A Brief History and the Evolution of Sports in the United States
Sports have been a part of the United States since its very beginning. From baseball to basketball, Americans have always loved to watch and play sports. But the sports landscape has changed a great deal over the years, with new sports emerging and others falling out of favor. This article will look at five major American sports through history and how each has evolved.
Read on, and we’ll cover:
1. The early days of sports in the United States
2. Baseball takes off and becomes a national pastime
3. Football gains popularity in the 20th century
4. Basketball comes into its own in the 1960s
5. Hockey makes a splash in the 1970s
6. Soccer slowly gains a foothold
The early days of sports in the United States
The history of sports in the United States can be traced back to the colonial period when English colonists brought over their love of sports, such as cricket and soccer. In the country’s early days, however, most sports were local affairs played between small towns and villages. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that organized, professional sports began to take root in the United States.
One of the country’s first organized professional sports leagues was the National Association of Base Ball Players, founded in 1858. This league gave birth to the first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, in 1869. Baseball quickly became a popular pastime in the United States, with teams springing up all over the country. By the early 20th century, baseball was firmly established as America’s national pastime.
While baseball was taking off, another sport was also gaining popularity in the United States: football. Football (or “football” as it is known in the United States) is a sport that was developed in the late 19th century from a number of different English games, including rugby and soccer. The first professional football team was the Pittsburgh Athletic Club, which was formed in 1892. Football quickly became a popular college sport, with teams such as Harvard and Yale fielding some of the country’s best squads. In 1920, a professional football league, the American Professional Football Association, was formed. This league would eventually be renamed the National Football League (NFL).
Basketball was making its debut at a time when baseball and football were both on the rise. Although it had been around for some time—1891, James Naismith, a Canadian physical education instructor, invented the sport of basketball—Basketball didn’t start to catch on until the middle of the century.
Baseball takes off and becomes a national pastime
The early days of sports in the United States were largely defined by baseball. The game took root in the country during the late 1800s and quickly became a national pastime. By the early 1900s, professional leagues were established, and the game was being played by millions of people across the country.
Baseball’s popularity only continued to grow in the 20th century. Major League Baseball expanded rapidly in the early 1900s, adding new teams and becoming a truly national institution. The game also became increasingly popular at the collegiate level, with colleges across the country fielding competitive teams.
In the years after World War II, baseball only became more popular. The game was seen as a symbol of America, and its popularity only continued to grow. Today, baseball is one of the most popular sports in the United States, with millions of fans across the country. Perhaps the biggest fan base exists in New York.
For example, the Brooklyn Dodgers (now LA Dodgers) became a professional team in 1883 and, since then, have won seven world series and 24 NL pennants. The Yankees came to be in 1901 and are one of the most popular and successful franchises in sports … period. They own 40 AL Pennants and 27 World Series titles and, along with the Dodgers, are favorites to win it all again in 2022. The Mets came around at the height of baseball’s popularity as a part of the first NL expansion in 1962. You can find New York Sports betting odds here.
Football gains popularity in the 20th century
While baseball may have been the national pastime in the early part of the 20th century, football quickly began to gain popularity in the years after World War II. The sport had been played at the collegiate level for decades, but it was in the 1950s that it began to take off as a professional sport.
The National Football League was established in 1920, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that it really started to flourish. In the years after World War II, the NFL added a number of new teams and began to expand across the country. The league’s popularity only continued to grow in the following decades, as football became America’s new favorite pastime.
Today, football is among the most popular sports in the United States. Millions of people tune in to watch NFL games every week, and the league is now one of the most lucrative in the world. The New York Giants and the New York Jets are two of the most popular teams in the NFL, and both have a huge following in New York. But more importantly, the league has become a global phenomenon. While the MLB has stayed state-side, the NFL now has international games in London and Mexico City, showing just how popular NFL football has become globally.
Basketball comes into its own in the 1960s
While baseball and football may have been the most popular sports in the early part of the 20th century, basketball began to come into its own in the 1960s. The game had been invented almost a full century earlier, in 1891, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that people took serious note of just how great the sport is.
In the years after World War II, college basketball became increasingly popular. The game was played at a high level by dozens of colleges across the country, and it wasn’t long before the sport began to take off professionally.
The National Basketball Association was founded in the 1940s, but it grew considerably in the 1960s and continued to do so throughout the 70s and 80s, and still grows today with the addition of multimillion-dollar television deals in Europe and Asia.
While college basketball may have been the driving force behind the sport’s popularity in the early part of the 20th century, it was the NBA that truly made basketball into the global phenomenon it is today. And while there are dozens of great teams across the league, the New York Knicks remain one of the most popular and iconic teams in the NBA.
Hockey makes a splash in the 1970s
While baseball, football, and basketball may have been the most popular sports in the United States for much of the 20th century, hockey began to make a splash in the 1970s. The game had been around for decades, but it wasn’t until the 70s that it really began to take off in the United States.
In the 1970s, a number of professional hockey leagues were established, including the World Hockey Association and the National Hockey League. These new leagues helped increase the sport’s popularity, and by the end of the decade, hockey was being played at a high level by thousands of people across the country.
Today, hockey is among the most popular sports in the United States. The NHL is now one of the country’s most popular professional sports leagues and continues to grow in popularity yearly.
Soccer slowly gains a foothold
While baseball, football, basketball, and hockey may have been the most popular sports in the United States for much of the 20th century, soccer slowly began to gain a foothold in the country in the late 20th century.
The sport had been played professionally in other countries for decades, in fact, Association Football has been around for a long time and was played at the 1900 Olympic Games. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that professional soccer leagues began to be established in the United States.
The North American Soccer League was founded in 1968, but it wasn’t until the late 1970s that the league really began to take off. In 1977, the New York Cosmos signed Brazilian superstar Pelé, and his signing helped increase the popularity of soccer in the United States.
Today, soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world, and while it still lags behind other sports in terms of popularity in the United States, it is slowly but surely gaining ground. And with the addition of Major League Soccer in 1996, soccer finally has a professional league that is truly on par with many other major professional leagues in the country.
US sports have grown exponentially since their inception. One thing that can be said for all of these sports is the difference in the level of play between then and now. We learn from our mistakes, and we learn by watching each other. In my opinion, the idea of game film was a significant evolution in sports. Suddenly, a player could see what other top players were doing without having to be present at the games and learn and, above all else, evolve.