Origin and Institutionalisation of Sports and Gymnastics Associations in Nineteenth-Century Spain (1822-1900)

Xavier Torrebadella Flix

Javier Olivera Betrán

Mireia M. Bou

Original Language

Cite this article

Torrebadella i Flix, X., Olivera Betrán, J., & Bou, M. M. (2015). Origin and Institutionalisation of Sports and Gymnastics Associations in Nineteenth-Century Spain (1822-1900). Apunts. Educación Física y Deportes, 119, 7-54. https://doi.org/10.5672/apunts.2014-0983.es.(2015/1).119.01



This study addresses the birth and development of gymnastics and sports associations in Spain in the nineteenth century between 1822, when the first ones appeared, and 1900. This process contributed to the institutional structure, dissemination and social legitimisation of sport. Sports associations in Spain were initially rickety but took off after 1875. The introduction of sport coincided with the Bourbon Restoration and the craze of the Royals and the aristocracy for sport and the cultural model of England, and was underpinned by Regenerationism and the Institución Libre de Enseñanza. In order to build the list of clubs that made up institutionalised sport, three processes were followed, drawing from both primary and secondary sources. Firstly, a literature review of two of the authors’ previous work was conducted. Secondly, a thorough documentary search was carried out in Spain’s main digitised databases. Finally, the resulting data were compared with the latest historiographical works on the period. This three-fold methodological procedure resulted in a list of 363 sports associations located in the most affluent and industrialised locations. Cycling was the sport with the largest number of associations. The research findings show the vigour of the institutionalisation of sport in nineteenth-century Spain and its initial popularity among the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie.

Keywords: Cycling, History of Sport, Nineteenth Century, Spain, sports, Sports Associations.

ISSN: 1577-4015

Received: February 9, 2015

Accepted: March 4, 2015

Published: January 01, 2015