Athletics and the American Way:. Creating “Proper” Men and Women in the Industrial Era. History is Central—May 19,2007. Today’s Tentative Agenda. Give a quick overview of the period and some ways to conceptualize it.
Creating “Proper” Men and Women in the Industrial Era
Historyis Central—May 19,2007
1) Can overwhelm students with narrative of “Massive Changes”
2) This is the creation of the world they know—the “massive changes” don’t seem radical
Three ways to do this (at least)
1) Primary sources related to traditional ways of telling the story
--images of tenement houses
--Hull House Maps
2) Get better grasp of traditional narratives
--More anecdotes in your arsenal
--Local history: Getting beyond textbook
--Use fiction to help tell story (Upton Sinclair’s The Flivver King)
--From Stephen Hardy’s How Boston Played
“Simplified, [the argument] suggests that as cities grew in size, population, and density, their inhabitants felt a longing for the outdoor life and recreational pastimes that were being swallowed up by the stultifying regime of the machine age.”
“Just as things appeared bleakest, however, urban economic, technological, and demographic conditions formed the foundation for an arena of new leisure forms, adapted to the pace and lifestyle of American cities.”
--How are they different?
--What are their purposes?
--Why are they located in specific places?
Early Central Park Map
--Especially (hopefully) the working class
Then Playgrounds represented urban political pressure
Kasson writes that the White City was intended to be the “Embodiment of public order, cultural unity, and civic virtue, and animating vision of American cultural achievement for an age of disorder, strife, and vulgarity.” (18)
The Midway was something completely different . . . It was the inspiration for Coney Island.
Reginald Marsh, “Embodiment of public order, cultural unity, and civic virtue, and animating vision of American cultural achievement for an age of disorder, strife, and vulgarity.” (18) George C. Tilyou’s Steeplechase Park (1936)Marsh—“made the eroticism of Coney Island explicit in a way that the photographer could not. . . Delight[ing] most in the fleshy character of the scene” (94)
Three reasons to focus on school sports:
The basic narrative:
Based on Oxbridge model
--so crew was first real intercollegiate sport
--Harvard-Yale, 1852 (Harvard won)
By 1859, had a mini-conference time later)
--Yale devoted more resources, trying to show that was a peer to the more prestigious Harvard (this pattern repeated)
--as many as 15,000 spectators at races
Baseball was next intercollegiate sport time later)
--1859—first game, connected to a regatta
--led to controversies over amateurism
--students earning money on the side as pros
--again, tried to improve schools’ and national reputation by competing against Oxford and Cambridge
-- Suggested marking lines on field (gridiron)
“I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid triumph.”
“The timid man, the lazy man, the man who distrusts his country, the over-civilized man, who has lost the great fighting, masterful virtues, the ignorant man, and the man of dull mind . . . All these, of course, shrink from seeing the nation undertake its new duties; shrink from seeing us build a navy and an army adequate to our needs . . . These are the men who fear the strenuous life, who fear the only national life which is really worth living.”
Basketball, however, was another story.
Dudley Sargent’s “Are Athletics Making Girls Masculine?” Ladies Home Journal (March 1912).
1900– University of Nebraska
--Played a different game in a different gymnasium (court below = before 1938)
--See “Women’s Basketball” Primary Source
Early 1920s, a national movement, led by women, shut down almost all women’s competitive school and collegiate athletic programs.
--Was a reaction to contemporary developments in men’s and women’s intercollegiate athletics AND in women’s industrial athletics.
--Wanted Controlled Athletics for Women:
“Speaking bluntly, one of the most precious qualities of girls’ characters is endangered. . . . Games like basketball and baseball are combative sports. They develop ugly muscles—muscles ugly in girls—as well as scowling faces and the competitive spirit. As an inevitable consequence your girls may find it more difficult to attract the most worthy fathers for their children.”
“It is usually when they are exceeding their powers that women appear unlovely. When a woman sets her jaw in grim determination to win at any cost, or plays so long that lines of fatigue draw her face into contortions, and she loses control of her coordinations, then she sacrifices some of her beauty because she is violating principles of health. . . That look of ghastly strain, that awkwardness and lack of equilibrium and that breathlessness should not be chalked against the sport itself but must be prevented.”
Maryville College (TN)
“It is impossible to legislate out of a person the instinctive urge to compete.”