When it comes to sporting spectacles, it is fair to say that the top-end of any sport has evolved from the bare-knuckle brawling of yore by a long chalk. However, not every change in the world of sport has been for the better. There are times when we get caught up in politically correct sensibilities which take away from the excitement and passion that should be at the very heart of any game. Fortunately, every time this happens there are still people who remember what made a sport worth watching in the first place and they tend to come out fighting! So let’s take a look at some classic sporting spectacles over the last 100 years and where they stand today…
Boxing: Let the Fights Begin!
This one is at the top of the list for a reason. Boxing has been the epitome of sporting spectaculars for generations and it still is today. If a sport inspires a movie such as ‘The Fighter’, then you know it captures the attention of the public like no other. You also know it has a history that goes back a long, long way. The Ancient Greeks loved it a bit of boxing and it was a regular event at the Olympic Games. However, the concept of modern sport is widely credited to Englishman Jack ‘The Man’ Churchill. He was a bare-knuckle boxer (no, not that kind of bare-knuckle!) who fought a series of fights in the late 19th century. Churchill was eventually banned from the sport when he kept injuring his opponents to a point where they could not fight again. As a result, he was a big advocate of the wearing of boxing gloves in the modern sense.
Soccer: From ‘Football’ to ‘Soccer’ – For the Win!
The game of football has evolved somewhat in the last 100 years – taking on a new name in the process. The name ‘soccer’ was coined in the United States after the First World War as a way of separating the game from the ‘other football’ otherwise known as American Football. The term ‘soccer’ is thought to have originated among British immigrants in America who were themselves adopting the name from their sport of ‘Rugby Football’! To get the ball rolling, American Football is the game that is most comparable in the States, but soccer has now become a much more global sport. The roots of football are very firmly planted in British soil and it is here that we can see most of its evolution. The ‘Football Association’ (not to be confused with the ‘FIFA’ that organizes the World Cup!) was formed in 1863 in London. Although the rules for the sport were still being tweaked, football had come a long way from the days of hacking and kicking the ball as a team sport.
Basketball: Slam Dunking for a Century!
This sport has been around for over a century, yet it is still going strong today. Basketball evolved as a sport from several different backgrounds, with the most famous being the ‘game of Hoops’ played in the YMCA in Massachusetts. However, basketball was also borrowed from ‘Shouting’ (a Native American sport) and the ‘Indoor game’ played in the UK. The game was formalized in the late 1890s and became an official sport in 1904. As with football and soccer, basketball has evolved in many ways over the last 100 years, particularly with the introduction of the famous ‘dunk’ shot!
Hockey: Stick to the Basics, Boys!
This is one of the oldest sports in the world and was played as early as the 12th century in the UK. Although the modern concept of hockey was formalized in India in the 19th century, it was played in Europe long before that. The word ‘Hockey’ is a derivative of the word ‘Hugh’ which means to strike or hit. Hockey is the only sport on this list to have a very specific piece of equipment as a focal point for the evolution of the sport. The hockey stick evolved as a way to get more power behind the swing of the ball and it did just that!
Horse Racing: Get Your Tote on!
Horse Racing is a sport with ancestry that dates back to the Ancient Egyptians. However, it is believed that the modern sport of horse racing has its roots in the 16th century in England. While the sport has changed a great deal in its long history, the one thing that has remained constant is the necessity for speed. The sport of horse racing has always relied on the thrill of the chase and the need for speed and the jockeys have always been the ones to make it happen!
The list of sporting spectacles over the last 100 years could go on for pages, but these are the ones that have truly stood the test of time. They are all very different in terms of the sport itself, yet all have the common theme of providing their spectators with a thrilling sporting event. These are the sporting spectacles that have and will continue to, capture the imagination of spectators across the world and we cannot wait to see what the next century of sports has in store!