The religious side of the struggle is recognized also as having consequences for the history of English recreation, the Puritans being the kill-joys who pulled down the maypoles, stopped bear-baiting and gave us the English Sunday. It is much less widely appreciated that the political and social conflicts also impinged considerably upon popular sport, which became one of the minor issues in the overall confrontation. Sport, was, indeed, nearer to being a political issue than at any other period in our
history. How this came about, and what effect political attitudes had upon sporting practice, particularly when set against the economic and social determinants of this practice, may be useful questions to explore in an age like our own, when, with sporting performance becoming a matter of national prestige, physical pursuits could again become the subject of political dispute.