Sport and the Urban

Authored by: Kimberly S. Schimmel

Routledge Handbook of the Sociology of Sport

Print publication date:  August  2015
Online publication date:  July  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415829731
eBook ISBN: 9780203404065
Adobe ISBN: 9781134116621


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We live in an urban world. The 2010 report from the United Nations Population Division confirmed that for the first time in human history over half of the world’s population lived in cities. And while many reading this Handbook probably take both cities and the presence of sport within them for granted, it is important to remember that in 1900, when England became the first country to urbanize, the world was still 86 percent rural and what we now recognize as sport largely existed as clubs and voluntary associations. It was not until 1920 in the US and 1931 in Canada that half of the population was located in urban settlements. The growth of cities was so rapid during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that the time period is often referred to as the ‘urban revolution’. So, seen within the context of several million years of human habitation on our planet, cities are a relatively new social invention, having only existed for the last 10,000 or so years. The social, cultural, and economic hegemony of cities, however, is even more recent (Palen 2005).

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