Lace up the boots, full tilt ahead : recreation, immigration, and labor on Chicago's soccer fields, 1890-1939
Logan, Gabriel S.
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This examination of the historical development of Chicago soccer from 1890 to 1939 fills a gap in the existing literature on American sport history. This time period marks the beginning of Chicago’s first organized soccer league and concludes with the city’s first United States National Cup championship. This dissertation uses Chicago soccer as a prism, whereby the interconnections among recreation, immigration, and labor are established. Furthermore, this study advances our knowledge of United States soccer by demonstrating how Chicago bridged Midwest and East Coast soccer. Specifically, in St. Louis, it was primarily native-born players who embraced the game, whereas New York City’s leagues relied almost exclusively on immigrants to roster their many teams. Chicago demonstrated both of these patterns. British immigrants first organized Chicago soccer and native-born players quickly embraced it. Succeeding waves of Chicago immigrants also contributed to the game by organizing ethnic teams, introducing innovative playing styles, and helping to create a distinct Chicago style of play. Soccer permeated Chicago; it was a significant activity that brought together neighborhoods, businesses, industries, unions, high schools, colleges, universities, and entire towns, not just for matches and tournaments, but for a celebration of collective pride. An examination of Chicago soccer provides a greater understanding of how Chicago lived and played and how soccer evolved from an ethnic recreation to a passion of the people.