Happy 240th Birthday America!! As we celebrate the birth of our amazing nation this weekend, let us ponder for a moment what life would be like if the USA never existed. Obviously there are many technological and political ramifications to such a notion. What may not be so obvious is the impact the stars and stripes have had on the world of sports. Below I have compiled a list of five sports that would arguably never been invented if it wasn’t for the United States.
Basketball was created by Presbyterian minister James Naismith in the year 1861. Naismith was working as a gym teacher at a YMCA in Springfield Massachusetts. He wanted to create a game that was safe and could be played indoors during the harsh Massachusetts winters. If you do any research on Naismith you’ll find that he was actually Canadian. When creating the game he used games he played as a kid as inspiration. In one game, he and his friends would take a rock and put it on a bolder and try to hit it off with smaller rocks. There was also a game where a player would take a rugby ball and throw it into a box. Even though these games impacted the creation of basketball, the game itself was created in America, so I would categorize it as an American made sport.
The first game was actually played using a soccer ball and two peach baskets. As you can probably imagine, the game was quite different from the basketball we all know today. For one thing, players were not allowed to bounce the ball or run the ball. They had to throw it from where they caught the ball. If you want to read all 13 rules in the original game, click here.
Upon its creation, it spread quickly throughout the country, gaining popularity in most northern states and parts of Canada. It wasn’t until the year 1948-1949 about 88 years after the creation of the game that America had one cohesive professional league known as the NBA. Today, it is reported that there are over 50 countries around the world that play basketball.
While snowboarding may not be the first sport that comes to mind when you think of America, it is most definitely an American made sport. The first “snowboard” was created in 1964 by a man named Sherman Poppen who was looking for a way to surf on snow so he created the aptly named “snurfer ” (or snow surfer ). Some of our more seasoned readers may have even owned this product that first hit shelves in 1965. Over the years many people are accredited with making improvements to the Snurfer to give us the boards we have today. The first modern snowboarding sporting event was held in April of 1981 in Leadville, Colorado. By 1988 Snowboarding was an Olympic sport, attracting athletes from all over the world to “shred the slopes”
If America never existed, there may be other types of car racing around the world. We can probably all agree that cars would be created by other countries and it’s only natural to want to drive cars fast. But I can almost assure you that without the United States of America NASCAR, as we know it, would not be in existence. The story of the origins of NASCAR is actually pretty interesting. The legend is that the first NASCAR drivers were actually bootleggers during the 20’s and 30’s . The sport actually arose out of the need to modify cars to be faster than police cars. It’s a well-known fact that one of NASCAR’s first Hall of Famers, Junior Johnson, who won over 50 races in his NASCAR career, was a bootlegger. He claimed that this experience gave him an advantage over other drivers.
In 1948 the NASCAR we know today was born in a hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida with long time stock-car promoter Bill France Sr. as its founding father.
Obviously, if I’m talking about American sports, I have to talk about football. As you can probably guess, football is a game that evolved from the game of rugby. What may surprise you is that the origins of American football also have a lot to do with the other football or what we would call soccer. Many people would site November 6, 1869 as the Birthdate of football in the United States. On that day, in 1869 Rutgers University took on Princeton in a game that we would say today resembled soccer more than anything else. It would take until 1880 for football to be played in a manner that we would recognize. This is when Walter Camp, who would later be known as the founding father of football was able to make some major changes to the football rules such as having a set number of players and a line of scrimmage. The first professional football league was known as American Professional Football Association, later named the NFL which was created in 1922.
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about America’s past time. I talked about the creation of the sport in my last post so I’m just going to give a brief overview. Baseball was invented in 1846 by Alexander Cartwright. If you want to know more, click here.
While there were many different baseball leagues throughout the years, the modern MLB wasn’t created until 1969 in Cincinnati, OH. Now baseball is played by people from China to Australia.
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That’s it for this post. Be sure to follow me on twitter @Fanaticsport and like my Facebook page. If you like what you read, subscribe using the sidebar. Happy 4th everyone. Be safe and God bless America !!