Asylums and Sport: Participation, Isolation and the Role of Cricket in the Treatment of the Insane

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Abstract

In the histories of mental institutions, sports and recreations have played a central role. Particular focus has been placed on staff and patients but it is only recently that historians have sought to explain the role of sport in general, and cricket in particular, in therapeutic terms. In addition, other recent work has highlighted the importance of cricket as one of the activities that placed asylums at the centre of a wider network within society. Yet there remains a pervasive sense these institutions were both isolated and distant. The aim of this article is to understand this apparent contradiction by drawing together recent themes relating to therapy and interaction. Using contemporary and secondary sources, it will explore the composition of teams. Focusing primarily on Great Britain, and using a case study from the north of England at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it will seek to explain who played cricket in the asylum and who represented the teams that played in the local community. It will also explore reactions locally to those teams. Ultimately, it will show that although teams were integrated within their local communities, it was their composition that contributed to both physical and social senses of isolation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-101
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2013

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