It was all going along well. Sport and play had their place in the calendar. Activities were evolving, some were enjoyed by the working people, some by the nobles and some by both. Then along came the Puritans.
It wasn’t as if the Puritans disapproved of activity, they just felt that labour should provide that kind of outlet. This was the mindset that they took with them when they set off for the New World so it is natural that this attitude of looking down on play would have caught on in the 13 colonies. Even in Britain, which saw the restoration of the monarchy after Puritan ascendancy in the era of Cromwell, the previous exposure to Puritan attitudes held some of the more outrageous play in check. To be acceptable sport had to be cleansed of racy language, dishonesty and immorality. But play for the lower classes was soon to be curtailed even more.
With the growth of industry brought about by the Industrial Revolution, time for play all but disappeared, at least for the working classes. Work took most of their waking hours. There was no time or energy left for play.
Brailsford, Dennis. British Sport: A Social History, The Lutterworth Press, Cambridge, 1992.
Wiggins, David K. Sport in America: From Colonial Leisure to Celebrity Figures and Globalization. Human Kinetics, Champaign, Il. 2010