• Richard Holt
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


In his classic essay on the play element in culture, Homo Ludens, Huizinga noted that ‘contests of skill, strength and perseverance have always occupied an important place in every culture either in connection with ritual or simply for fun or festivity’. Ever since the ancient Greeks men have channelled their playful instincts in competitive directions in order to display their prowess. Yet, sports should not in consequence be seen as ‘fixed unchanging entities that have always existed in their present form and will always continue to do so’. Both the form and the content of these manifestations of the ludic drive have evolved in step with wider changes in living conditions and social attitudes. In particular, the upheaval in the economic and social structure of Europe that took place in the course of the later nineteenth century helped to dissolve traditions of popular recreation that had grown up over the centuries. No branch of sporting activity was untouched by the overall process of modernisation. New sports like cycling were produced by technological progress, whilst older games were recast to fit the rhythms of an industrialising society. Even traditional country sports were transformed and infiltrated by new social groups.1


Sport Club Cycle Race Major Occupational Group Association Football Classic Essay 
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Copyright information

© Richard Holt 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Holt
    • 1
  1. 1.University of StirlingUK

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