The contradictions that characterized Arnold's definition of Culture informed the project of rational recreation as a whole, a project that was only partly successful. rational recreation was meant to bring classes together with the aim of cultivating a community defined by middle‐class tastes and morals, it was an almost total failure.
the rational recreationists were more successful than they could have hoped: working‐class people not only subscribed enthusiastically to programs of self‐improvement, but also, not surprisingly, showed a strong desire to run the programs themselves.
While many aspects of the rational recreationist program were appropriated by the working classes, people in general strongly resisted attempts to reform and regulate traditional forms of leisure (see Figure 2.2 ). Drinking was notoriously hard to curb—even on the job—and blood sports and street games survived in spite of official prohibition and the promotion of alternatives
Prizefighting, or bare‐knuckle boxing, is an example of one sport that flourished in spite of attempts to curb it, which ranged from fining publicans who promoted it to charging fighters themselves with assault and, occasionally, homicide.