The Book of Sports

It's probably not what you think it is.There's no mention of soccer.It's legislation enacted by King James I of England in 1617, in opposition to the Puritan insistence on keeping holy the Sabbath in a manner following Old Testament norms."The declaration listed archery, dancing, "leaping, vaulting, or any other such harmless recreation" as permissible sports, together with "May-games,Whitsun-ales and Morris-dances, and the setting up of May-poles". Also allowed: women shall have leave to carry rushes to the church for the decorating of it, according to their old custom.King James had no patience for Puritans. He viewed them as really annoying and potentially dangerous. So he passed a law proclaiming that recreation on Sunday was lawful. But (and this was directed against recusant Catholics) you had to attend Anglican services first. You couldn't just go straight to the festivities. (I guess there were a lot of fun-loving recusant Catholics.)

Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.

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