The evolution of sports

American sports are always subject to some type of change. Sports have played a vital role in the nation’s history and have had a significant impact on the culture today.

If one looked at sports today, compared to their beginnings, they would barely be recognizable with how different each is played.

Photo illustration by Rylie Foster


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Basketball was created in 1891 by James Naismith, according to The original game consisted of using peach baskets as hoops and a ball similar to a soccer ball, according to

Although basketball was around for more than 40 years, it wasn’t until 1946 that the NBA was created, according to The league started out with 11 franchises, compared to the 30 today.

The first 25 years of the NBA were controlled by several enormous big men. Teams just threw the ball up high to their big guy if they had one and let him tower over defenders and do the scoring. George Mikan, Bill Russell, and Wilt Chamberlain ruled the landscape in this era.

The 1970s marked the shift from dominant big men to commanding guard play. Julius Erving, aka Dr. J, was the lead innovator of this decade. “He revolutionized how the game was played by showing class and doing things with the basketball that had never been seen before,” Owens said. Erving scored more than 30,000 points during his combined ABA and NBA careers, according to ESPN.

“The decade of 2000-2010 marked a huge shift where basketball became less team- oriented and more player-oriented,” Higgins said. The Lakers won five of the 10 championships in this decade, according to “The NBA also saw a minor shift when many European players came over, like Dirk[(Nowitzki], and they are still influencing the game today,” Higgins said.

Basketball today has become very dependent on shooting the three ball. The Warriors started this change, and it has started to spread to almost every team within the past three years.


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The first recorded game of American football was played in 1869, and it featured Princeton and Rutgers, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It wasn’t until the 1880s, that Yale-educated Walter Camp developed the first set of rules to the game, transforming football away from its rugby like style, according to footballfoundation. org.

The player’s equipment has also evolved significantly over the past 100 years. Helmets didn’t become mandatory until 1939 and the modern facemask wasn’t invented until 1954, according to Bleacher Report. The game is still very physical but helmets have become much more reliable in terms of preventing of head injuries.

“There haven’t been that many players who have specifically changed how football is played, unlike other sports, but there have been several rule changes and equipment improvements recently,” junior Wyatt Owens said. Owens has followed the majority of all sports very intently.


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Baseball came about right before the Civil War and has grown to become known as America’s pastime. Professional baseball was built upon amateur leagues in the early years of the sport in the late 1800’s, according to

Baseball expanded largely in the years following World War One. A large scale gambling operation in baseball was brought to light in 1919 and in the nation’s largest city, a legend was also born, “The Great Bambino.”

Babe Ruth revolutionized how baseball was played with his prowess as a homerun hitter. “Ruth became one of the most popular icons in American history and everybody knows who he is,” Owens said. Ruth hit 714 homeruns during his career and is considered by many to be the best player of all time.

Baseball experienced another revolution when Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, according to ESPN. He was thefirst African-American to play baseball in a pro-league. “Robinson transcended the league and opened the doors for African Americans across the globe,” Owens said.

By the 1970’s, baseball had 24 teams, up from 16 the previous decade, according to Bleacher Report. Expansion meant more jobs, and it also brought in massive amounts of money from national TV contracts, according to ESPN.

“Baseball has been changed by several players but the fundamentals of the game have and will always remain the same,” Owens said.


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