Sport Advancements in Canadian History
February 14, 2018
“The great thing about sports is that it’s all about character and you can learn lessons about life even if you don’t win” – Michael Scott. This was not how the early Canadians saw sport they wanted to win or they saw it as a failure and as an embarrassment. Sport in Canadian history has seen major changes involved in shaping sports into what they have become today. The reconstruction of sport, differences in First Nations, and Euro-Canadian sports, and the safety and fairness have all played major roles in these changes.
Firstly, In the early nineteenth century, the majority of active sportsman were gentleman players from the merchant or upper class of society and garrison officers. The settlers brought over sports from their homelands, and they were also eager to learn new activities and sports. They loved horse racing, and having leisure time which helped persuade them to sports that dealt with hunting, running, and climbing. Their managerial experience and inclusive interest and enthusiasm resulted in a wide range of sports being created within the community. At this time, sports were available to the working class but they lacked the available time necessary to participate in sport. In the late nineteenth century, sports became more organized, which included the development of various national organizations. Many Canadian men participated in sports including lacrosse, baseball, hockey, rugby/football, and soccer. Women’s participation in sports was limited until the 1960s because sports were considered too “manly” for girls or women to participate in. A big advancement in the sports industry was the creation of the railroad. This saved a lot of time on travelling because without the railroad it would take days to get to places to play sports. This was very inconvenient for people because they did not have days to go play sports. When the railroad was created it cut travel time to sports way down and made it available for people to go watch or even play sports. Some people were working sixty-hour weeks which made them unable to travel to sporting events. With the invention of the railroad it now took less time to travel to sporting events so they were able to play. Next this essay will talk about the differences that occurred in First Nations and Euro-Canadian sports.
Secondly, this essay will talk about the differences in First Nations and Euro-Canadian sports. Many indigenous games had utilitarian purposes that related to survival. The games of the Inuit were related to survival but mostly used to prepare youth for a supportive presence in the harsh environment in which they lived in. This shows that the First Nations were very practical in their creation of sports because they used them to prepare for multiple aspects of life. The sports were used for daily life as well as preparing the people for war. This preparation for war was big among this culture because they never knew when they were going to fight a group of people so they always had to be ready just in case. Among European settlers, play was relatively unimportant because they considered the serious work of survival much more important. They did not want to be too worn out from playing sports to be able to fight a group of people if they needed too. Social and recreational activities though were necessary and did occur. They occurred so as to hang out with your friends and make new acquaintances. French Canadians inherited their love of social gatherings from the settlers that came over from France. In the 1860s George Beers developed the modern sport of lacrosse. He did this by creating a set of written rules, standardizing the equipment, and creating a governing body (National Lacrosse Association). These advancements in lacrosse really made it a big sport in Canada increasing participation by a great amount. Prior to doing this, before every game a set of rules had to be made and decided on. This was time consuming and there were many differences in the rules that other people used. He wanted to come up with a set of rules that everyone could use so they could spend more time playing and less time picking out rules that they should use. Standardizing the equipment was also a big part of his advancements because it made everyone wear the same things so you didn’t have one person well padded and another person not wearing any padding. It also helped to distinguished what team you were on because your team had to wear the same uniform. These Euro-Canadians used their managerial skills to create clubs, leagues, and schedules which greatly benefited the advancement of sports. Even though there are differences between First Nations and Euro-Canadian sports they both enjoyed playing sports. This essay will now touch on the safety and fairness or lack there of involved in sport.
Finally, this essay will talk about the lack of safety and fairness involved in sport. Back in the day sports were a major importance in Canada, even though there was not much that had to do with safety and fairness many people still played these sports anyways. One of the reasons that people played sports was for the love of the game. This love for sports was because of how great they felt while playing and competing. Another reason for people playing sports was that they were competitive and this was a good way to compete for something. This competition was a good preparer for war because it forced them to fight all sorts of men. When fighting in sports there was no classes breaking up each weight. This was to prepare the men for war because in war you do not get to pick who you are going to fight, you just fight whoever shows up on the opposite side. This could be a smaller person or a bigger person. Even though there were no classes everybody still fought because it was cowardly to back out of a fight. There was more honour seen in losing a fight then not even fighting at all. The fights were to the finish so there were no breaks until a winner was declared. This is like being in war because you do not stop during a fight to rest and then go back to fighting after that. Before fighting, some people would try to intimidate their opponent and make him drop out of the fight because this was seen as a great feat to best your opponent without even fighting. This made them look powerful because they did not have to fight anyone to be declared the winner. After losing a fight, you did not congratulate someone on their victory because this was seen as cowardly and you would be an embarrassment to your peers. In most events with multiple scores from contestants, only the winning score would be posted so as to not embarrass the other competitors. Even though safety and fairness were not big in sports in the nineteenth century many men still played sports.
In conclusion, because of the modernization of sport, differences in First Nations, and Euro-Canadian sports, and the safety and fairness there has been major changes to shape sport more into what it is known as today. These major changes that have shaped sport in Canadian history into what it is were not possible without all of the advancements listed in this essay.
Kidd, Bruce. The Struggle for Canadian Sport. University of Toronto Press, 2002.