Leisure History And Theory

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Leisure History and Theory

Leisure History and Theory

Part - I: leisure History

The construct of Recreation has changed historically. From earliest times humans have participated in and watched games and sporting activities, most famously the Olympic Games in which the ancient Greeks competed in a variety of athletic endeavors. The rules for many of the sports we recognize today began to be drawn up in the nineteenth century. At this time in Britain, many people took advantage of increased opportunities for Recreation by participating in sports. Association football was the most popular among the working classes, while cricket and rugby were seen as more aristocratic pursuits, despite enjoying considerable working-class participation in some areas. These games and many others were exported by Britain throughout its empire. The United States preferred baseball to cricket and American football to rugby or soccer while basketball, the only major sport truly to originate in America, also became extremely popular. In the twentieth century sport became increasingly organized and professionalized, with the introduction of regular international competitions. By the end of the century many sports had become hugely profitable business enterprises watched by vast television audiences.

This part of the paper examines the meaning of Recreation and the history of Recreation since the Ancient Greeks up through contemporary history. This also identifies the specific ways in which Recreation has changed over time.

History of Recreation and leisure

The word originated from the Latin word “licere”, which means 'to allow'. A sense of the permissible is therefore built in to the term, though in much analytical work on Recreation the word has been understood as coupled with the notion of labor or work. Recreation was first defined as part of Athenian philosophy more than two thousand years ago. Aristotle wrote that the correct use of Recreation was the first principle of human activity. He criticized a focus on wealth that distracted people from developing their character through Recreation. The ancient Greeks did not regard work as inherently virtuous. Because almost one-third of the residents of Athens were slaves, Athenian male citizens were considered wealthy if they could live without working. Recreation was not a consequence of wealth but rather an intrinsic component of wealth. True wealth included participating in Recreation through the intellectual, cultural, and political life of the community. This Greek ideal provided a model for today's valuing of Recreation, although the belief that Recreation is a right for all people has evolved over time. (Bourdieu, 2009)

In today's world, time, activity, space, a psychological experience, or a cultural context can each be variously conceptualized as “Recreation.” Recreation time can also be referred to as free time or unobligated time. In Western cultures Recreation generally represents a relationship to work that includes the distinction between free time and work and the separation of paid work from other life activities. The problem with this “time” definition is that little of anyone's time is truly free. People have many obligations that consume ...
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