Athleticism and its transfer to Canada

Peter Evans Armstrong
This thesis examines the origins of athleticism in England and its transfer to Canada. During the course of the nineteenth century, the focus of the English public schools changed dramatically. At the start of the century an English upper-class student's leisure time was largely employed in roaming the country-side, trespassing on neighboring estates and poaching. Teachers' responsibilities ended at the classroom door. Seventy-five years later an English public school student's life was
more » ... on games and team sports including cricket and the various types of football. Teachers now ran all aspects of school life which was designed to instill the manly, Christian, virtues which would enable graduates to take their proper place as leaders in the British Empire. And team sports were a vehicle to achieve that end. Team sports such as cricket and rugby, and the various institutions that promoted them, occupied a central place in upper-class English life and became infused with what Professor Mangan refers to as the 'games ethic': the ideology of athleticism. When the British administrators, soldiers, and immigrants came to Canada they brought with them their love of games and this 'games ethic' that was modified by Canadian experience. In England the 'ethic' was firmly entrenched and supported by a unique class and social structure. Because that structure did not exist in Canada, the attempts of early British Canadians to instill the 'ethic' in the new country were problematic and played out in the conflict between amateurs and professionals. Although an emerging working-class culture and an increasingly commercialized society challenged and eventually made the distinction between amateur and professional athletes irrelevant, belief in the 'games ethic' and in the instrumental value of team sports survived and continues to influence Canadian sport policy today.
doi:10.14288/1.0089953 fatcat:mxbk5u53vbgljauxsqi6bgtora