3. Elias Folk Football

3. Elias Folk Football - 174 " ,\ A n Essay on Sport...

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" ,\ 174 An Essay on Sport and Violence morals stood on one side, morals without manners on the other. Early in the eighteenth century the two traditions began to move closer to each other. The attempt made by Addison and Steele to reconcile morals and manners was only one manifestation of a wider trend. Not only citizens but the landed classes, the aristocracy and the gentry were affected by the pressures which the restraints on the use of physical force and the pressure for greater regularity in the conduct of life imposed on individuals in a politically more stable and rapidly commer- cializing country. However, with the trend towards greater regularity, life tended to become duller. Conditions of strong individual excitement, particularly of socially shared excitement which might lead to loss of self-control, now became rarer and socially less tolerable. The problem was how to enable people to experience to the full the pleasurable excitement which appears to be one of the most elementary needs of human beings without the attending social and personal dangers for others or oneself, and in spite of a conscience-formation that was apt to clamp down on many forms of excitement which, in former ages, had been sources of high pleasurable gratification as well as of upheavals, injuries and human suffering. How could one ensure for human beings in an increasingly regularized society a sufficiency of pleasurable excitement as a shared experience, without the risk of socially intolerable disorders and mutual injuries? One of the solutions to this problem in EnglanCl, as one saw, was the emergence of pastimes in the form that became known as 'sport'. The English form of fox-hunting was only one exam- ple among others of this transformation but it shows very vividly an early stage in the solution of that problem. The change from the emphasis on winning the contest to the greater emphasis on the long pleasurable excitement of the contest itself was, in this respect, highly significant. At a later stage, it found its expression in the well-known sports ethos according to which it was not the victory but the game itself which mattered. The fox-hunters were still able actually to injure and kill, if only by proxy and only animals. Other forms of sport, such as cricket and football, show how the problem was solved in cases where all the participants were human beings. 5 Folk Football in Medieval and Early Modern Britain Norbert Elias and Eric Dunning Reasonably reliable references to a ball-game called 'football' can be found in English sources from about the fourteenth century onwards, but identity of the name does not in the least vouchsafe identity of the game itself.1 All that we know of the way in which it was played points to a very different type of game. The majority of references to football in medieval English sources come either from official prohibitions of the game in the edicts of kings and civic authorities or from reports of court cases against people wh0 had broken the law by playing the
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This note was uploaded on 05/25/2011 for the course HIST 303 taught by Professor Salesa during the Fall '10 term at University of Michigan.

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3. Elias Folk Football - 174 " ,\ A n Essay on Sport...

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