The Structure of Leisure and Sport Provision in Great Britain

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The structure of leisure and sport provision in Great Britain

In this essay I am going to briefly discuss the history of leisure and fitness, going right back to its roots in the medieval period of the 500’s to the 1300’s. I will pass through different time scales on my way such as the pre-industrial times, the industrial revolution period, Victorian times and then eventually on to the modern day era, I will be looking at the way sport and leisure was back in each of these periods, outlining the changes that have been made during these times and looking to see how different leisure activities are now than they were back then. Through all periods I will highlight the most popular leisure activities of that generation. I will then very briefly outline the types of leisure activities that are on offer to people in today’s society and point out that it is not just sporting events that are classed as leisure activities. Keeping in line with modern day leisure I will discuss in detail the three major sectors in the leisure industry, these being the Public sector, the Voluntary sector and finally the Commercial sector. In these paragraphs I will outline the roles of each sector, the strengths and weaknesses of each sector, the role that politics and the government plays in various sectors and look to give illustrations of my explanations wherever possible. To conclude my essay I will put together a detailed paragraph highlighting how all three of the above mentioned sectors can work together to provide a greater service to the public in today’s society. I will do this by outlining the importance of ‘sector convergence’. During the medieval period (500 – 1300) sport and leisure activities consisted mainly of traditional folk games which were played by peasants. Tournaments would be linked in to military training for knights and nobles, who would serve for the royal family and their country. These activities would often involve animal baiting. (Dunning, 1999) The upper class on the other hand would play much more sophisticated games as they had more access to equipment and facilities due to their wealth. Usually these activities involved horses to participate or some form of hunting. If a peasant was ever considered reckless enough to emulate a sport that their masters undertook then they would be instantly punished by death. (Guttman, 1978) Women were also not encouraged to take part in any physical activity. There duty was seen to be housework and taking care of the family. During the pre-industrial times of 1500-1700 there was an intellectual and cultural movement that started in Italy and worked its way through Europe and eventually to Britain. This brought leisure activities such as; art, architecture, music, drama and dance all performed in theatres and on stage. This also brought about liberalism, which meant that people were more prone to drinking and gambling now and taking part in cruel sports such as ‘cock fighting’. After this came the industrial revolution (1750-1900’s), this led to profound social changes, as populations uprooted from small villages in the countryside to work in the factories in the major towns and cities. As a result of this there was very limited space for recreational activities and even if there was sufficient space, with people working twelve hour days, they just simply did not have the time to take part in any leisure activities. Owners of the factories feared that too much leisure time would allow their work force to get drunk and increase absenteeism. “Rise in population, poor housing, poverty, crime, increase in working hours all worked against leisure” (Torkildsen, 2005)

Rational Recreation then had a massive impact on sport. It was seen to be a response to the appalling social conditions that had to be endured through the times of the industrial revolution. It was brought about by the Victorian middle class beliefs in self improvement, the two main acts that were regarded as...
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