Susan F. Craft
In Colonial America, by 1750 households at all levels had prospered to the point where they could buy a wide range of non-essential consumer goods. Along with the prosperity came an interest in leisure activities, including outdoor games and foot races.
Militia musters, court days, and public executions became community festivals, which included games, foot races, wrestling contests, horse races, and cudgeling, in which contestants used a stout ash stick to bludgeon an opponent into submission. Colonials also enjoyed itinerant magicians, acrobats, trapeze artists, jugglers, and thepresentation of exotic animals.
In the rugged frontier environment of the backcountry in places like
no-rules fighting, and throwing axes and spears became popular sports.
Running among the American Indians grew out of the skills needed for war, particularly the need for practiced and trained runners who carried messages and vital information. Sometimes they held races as a form of entertainment at the conclusion of councils. The Iroquois tribes would select their best runners to compete in those foot races.
Foot races were a favorite sport among the Eskimos, who called them uk-whaun and ran them in the autumn when the new ice formed. The races would be one to three miles in length, to and around some natural object such as a stand of rocks.
During the American Revolution the First Continental Congress discouraged sports, as the founding fathers believed that idle amusements were decadent. They thought Americans should be virtuous and should abstain from luxuries like sports and should practice frugality. In contrast, George Washington encouraged games among his troops including foot races, bowling, cricket, shinny, fives, and a form of football. He felt the games allowed soldiers to exercise and gave them a relief from fighting and from their terrible living conditions.
Track-and-field athletics in the
dates from the 1860s. The Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of
America, the nation’s first national athletic group, held the first collegiate
races in 1873, and in 1888 the Amateur Athletic Union (which governed the sport
for nearly a century) held its first championships. United States
An estimated 800 marathons are now held around the world each year; 20 of them with 10,000 or more finishers.
The Boston Marathon is the world's oldest annual marathon. When it was first held in 1897 only 18 runners took part. Last year, however, more than 21,000 runners finished the 26.2 mile course.
My heart goes out to the families of the victims of the terror attack. I’m so proud of the first responders, professional and volunteer, who ran toward the victims and treated them with such care and concern. My sincere thanks to the members of all the agencies who worked together to capture the perpetrator of this heinous crime. Evil is alive and prospering in this world. As a Christian, it comforts me to know, with blessed assurance, that good will ultimately win the battle. God will prevail.