Vaudeville shows crossed economic and ethnic boundaries, as many different social groups would mix in the audience.Other popular shows of the time included circuses and Wild West shows, the most famous of the latter being William F. Motion pictures also served as entertainment during leisure time for urban audiences.People responded to this increased allowance of free time by attending a variety of leisure activities both within and away from the city.
Although yacht races were also initially more popular for the wealthy, the America's Cup series of racing, begun in 1870, increased the sport's appeal.
Other types of races which were popular included rowing, sailing, auto boat, and automobile races, the last category beginning in the 1890s.
By the 1850s, the sport rapidly spread to many parts of the country as teams were formed from all classes and ages of society.
Baseball rapidly became more organized as it became America's favorite sport.
Derived from the English game of rugby, American football was started in 1879 with rules instituted by Walter Camp, player and coach at Yale University.
Basketball derived from the need for an indoor sport during the winter months.
While initially only the wealthy could partake of most sporting events, the opening of publicly available gymnasiums, courts, and fields allowed the working and middle classes to participate also.
Athletic clubs such as the New York Athletic Club were organized and the YMCAs began to institute sports programs.
These programs mostly focused on track and field events, instituted by communities of Scottish and English descent, and gymnastics, heavily influenced by German athletics.
Gymnasiums, which featured exercises using Indian clubs, wooden rings, and dumbbells, were opened in many Eastern cities.