If you are looking to turn an ordinary conversation into an argument, conventional wisdom suggests that you look to the topics of politics and religion. While these topics certainly will do the job, it is the topic of sports that will transform a cordial dialogue into vitriolic discord more quickly than any other subject matter. Behold the numerous radio stations, both national and local, that routinely capitalize on this paradigm. Listen as callers repeatedly change themselves into frenzied and hysterical madmen over a fumbled football or a misplayed fly ball.
Interestingly, the history of sport often evokes a similar passion, with heated debate accompanying the study of the evolution and origin of specific games. A sport whose origins are often contentiously debated is stoolball. If you suggest to a cricket fan that stoolball evolved into baseball, you may find yourself the recipient of the flat end of a cricket bat. If you suggest to a baseball fan that stoolball evolved into cricket, you may find yourself connecting with a Louisville Slugger. Regardless of its evolution, stoolball (in all of its varieties and forms), was a very popular and competitive sport in early America.
(To read the full article about the history of stoolball in early America, go to the latest issue of Woodville Plantation's newsletter, Window on Woodville.)