Lewis H. Siegelbaum and Sasu Siegelbaum
The history of sport can be considered an arena in which struggles over ways of doing things have worked themselves out, sometimes to the advantage of one class but occasionally to the benefit—or detriment—of more than one class. Sport has its antitheses—amateur versus professional, competitive versus noncompetitive, the individual versus the team—each of which contains class dimensions. In this chapter, players, fans, owners, governing bodies, and the media are treated as representatives, projections, or embodiments of classes and class fractions, struggling amongst themselves and occasionally against each other. The chapter emphasizes the formative influence of Great Britain and its class structure from the Industrial Revolution onward on the emergence of specific sports, the codification of rules, leagues, and fan bases. It analyzes the complex and sometimes contradictory nature of players as workers, their representation, and the particular dynamics between class and fan affinities.
This chapter considers three main aspects of sport and industrialization. First, it challenges the conventional wisdom that the British Industrial Revolution was the catalyst for the development of modern sport in Britain and that subsequently Britain’s industrialization led to the cultural export of sport to the rest of the world. In doing so it critiques Guttmann’s theory of modernization in sport; unravels the various influences of industrialization, urbanization, and commercialization; and notes several different models of sport development that emerged around the world. Second, it examines the economic history of sport becoming an industry itself, looking at equipment manufacture, gate-money spectator sport, the role of the professional player, and the various objectives of the entrepreneurs involved. Finally, it considers sport in the industrial workplace, particularly the motives of employers who provided sports facilities for their workers. It emphasizes that sport was often offered to both male and female employees.