Recreation Careers Background
Ancient people, after daily chores such as gathering food and mending clothing, devised ways to amuse and relax themselves. Often, the conclusion of a good harvest was celebrated with dancing, music, and other merriment. However, because most food, clothing, and other necessities were grown or handmade, little time was left for recreation.
Sporting events have a long history. The Olympic Games of Greece, first held in 776 BC, originally had religious significance, but developed as a celebration of athletics and competition. The ancient Greeks held athletics on the same level of study and participation as music, art, and scholarship. Ancient sports such as wrestling, boxing, archery, and track and field are still enjoyed today, by both athletes and spectators.
During the Middle Ages there were sports activities for people of all classes. The nobility enjoyed hunting, swordsmanship, and jousting while the common people played various ball games. Skill in all sports and athletic activity was considered a desirable attribute.
The perfect Renaissance man, an idea developed during the 14th century, excelled in music, art, and sports, as well as in academia. Today, people still view professional sportsmen and women with high regard; some have reached legendary status. Top athletes such as Lance Armstrong and Alonzo Mourning are respected for their activities off the field, as well as their performance in the arena.
Amateur-level sports make up a large part of the recreation industry. Organized leagues offer soccer, basketball, bowling, and baseball, among others, to people who love the competition and activity. Children’s games and leagues, organized by schools, park districts, and private groups, are also gaining in popularity.
The recreation industry also includes amusement facilities. The early theme parks and carnivals were built as a source of weekend entertainment. People often brought their families for a day of picnics, games of chance, and simple rides. A day at an amusement park remains a popular family activity. However, to keep fresh and to attract repeat customers, parks are constantly adding bigger rides and more elaborate shows and parades to suit the publics’ ever-changing tastes and attitudes.
The performing arts have provided relaxation and recreation for thousands of years. Theater developed centuries ago from religious dances and rituals. Poetry read aloud in ancient Greece was the forerunner of modern- day tragedy plays. The popularity of theater declined after the rise of Christianity but enjoyed renewed success with the introduction of miracle plays in the 10th century. Theater was not common in the United States until the 18th century. Many cities had resident companies but welcomed performances by traveling acting troupes.
Dance is the rhythmic and expressive movement of the body, usually done to music. Dancing can be classified as ceremonial, social, and theatrical. Theatrical dance is a form of recreation enjoyed by many people. Performed by professional dance troupes, theatrical dance is a choreographed dance for performance, such as ballet, modern dance, jazz, and show dance. Social dance, such as folk dance, ballroom dance, and club dance, does not necessarily require professional training, and so provides entertainment and recreation for people of all ages and backgrounds. Ceremonial dance is practiced in association with religious or cultural events.
Automation, growing incomes, and more leisure time have prompted tremendous growth and choices in the recreation industry. Recreation is now commonly considered an important part of one’s health and peace of mind. Just about any interest and activity are available to people of all ages, intellects, and incomes. Vacations are planned around the types of recreational facilities available. At times, travel is part of the activity, as is the case with cruises. City budget directors now plan for outdoor activities, stadiums, and theater buildings, knowing that such recreational facilities will attract tourist dollars. Recreational programs are used as physical and emotional therapy for the elderly and people with disabilities. Growing interest and participation points to a bright future for the recreation service industry.