For as long as humans have been on this earth, there has always been some form of sporting competition. In fact, the history of sporting contests goes back a lot further than what many people think given that the first-ever Olympic Games were recorded in 776 BC. Back then, sport was a lot more high-stakes, think Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus in Gladiator and the thumbs down gesture. The Olympics had a long hiatus after that, however, having only been revived in 1896, and was very different from its previous form.
As for the history of sport in America, well, that too has changed beyond recognition since all the country’s favorite sports began being played in the 1800s. With this in mind, it won’t come as a surprise to learn that sport in the United States is almost unrecognizable from where it was 200 years ago. In reality, almost everything about sport has changed over that time.
In the Beginning
Take basketball, for example, the brainchild of Dr. James Naismith in 1891. Initially, Naismith was just out to create an indoor game that offered fewer injuries than classic American gridiron football. He eventually came up with a rough version of what we know today as basketball.
At the time, however, Naismith originally planned for nine players on each side with one point awarded for every basket made. That obviously differs quite a lot from the five-on-five three-pointer high octane shootouts that we enjoy today in the NBA league. NBA.com’s official rulebook illustrates just how much has changed since Naismith’s first version of the sport.
24 YEARS AGO TODAY
Michael Jordan walked into the Bullets locker room before a playoff game, smoking a cigar & said: “Who’s going to check me tonight?”
MJ then did this in the win:
55 PTS (20 of Bulls last 23)
22/35 FG, 10/10 FT, 1/2 3PT pic.twitter.com/KDMi22jErd
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) April 27, 2021
In general, that number of participants and the scoring system is the common denominator of all the changes in sports in America over the last two centuries. Indeed, these sports have been fine-tuned in order to make them more appealing to the general public. It goes without saying, but more eyes mean more money, something that was first realized in the 1900s when America’s famous leagues were first formed.
The League of Extraordinary Gentleman
It was back in 1901 that Major League Baseball was formed which was followed by the NHL in 1917, the NFL in 1920, and the NBA in 1946. Having now successfully done this, the organizers of these various leagues had a platform to begin generating large sums of money as sport slowly started to become professional.
One thing led to another and before you knew it, all the major broadcast networks in America wanted to air the action to the nation. Following that and what seemed like in the blink of an eye, big business wanted in as well. Salaries towards the end of the 20th century would begin to skyrocket which in turn ensured that the product on show improved immeasurably after the 21st century.
Indeed, the dream for most fanatics growing up was to be a professional sporting star. The mindset of a generation changed as commitment and dedication rose to levels never seen before. The biggest benefactors of this newly found discipline weren’t only the athletes who became millionaires before 20, but also the public at large who were treated to weekly masterclasses, whether it was on the court, park, field, or the rink.
Technology Changes Sport Forever
Mercifully, there were still options for the majority of those who couldn’t cut it at the top as companies like EA Sports began to make video games based on the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB. Thanks to the global demand and the dream of playing a sport you love for money, fans at home could now emulate their heroes on a PlayStation, Xbox, or Desktop by playing these groundbreaking games that would go on to be released annually.
Looking back, those pioneer games in the early 1990s were quite clunky. But fast forward to 2021 and gamers can feel the adrenaline surge as they run through for a touchdown or hit a home run given how realistic they have become. Additionally, the devices have also got a lot smaller which means gamers can now use their smartphones to play them.
Smartphones in particular continue to revolutionize the way we see sport and this list of the best ones compiled by innov8tiv.com, breaks down how far we’ve come in terms of their astonishing capability. Indeed, perhaps the biggest trend of the last ten years is being able to bet on whatever sport is currently on the go no matter where in the world it is taking place.
The long and short of it is that the world is quite literally at one’s fingertips when it comes to betting on sports online nowadays. Sbo.net’s explanation of how simple it is to sign up for an online sportsbook in the United States demonstrates both the ease and popularity of sports betting that fans have come to know. The list of the best US betting sites in 2021 shows how much variety there is now, and how user-friendly the industry has become. An example of this is the popularity that sports information companies are gaining, offering expert handicapping services. Doc’s Sports services, for example, are the gold standard in the sports information industry. This is a far cry from a century or two ago, where bettors could only place their wagers in person and on a limited range of sports.
— NFL (@NFL) February 8, 2021
With all the added bonuses connected to modern sport these days, one can say without fear of being corrected that life as a fan in the 21st century is considerably better than it was 200 years ago. With this in mind, what will professional sport look like in another 200 years? Answers on a postcard, please.