Free & Fit Archives - University of Gloucester Sports Chaplaincy Paper 1 - by Tim Cheux

Free & Fit Archives - University of Gloucester Sports Chaplaincy Paper 1 - December 2015 by Tim Cheux

The Church was a key player in the increasing popularity Of sport during the 19th century. Critically discuss.


Sport is a global industry attracting vast amounts of interestthrough sponsorship, TV rights, the media, radio, social media and various streams of advertisement thus raising exposure to the public and wider society of today. Looking at the origins of sport and how it became so popular to the public of today is very interesting, especially how non-participants sitting in an arm chair,comfy hotel bar, or local pub, will watch sport all weekend. This essay begins to examine the suggestion that sport has lost itsethos, core values, and ability to build a community, in part through a lost connection to the heritage from which it once drewthose core values- the Church.

The essay highlights the fact that Thomas Arnold was not very passionate about sport. Arnold, a focal public figure to whom much of muscular Christianity is accredited, built a school based on strong Christian values rather than a sporting curriculum. The Rev George Cotton and members of Arnold’s Rugby public school, rather than Arnold himself, were successful at transforming the ideals of sport into a Christian ethos of being kind, compassionate and honouring the faith they believed in. However, this was not sustainable throughout the 19th century and sports clubs and muscular Christianity became more like the foundations of the sporting world rather than the steering wheel behind it.

The essay concludes by suggesting that the church invested much time into growing, developing and nurturing sports clubs and many of its congregational members who were in Christian sports clubs or schools, but as a wider society, as an industry and as a business the church had a limited impact on improving global and national popularity in sport. However, the use of sport enabled the church to foster strong community relationships amongst people through local parish activities and church sports clubs.

1. 0 Sport and the English Public Schools

1.1 Thomas Arnold at Rugby (1828-1841)

'This school was originally a simple grammar-school, designed for the benefit of the town of Rugby and its neighbourhood' (Arnold, 1834, p. 234; Neddham, 2004) said Thomas Arnold of Ruby Public boy’s grammar school. Contrary to popular belief, Thomas Arnold was neither the endorser nor the headmaster who put the agenda of sport and athleticism on the map for public schools(Mangan, 1982). Moreover, headmasters at other schools- namely Vaughan at Harrow, Cotton at Marlborough and Thring at Uppigham- were more responsible for the school curriculum reforms which made physical fitness a priority and the introducedsport extra-curricular activities into the rhythm of school life. Ten years after Arnold’s death reports began to circulate in the public domain that he was influential in the introduction of sport into boy’s public schools. Despite being an advocate in press for building strong church values, it remains unclear whether or not Arnold’s students even participated in sport at school (Mangan, 1982).

Arnold’s greatest aspiration was a mission to transform societythrough focus on Christian values, rather than to encourage sport. His main desire was to discourage the youth of the early Victorian era from getting involved with crime and causing trouble on the streets (Holt, 1989). Nationalism, manliness, morality, and health were at the top of the agenda in the early 18th century and sport, specifically rugby football, established a change in the way the sporting curriculum and options were delivered (Chandler, 1999). First of all recreation, and not sport, was the order of play time for extra-curricular activities it was renowned not so much for organised fun, but violence and disorder (Mangan, 1981). Over time the demand for sport increased, but the society of the time craved discipline and through educational reform Thomas Arnold was able to establish rules. Other public schools later introduced and codified games through newly reformed and promoted clubswhich have worked with National Governing Bodies oftenorchestrated through the church.

Arnold was headmaster at Derby between 1828 and 1841. He revolutioni