Comparison between past and present in recreation and leisure activities

Posted: October 17th, 2013









Recreational and Leisure Activities in Past and Present





Recreational and Leisure Activities in Past and Present

Leisure is described by Veblen as consumption of time non-productively. Various historical eras had different views on leisure and recreation, and they treated them differently. In past historic eras, leisure was viewed as exploitation, but this perception has greatly changed over the years. However, there are some similarities on issues related to leisure and recreation in the past and modern times (Ritchie, 1994)

The industrialization era, which occurred in the 19th century, was characterized by rapid improvements in the industries in terms of production. Industrialization profoundly influenced leisure and recreation during this era. The church was not in favor of leisure and instead promoted work, which they highly valued. There was an incident in 1844 where Henry Ward Beecher, a minister, stormed the stage of a concert hall condemning commercial entertainment. In the 1880s and 90s church leaders started favoring play and even provided libraries, assembly halls and gymnasiums (Goodale & Godbey, 1988). Churches have continued to promote leisure through organizing and financing of leisure activities. However, despite the banning of the theatre in the earlier period, they started gaining popularity. Drinking was also a major form of leisure during the period just as in modern times where people meet up in bars for a drink just to have fun, interact or even relax after work.

Professionalism in sports emerged during this era and has continued to develop in present day where sportsmen earn a living from sporting activities. Countries also hold inter-country sports competitions that promote cohesion. Colleges in the United States were not left behind, they started the first competitive sports events (Goodale & Godbey, 1988). This included sports such as baseball, rowing and track. This has continued over the years where inter-school competitions are held in various parts of the world. Football also became a major sporting activity featured in the intercollegiate sporting events and competitions too, and it has continually grown roots in the recreational field and has become one of the most popular sports in the world.

The industrialization era had various effects on modern times when it comes to leisure and recreational activities. During this period, various developments promoted recreational activities and facilities. First, the adult education movement that was concerned with adult civic education. Through this, there was an expansive development in reading as a form of recreational experience. A promotion of culture through arts and crafts was also experienced and this promoted study of art in learning institutions. This influence is evident today through the number of libraries stretched across the world, the number of books and other written material published today, the internet is also a clear indication of this development since it provides all sources of written information that one may require.

Preservation of natural heritage also began in this period. The Congress took the first step in preservation in1864 where it set aside a large piece of land for recreational purposes. The first state parks were also set aside in the era .these steps widely contributed to promotion of leisure in modern times since these parks are still used to date. People spend their leisure time visiting these places (Murdy, J. J., 2004).

Founding of voluntary organizations such as the Young Men’s Christian Association also played a great role in promoting recreational activities especially for the youth and for the children. This has influenced the voluntary organizations to continue contributing in the field of leisure and recreation. Various playgrounds such as the Boston Sand Garden were established where people could play. The Boston Sand Garden was specifically formed for children. Such grounds are in existent up to date and they have widely promoted recreational activities since they are used to host sports events.

During this era, many sporting activities emerged such as wrestling matches, shooting matches, foot races. Women also began enjoying recreational activities such as dance, athletics, gymnastics, and physical education. Towards the end of the 19th century, there was a wide emergence of outdoor activities such as hunting, mountain climbing, which have continued to be major sports in modern world (Goodale & Godbey 1988).

Economic factors in this period also contributed to promotion of recreation act ivies in the 1800s. Since there was increased wages paid to the workers who also had shorter working hours, the workers started participating in organized sports. There were also cheap train transportation services to move players and the fans to sports events. This could be interpreted in modern times as government support on recreational and leisure activities. Governmental support is demonstrated in labor laws that promote the welfare of workers and prevent their over-exploitation giving them leisure time. Another way in which the government has been on the frontline in promotion of recreational activities is through funding. It has been financing various sporting events and motivated sportspeople through various compensation schemes.

The past historical eras’ developments had a lot of influence on the current age leisure and recreational activities. It is from these developments that today’s leisure shapes itself to what we see today. Specifically the industrialization era where many changes occurred in terms of development in the economic field and other fields, which developed into the modern world that is full of developments, is a good comparison to the modern views on leisure. Various steps that were taken in that era have made great impacts in the field of leisure and economic activities. They have ensured continued development in this area over the years.


An Image of the Industrialization Era


Goodale, T. L., & Godbey, G. (1988). The evolution of leisure: Historical and philosophical perspectives. State College, PA: Venture Pub.

Murdy, J. J., (2004). Proceedings of the 2003 Northeastern Recreation Research Symposium: April 6-8, 2003 Bolton Landing, New York. Newtown Square, PA: USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station

Ritchie, D. (1996). Sports and recreation. New York: Chelsea House.


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