5.29.2014

Too Long for a Tweet, Too Short for a Blog Post II

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Here's an excerpt from a book I am reading now, Baseball in the Garden of Eden by John Thorn:

"I suggest that three essential ingredients facilitate the growth of any localized game to national sport.  First, gambling.  Adults must care about the outcome, and their willingness to place a wager is a reasonable measure of their interest. As a game matures, investors and civic boosters may pool their interests in order to absorb a greater risk, placing their bets on the protracted success of a club or a ball grounds. Second, statistics.  Whether merely game scores or primitive box scores, these numerical attachments to prose accounts accord a mantle of importance to the matches, an importance like  that of trade or transport or government; in addition, quantifying the game's constituent parts further fuels the first mover of sport, gambling.  Third, publicity.  Regular press coverage is a necessary development to convey the enthusiasm exhibited at a single contest, however it may have been fueled, to those only reading about ti afterward, often at great distance from the event.  Before baseball came to dominate the sporting scene in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, these three elements had previously advanced the popularity of other sports: the turf, the ring, sculling, cricket, and the pit (blood sports such as ratting ,baiting, cockfighting, and dog fighting).  Whether the crowd drawn by the activity was low or genteel, the ingredients and the progression were similar.  American sporting papers, beginning in the 1820s, paved the way for each sport to mature by providing records and prognostications related to events of interest to the sporting set and, underlying it all, the basis of a potential wager."
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