “Elite Sports.” In American Sports (7th ed.), 57-68. London: Routledge, 2016.

Grundy, P. & Rader, B.G. “The Rise of America’s National Game.” In American Sports (7th ed.), 44-55. London: Routledge, 2016.

Grundy, P. & Rader, B.G. “The Setting for Nineteenth-Century Sports.” In American Sports (7th ed.), 17-30. London: Routledge, 2016.

Grundy, P. & Rader, B.G. “The Sporting Fraternity and Its Spectacles.” In American Sports (7th ed.), 31-43. London: Routledge, 2016.

Kirsch, G.B. “American Cricket: Players and Clubs Before the Civil War.” Journal of Sport History, Vol. 11, No. 1 (1984): 28-50.

Struna, N.L. “The North-South Races: American Thoroughbred Racing in Transition, 1823-1850.” Journal of Sport History, Vol. 8, No. 2 (1981): 28-57.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: February 4, 2023]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: February 4, 2023] (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: February 4, 2023]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: February 4, 2023]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: February 4, 2023]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: February 4, 2023]

"The terms offer and acceptance.", 17 May 2016

[Accessed: February 4, 2023]
Haven't found the right essay?
Get an expert to write you the one you need!

Professional writers and researchers


Sources and citation are provided


3 hour delivery