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They Will Have Their GameSporting Culture and the Making of the Early American Republic$
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Kenneth Cohen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781501705496

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501705496.001.0001

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Prestige or Profit

Prestige or Profit

(p.128) Chapter 4 Prestige or Profit
They Will Have Their Game

Kenneth Cohen

Cornell University Press

Although investors in the early national period originally hoped to build a sporting culture that granted them both profit and prestige, the demand for profit-seeking created by the economic culture of the post-Revolutionary years ultimately forced them to decide whether to maximize revenue by appealing to the largest possible audience or craft prestige for themselves by making sure that venues and content emphasized exclusivity and celebrated the elite. The social history of attending sporting events in the early national period reveals how demands from nonelite audiences pushed investors and professionals to prioritize profit over prestige. It then concludes by detailing how white men united to limit the confrontation that resulted from broader accessibility by erecting gender and racial barriers to full participation, and how politicians then borrowed from sport to construct a white male republic rooted in the pursuit of manhood and profit. In sum, then, this chapter highlights how elites and investors responded to popular opposition to exclusive elitism by conceding their desire for social and cultural authority and focusing on deference earned through wealth and white male brotherhood.

Keywords:   Class Conflict, Commercialization, Democratization, Racism, Masculinity, Investors, Audiences, African Americans, Women, Politics

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