In some cases the different classes had different roles within the sport, for example in hunting the upper class would take part in the actual hunt and the lower class would organise the dogs and tend to the animals. Bare knuckle boxing Bare knuckle boxing was a popular sport that has heavily influenced modern day boxing. Like many pre industrial past times bare knuckle boxing was simple with very primitive methods, had very few rules and was violent which reflected the harsh eighteenth century rural life.
It was one of few sports in which upper and lower classes were involved. Some members of the gentry sponsored a lower class fighter and they became their patron. The patron would arrange the contest, put up a stake or wager money and give board and lodging to the performer. The fighters were usually from very poor background and this gave them a chance to earn money fame and status. The patron however did this for prestige and popularity.
Modern day boxing is similar in many ways to bare knuckle boxing; there are accepted rules such as not striking a downed opponent, In 1853 London prize fighting ring rules were introduced which stated that fights had to take place in a 24 feet square ring, if the fighter was knocked down he had thirty seconds to rise to his feet and biting, head butting and hitting below the belt were declared fouls. These rules are still in place today but the fundamental difference is boxing gloves and mouth guards for safety and head guards for amateur boxers Lawn tennis Lawn tennis is a variation of the modern game today that is known as tennis.
Lawn tennis originated in Britain and was a combination of the game rackets and the Spanish ball game peolta. It was developed and played exclusively by the upper class and had a clear set of rules and etiquette. It wasn’t accessible by the lower classes as they had neither the money nor equipment to become involved. It was created in the mid 19th century just at the start of the industrial revolution. The rules of tennis have been kept largely similar to modern day tennis although like many other past times the equipment has changed as materials became more readily available for inventors to modernise the game.
The original rackets were wooden and prone to breakages were as now the rackets are made of carbon-fibre and are lightweight. Mob football Mob football was a mediaeval form of what is now known as association football which emerged in Europe during the middle Ages. Mob football was very simple with no rules and huge number of players, and any means could be used to move the ball to a goal, as long as it did not lead to manslaughter or murder. These early games of football were forerunners of modern codes of football such as rugby football and association football.
The origins of the game is not clear but by the Middle Ages these games had generally become annual celebrations and had a tendency to become quite rowdy. Mob football would have more resembled a riot than any of its descendants. The sport usually involved groups of men from two connecting villages (or two groups from either end of a single village) fighting to move a ball from one side to the other. The game was associated with the lower classes and frowned upon by upper classes and more so by royalty.
A number of monarchs prohibited the sport as it's lack of rules did not accurately reflect Christian life. Each town or village would have played a slightly different game with rules that were not written down. The events were held on public holidays such as Shrove Tuesday when men would have been given the day off work. The sport can still be witnessed in some parts of the United Kingdom, notably Ashbourne where the annual Shrovetide football game attracts people from all around the world. Cruel sports
In the 18th century life was tough for peasants and their past times echoed this. Bear baiting, dog fighting and cock fighting were just some of the cruel, violent past times that took place in pre- industrial Britain. Many of these past times took place in the inn’s yard as it was a one of the only ways to socialise as there were very few methods of communication. They were a place for locals to do business, socialize and were a stopping station for coaches. The landlords provided equipment and set up a number of games to boost customer and profit.
Many sporting clubs used the pubs as there base and this is still evident today with pubs having pool, darts and football teams. Pubs helped the development and spread of sports around Britain. Religion has been a key factor in the development of sport in Britain. The reformation caused the creation of two new types of Christian religion, Protestantism and Puritanism as well as the original Roman Catholics but after the break away from Rome, the catholic way of life disappeared from Britain.
As a result of the English reformation Puritans emerged and they were fiercely against excess, unruliness and drinking associated with contempory recreations. This was a bleak time for recreation in Britain but this only lasted for a short time and Protestantism became prominent and leisure was restored but only for work purposes. The military has also influenced modern day sport and past times. Combat skills such as archery and fencing were originally functional and used in battle but over time these became recreational and with the development of guns, lost their functions.
They remain relatively unchanged and archery is an Olympic event and professional sport. Are there illegal activities still continuing? Bare knuckle boxing is now illegal and has been for many years but there is still an underground movement and also many cruel sports such as bear-baiting , dog fighting and cock fighting still unfortunately take place. It was banned in the UK in 1835 but is still present in many less developed countries in the world particularly Latin America. Conclusion
Popular recreation in pre-industrial Britain has greatly influenced modern sport as the origins are evident in many sports such as mob football becoming association football and bare knuckle boxing becoming boxing. The popular past times were generally basic with few rules with the exception of lawn tennis and cricket which were developed by the upper class and these led to many variations such as mob football developing into rugby and rugby in turn forming rugby union and rugby league. Without these pre industrial past times many of the modern sports would not have been developed.