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11. Baker Varieties of Football

11. Baker Varieties of Football - Chapter 9 V ARIETIES O F...

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Chapter 9 VARIETIES OF FOOTBALL j' Of all the team sports that became organized in the nineteenth century, football was the most international in appeal and diverse in form. Nourished in England's prestigious "public" (private) schools, the old plebeian game split into two distinct styles of play. Association (soccer) football featured kicking and controlling the ball with the feet, without the use of hands; rugby football entailed handlingcas well as kicking, tackling as well as running with the ball. These distinctions emerged slowly, amid much controversy, and in the end appeale'ci to quite different segments of British society. The simpler of the two games, soccer, attracted mass participation and spectator audiences. Especially in the industrial Midlands and northern England, professional soccer became a spectacle of unrivaled popularity. During the last decade of the century, some northern rugby teams also went professionat but the rugby game remained largely a middle-class and aristocratic sport dominated by the elite public schools and universities and their graduates. Made in Britain, both games were quickly exported. Rugby became es- tablished largely in British colonies throughout the Empire, but soccer spread like wildfire in all of Europe and South America. By 1900 soccer football was well on the way to becoming the most internationally popular game in the world. For a brief time it was the dominant campus game in the United States, only to be replaced momentarily by the rugby code, then transformed into a unique American version of football: From the outset tI:te varieties of football were numerous. Schoolboy Games While restrictions of space, time, and local ordinances kept common folk from playing their traditional game of football in England's newly industrial- , li"'" """
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120 Team Sports in the Nineteenth Century ized towns, schoolboys at institutions such as Eton, Harrow, Westminste~, Winchester Charterhouse, Shrewsbury, and Rugby made the game theIr own. Called "public schools" because they had been founded in the distant past as charitable institutions for the education of bright b.ut poor boy~, th:se schools by the turn of the nineteenth century were anythIng but pu~hc .. Rich parents happily paid large sums to have their sons exposed to the mc~t~~s.of Latin and Greek, the advantages of useful connections, and the posSIbIlItIes of maturation in a loosely structured environment. Life at the public schools was coarse and often brutal. Discipline was lax. Boys mostly governed themselves by means of their own pecking order of authority: olde~ boys bullied newcomers mercilessly. On the playing fields as well as In the dormitories, the future leaders of England learned to exert their personalities and thus to wield power over the younger, weaker, or more timid members ~~~~ , Games admirably served those purposes. In the early autumn and late spring, boys rowed and played cricket. For the major part of th~ scho.ol year, however, their attention turned to football. Each school, physICally Isolated from the
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