The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 16

By Harvey H. Jackson III | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

This volume shows the decisions that the people of the American South have made about how to spend their leisure time. Consideration of sports and recreation connects with larger issues of southern cultural development. It tells much, for example, about everyday life. Beginning in an agrarian society, southerners became hunters and they fished the waters of the region. Recreation in those days was often tied to subsistence; as generations passed, though, southerners continued to embrace those activities as sports that kept them close to the environment and nurtured particular cultural values. Women drew from domestic work recreational activities that nurtured their spirits; quilting bees, for example, became not only functional and aesthetically pleasing activities but entertaining ones as well. People refreshed themselves with play and pastimes in semipublic places as well, passing the time at the country store, barbershop, and beauty parlor and sitting on the iconic porch, conversing with neighbors, friends, and passersby. In the 20th century, sports and recreation became spectacle as modern mass culture and consumerism entered the region and made lovers of sports into spectators. Professional sports franchises were slow to come into the South, but college football and basketball developed fan bases. More recently, teams like the Atlanta Braves and the Dallas Cowboys become regional icons. The football success of the New Orleans Saints in the years after Hurricane Katrina made the team a rallying point, raising pride and spirits throughout the hard-hit Gulf Coast. Giant sports stadia and arenas in cities mark the landscape of people who invest considerable meaning in loyalty to their local teams.

The South’s sporting and recreational life was long structured around institutions and activities that reflected a patriarchal and racially conscious society. Women and African Americans established separate spheres. Women’s domestic recreations and their participation in women’s bowling, basketball, and other leagues showed their embrace of an individual competitive urge and yet also community-based recreational interaction. Negro baseball leagues, Historically Black College and University marching bands and football games, and juke joints were only a few of the institutions that African Americans used as venues for distinctive talk, storytelling, and other cultural expressions. Further, some recreational choices reflect social class preferences, as in the workingclass embrace of stock car racing and the middle class of tennis and golf. Other

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The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture - Vol. 16
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • General Introduction xiii
  • Introduction xix
  • Leisure, Sports, and All Sorts of Recreation 1
  • Index of Contributors 363
  • Index 365
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