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Changes in the American Sports Landscapes in the Second Half of the 19th Century

The second half of the 19th century saw a fundamental transformation of the American sports habits. Previously local-based, the American sports underwent the ongoing bureaucratization and institutionalization, with sports leagues and clubs becoming the new foci for sports activities (Brasch). At the same time, the new culture of voluntary associations underpinned the social environment in which the American sports was to exist since that time.


As Rader duly notes, the rise of the sporting groups in the 19th century foreshadowed the emergence of the 20th century leagues that have become the face of the U.S. professional sports (33). The rapid promotion of certain sports, such as baseball, as the newest national tradition contributed to the latter’s rapid popularization. While prior to that era, various local sports traditions existed in the state of isolation from each other, the late 19th century commercialization and generalization of the sports’ appeal, especially among the young generations, made the team sports the real national pastime of millions of rank-and-file Americans.

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