The 1920s practically began 100 years ago, and that’s a lot of time for sports to evolve over the years. Some of the most popular sports have been around for much longer than 100 years, but were they as popular during the era of prohibition? Now drinking and sports go hand in hand, but back in the 1920s sports fans could only enjoy nothing but soft drinks. These are the most popular sports in the 1920s.
It has long been considered America’s favorite game, and during the 1920s baseball was as popular as it has ever been. Not only was it an enjoyable spectator sport with multiple minor leagues, but lots of people actually used to play it too. There were plenty of recreational leagues, much more than there are today.
Community teams played across a lot of the country, and it was pretty common for young folks to play games after being at work all day. There was no drinking allowed, so people seemingly turned to exercise to pass the time in the evenings instead. Considering baseball is such a popular sport in the USA, the participation numbers are nowhere near as high today compared to the 1920s.
Football was pretty well established, but the main focus was on the college game. Local football teams would form and test themselves against some of the better college teams of the decade such as Yale. The teams would travel by train around their local areas to see if they were up to the challenge of playing the best college teams. Some of the football stadiums built during the 1920s remain in use today at Duke University and the University of Carolina.
Basketball was growing as a sport, and like football, it was primarily a college sport. The facilities were nothing much better than school gymnasiums, but North Carolina began to establish itself as one of the superpowers. Conferences were being created, and rivalries were forming.
Teams like Duke and North Carolina were just beginning what would turn into an eternal rivalry on the basketball court. Basketball had been invented 30 years before the beginning of the 1920s, but once it took off at the college level, it really became a national sport.
Perhaps one sport that has really become less popular now than it was 100 years ago is boxing. Baseball isn’t as popular as it once was, but it isn’t really suffering from a huge lack of interest, but boxing has been struggling to attract the mainstream. In the 1920s that really wasn’t a problem thanks mainly to Jack Dempsey’s success in the heavyweight division.
Dempsey was the working class hero who came good after achieving the ‘American Dream.’ He had risen through the ranks to become the champion of the world before marrying a movie star and making himself one of the most famous faces of the 1920s. The only real difference in boxing 100 years ago was that the gloves were much lighter, which meant more damage could be dished out with each blow to the opponent.
It’s funny that the most popular sports of the 1920s have largely remained some of the most popular sports in the United States. They were really established then, and the love for them only grew once prohibition ended as people were able to enjoy their favorite sports with some drinks.