The Rise of American High School Sports and the Search for Control: 1880-1930 (Sports and Entertainment)

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9780815633143: The Rise of American High School Sports and the Search for Control: 1880-1930 (Sports and Entertainment)

Nearly half of all American high school students participate in sports teams. With a total of 7.6 million participants as of 2008, this makes the high school sports program in America the largest organized sports program in the world. Pruter’s work traces the history of high school sports from the student-led athletic clubs of the 1800s through to the establishment of educator control of high school sports under a national federation by the 1930s. Pruter’s research serves not only to highlight this rich history but also to provide new perspectives on how high school sports became the arena by which Americans fought for some of the most contentious issues in society, such as race, immigration and Americanization, gender roles, religious conflict, the role of the military in democracy, and the commercial exploitation of our youth.

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About the Author:

Robert Pruter is the author of Chicago Soul and Doowop: The Chicago Scene. He is the government documents and reference librarian at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois.

Review:

Pruter (librarian, Lewis Univ.) describes the development and governance of high school sports during a period of their great expansion. He focuses on Chicago and Cook County, IL, but includes information about Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia, with less from other areas. Early on, private schools enrolled more students and provided more sports and interscholastic leagues; after 1900 public schools became dominant and sponsored most sport activity. Most early school sport competition was organized and managed by students, with adults beginning to take control after the turn of the century. A number of colleges organized tournaments for high school students. Early competitions often included private and public schools, but with time private schools were eliminated from state associations and formed their own leagues. In the 1920s, school sport expanded, especially in big cities, but opposition arose to girls' competitive sport, which decreased significantly. Sectional and "national" high school tournaments increased, many sponsored by universities, and more state athletic associations were established. African American students in many parts of the country attended segregated schools, and athletic associations were established to provide their interscholastic competitions. An epilogue comments on racial integration, Title IX, and commercialization of school sport. Extensive notes and bibliography. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, researchers/faculty. (R. McGehee, University of Texas at Austin CHOICE Reviews for Academic Libraries)

Robert Pruter’s new book offers scholars a much-needed organizational history
of high school athletics in the United States during the late-nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries. (Jason Reid, Ryerson University Canada American Studies Journal)

A solid contribution to not only the study of sports history, but also to our knowledge of Chicago History. Pruter’s book details the evolution of interscholastic sports in the United State and reminds us that many of the issues in high school athletics today were present some four generations ago. (Christopher C. Elzey, George Mason University Journal of Illinois History)

An outstanding example of empirical history. (Murray Sperber, University of California, Berkeley American Historical Review)

High School sports researchers and enthusiasts will find this work a necessary contribution to the historical narrative. (Gabe Logan, Associate Professor of History Northern Michigan University Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society)

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