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date: 23 January 2022

Abstract and Keywords

The early modern, however defined, is a “sporting” period whose formal-structural characteristics and the extent of its continuity with modern sport are both still often debated. This chapter argues that it played a much more important role than is often recognized in the development of modern sports. Even though sport could sometimes be morally, religiously, and politically problematic, “sporting” material could then be found in a wide range of sources, from recreational guidebooks, manuals, and personal papers to fiction and newspapers. Such material was often linked to the lives of royal courts and the “better sort” rather than the common people, about whom, like women’s involvement, we know less. The more widespread development of rules was encouraged by their association with betting practices. The period also saw new sports lifestyles, better playing skills, new forms of associativity and institutionalization, slowly growing standardization, and the slow emergence of professionalism.

Keywords: early modern, sport, characteristics, associativity, professionalization, betting

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