The development of modern sports is often attribute d to the codification and institutionalization of games and contests into amateur sport forms by the students and ex- students of nineteenth century English public schools and universities. Sport sociologists, however, point out that the development of the characteristics of modern sport can be seen as a more generalized process, which occurred as part of the changes from pre – industrial to industrialized society during the nineteenth century.
In order to examine the evolution of modern sport, this study traced the development of activities called pedestrianism and athletics, in England and in the Australian colonies of New South Wales and Victoria, in the nineteenth century. While the consolidation of amateur athletics, by the respective amateur athletic associations, was taken as the end point of the study, non-amateur forms of contests were examined, as well as amateur forms.
Evidence indicated that, with the exception of "hare and hounds " events, the pre - industrial contests, which formed the basis for the activities called "pedestrianism" and "athletics", did not attain the characteristics of modern sport entirely within the English public schools, university, amateur tradition. Many of these characteristics were present in professional pedestrianism before, and after, the development of amateur athletics.
The study indicates that the examination of "professional" and "non - acceptable" game and contest forms may be as important as the study of "amateur" and "acceptable" forms in the understanding of the genesis of modern sport.