Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America's Favorite Spectator Sport

Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America's Favorite Spectator Sport

by Matthew Algeo

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Overview

Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America's Favorite Spectator Sport by Matthew Algeo


Strange as it sounds, during the 1870s and 1880s, America’s most popular spectator sport wasn’t baseball, football, or horseracing—it was competitive walking. Inside sold-out arenas, competitors walked around dirt tracks almost nonstop for six straight days (never on Sunday), risking their health and sanity to see who could walk the farthest—more than 500 miles. These walking matches were as talked about as the weather, the details reported in newspapers and telegraphed to fans from coast to coast. This long-forgotten sport, known as pedestrianism, spawned America’s first celebrity athletes and opened doors for immigrants, African Americans, and women. But along with the excitement came the inevitable scandals, charges of doping and insider gambling, and even a riot in 1879. Pedestrianism chronicles competitive walking’s peculiar appeal and popularity, its rapid demise, and its enduring influence.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781613743973
Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/01/2014
Pages: 262
Sales rank: 1,188,410
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Matthew Algeo is the author of Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure, Last Team Standing, and The President Is a Sick Man. An award-winning journalist, he has reported from three continents for public radio’s All Things Considered, Marketplace, and Morning Edition. He lives in Washington, DC.

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