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The Features Of 19th Century Sports

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Until the 1800s, being a sportsman meant something completely foreign to today’s spectator festivals. Mostly, it meant dressing up in jackets or vests and finding your dinner, or as we would call it hunting. But starting with sports games in the 19th century the sporting culture became something more closely related to what we know now, players would sometimes get paid to show up, drinks, and other payments were given commonly and sports generally became something thought of as for the people instead of just the upper class. That meant sports went from barons and brandy to batsmen and beer, but it also meant putting on an event became a much more complicated proposition and took a lot more time.

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Bare knuckle boxing was one of the first spectator sports to be created, with professional fights staged much earlier than the 19th century, But increased immensely which meant that a bigger pool of fighters was available in the 1800s, as well as a bigger pool of fans that brought them more money. This in turn led to multiple anti boxing laws that were meant to decrease illegal gambling, new rules implemented like having to wear gloves and having round limits kept people from getting their heads damaged and brought a show of respect to the sport. Before that, championship fights like one in February 1882 where John Sullivan knocked out a fighter named Paddy Ryan at a place that had been moved at the last minute to keep away from the cops, were common. Ironically, it would be police sponsored boxing leagues and not police evaders like Sullivan, who would later become famous for refusing to fight Jack Johnson on the grounds of his skin color, that went on to save the sport from corruption in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. it was the Police that were eventually chosen to officially list the world’s heavyweight champion.

In 1889, Kentucky Derby “bookies” insisted that the new gambling machines installed at Churchill Downs would cut into their business and expressed that they be removed. In addition to taking away the possibility of odds and payouts, the bookies’ outspoken complaints and made certain that if any aristocrats wanted to bet on their Uncle Cornelius they had to degrade or devalue themselves by engaging in things with the vulgar classes. Not only did this mean that different horses would have different odds at different bookmakers, it also meant you had to rely on a possibly untrustworthy character for your payouts. As a general rule people with beady eyes named Knuckles should not be trusted with your money at all.

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The Features Of 19th Century Sports. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 2, 2022, from
“The Features Of 19th Century Sports.” Edubirdie, 24 Feb. 2022,
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