Bryn Mawr's first students were encouraged to partake of individual outdoor activities as well the required physical culture classes. Lawn-tennis, bicycling, and walking with fellow students-all considered acceptable pastimes by the administration-were popular. Riding horses were available from a local stable.
Organized sports, in the form of games with prescribed rules, quickly became part of campus life. Contests among the classes, including tennis tournaments and basketball games, were formalized in May 1891 with the establishment of the Athletic Association. From its inception onward, Bryn Mawr's Athletic Association was responsible for establishing the regulations for all of the college's sports that were not part of the physical education requirement. Membership was open to students who chose to pay the modest dues.
The Association governed, among other things, the style, color, and length of uniforms; the procedures for sick athletes; the consequences of chewing gum; and the choice of rules for individual sports. In its first year, the Association held a student tennis tournament in the fall, an indoor athletic meet in April, and an outdoor spring tournament in May, the first of many campus competitions that would become part of campus life.
The Athletic Association was extremely influential in fundraising for new equipment and new facilities, promoting the athletics program to the college administration and alumnae, and in supporting intercollegiate athletics. By 1906, fifteen years after its founding, the Association had expanded its scope to include seasonal hockey, basketball and tennis tournaments with outside teams, a cricket club, lacrosse and water polo teams, indoor and outdoor track meets, and swimming competitions.