street games

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A term referring to games and sports played on the streets, usually in relatively informal fashion. From hopscotch to blind man's buff, street racing to chanting and playing with hoops and tops, children in particular would use the street as a playground. Modern urban conditions and the growth of traffic on the streets, as well as domestic-based modes of media consumption and the provision of municipal parks, have made street games a thing of the past. Street life and games were an important element of a culture in dense urban settings, and were also undermined by liberal reformists, as described in Cary Goodman's Choosing Sides: Playground and Streetlife on the Lower East Side (1979), in relation to the German Jewish immigrant communities of 1890–1914 New York city: ‘our grandparents lived and laughed and loved and grew to adulthood in the streets. The streets provided opportunities for community, kibitzing, and recreation.’ A National Amateur Athletic Federation survey showed that participation in ‘sandlot baseball’ fell by 50 per cent from 1923 to 1925, the years cementing what has been labelled the USA's Goden Age of sport, when stadiums, multimillion-dollar sports, radio, and newpapers transformed the base of the sporting culture and began to sell the new forms back to the people. Stanley Aronowitz, in his preface to Goodman's study, argues that the study of street culture and its erosion is a confirmation of how ‘time and space are categories of power’.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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