Sport and recreation in the United States — страница 6

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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] Major sports Baseball 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