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Having Fun: Sports and leisure  


There are no men of leisure in town.... The old men never think of "retiring," nor is there anything for them to retire to...
James Parton, 1868

We Pittsburghers know how to work, but we also know how to have a good time. Even at the same time! We haven't always had leisure, but we've always had fun: sports, parks, amusements, hobbies and other diversions.

Related subjects: Social studies, language arts, physical education

Grade levels: Adaptable 3-12 grades

FYI: Background article

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Have you ever seen a dog with a thimble collection?

Perhaps a wolf that has taken up folk dancing?

Although animals do occasionally exhibit behavior that seems to serve no purpose other than to provide a little amusement and exercise, mammals spend the bulk of their time finding food, protecting their territory, and fighting off predators.

Human beings, on the other hand, have evolved to devote huge portions of their life to indulging individual interests and engaging special skills – simply for the sheer enjoyment of it! It could be said that what separates us most from other animals is our ability to choose hobbies.

But simply "having fun" understates the case. Centuries ago, the goal of "having fun" was not to fill up copious free time with amusing pursuits. Indeed, there was no free time to fill up! Historically, we are not so different from other mammals, spending the bulk of our time finding food, protecting our territory and fighting off predators!

Far from filling up "leisure time," the goal in those days was to create fun where none existed. We human mammals also exhibited an odd need to seek pleasure in our existence, to demand a measure of joy that would make even the most excruciating drudge-work bearable. And when none of those joyful measures existed, human beings found ways to inject them into a situation.



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