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The Rise of Professional Sports

In: Historical Events

Submitted By dsc2532
Words 493
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The Rise of Professional Sports
5 November 2015

Sports became a professional phenomenon during the Gilded Age of America, which consisted of a period of unprecedented success for Americans in regard to wealth and long-term business enterprises. During the Gilded Age period, the country was consumed by the belief that every man had an opportunity to become wealthy, and those who were wealthy actually were able to spend their leisure time consumed with spending this wealth on lavish pursuits. ("Why Sports History Is American History | The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History," n.d.) It was during this era that the rise of professional sports began to emerge as a way for the wealthy to entertain themselves during their leisure time. It was also during this time that immigrants were coming into the country in the millions, and the use of sports was an opportunity for these recent newcomers to become “Americanized” wherein the use of sports was an avenue to identify with their new country. This became an important way for these immigrants to mark their progress within the American society. Coupled with the political machines of that time, sports became a way to elicit support from large groups of people that were in support of specific geographic areas wherein the politicians who used sports for leisure also saw the importance of using them to garner support from immigrants. These were seen as community building institutions, and they are still used as this function wherein the use of sports to rally entire populations has been effective. Professional sports were aligned with the rise of the immigrant community wherein they were used to help define American identity on the grassroots level as powerfully as our political system, our broadcast media, or Hollywood film. The rise of professional sports in essence, gave immigrants as well as the regular citizen an ability to connect with the nation’s lived traditions and cultural values.
According to, “Baseball quickly became the national pastime as it adapted from a gentleman's game to a form of mass entertainment”. So many embraced the game of baseball that sixteen clubs established the sport's first governing body (the National Association of Base Ball Leagues) a year later after its introduction. ("Sports and Leisure []," n.d.)
Other spectator/collegiate sports such as football and boxing brought about a heavy influence of big business during this era. With the opportunity of sponsorships, ticket sales, gambling bets and team ownership all created a environment of “sports maniacs” and a forever culture of capitalist ventures.

Digital History. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Sports and Leisure []. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Why Sports History Is American History | The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. (n.d.). Retrieved from *…...

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