Originally published in 1982, How Boston Played helps bring the study of sport within the broader scope of social history. Focusing on the fifty-year period following the Civil War, Stephen Hardy examines how Bostonians reacted to urban disorder by attempting to shape meaningful forms of community through the use and production of leisure.
Whether consciously molding the city through the construction of public spaces or developing social ties through organizations such as athletic clubs, Bostonians of all classes participated in recreation-based community building, often at cross-purposes. Elite Bostonians, for instance, promoted the establishment of parks as a healthy alternative to unsavory activities, such as drinking and gambling, that they associated with the city’s vast new pool of immigrants. They were soon forced to compromise, however, with citizens who were less interested in the rhetoric of moral uplift than in using the parks for competitive athletics and commercial amusements.
In a new epilogue, the author revisits How Boston Played, noting its relation to subsequent scholarship. Hardy especially emphasizes the changing conceptions of community, anchored in race, and gender, that have supplemented the class-based, urban paradigm of his work. But even after two decades, How Boston Played remains an accessible and essential contribution to American urban, sport, and social history.
The Author: Stephen Hardy, a native of Boston, is professor of kinesiology and adjunct professor of history at the University of New Hampshire. He is the coauthor, with Bernard Mullin and William Sutton, of Sport Marketing, and his numerous articles have appeared in such publications as the Journal of Sport History, Journal of Urban History, Encyclopedia of Urban America, and Theory, Culture, and Society.