Sports in the 60s
There are many memorable things about the 1960s. People will think of the music, the activism, and the politics, but one thing people may not immediately think of are the sports of the 60s. However, sports from generations ago still have an incredible impact on American society today.
Every February, millions of Americans sit down in front of their televisions to watch the biggest sporting event in all the United States: the Super Bowl. This championship game coming next year is going to be played for the fifty-second time. When one does the math, they’ll see that this huge event in sports started in the 60s.
Many things have changed since the inaugural Super Bowl. It was played for the first time a year after the American Football League and the National Football League merged into one league (the National Football League), and each became their own conference (the NFC and the AFC). The first Super Bowl featured the Green Bay Packers as the NFC champions playing against the Kansas City Chiefs as the AFC champions. The Packers beat the Chiefs 35-10, and have now won a total of 4 Super Bowls. Super Bowl LI, the most recent Super Bowl, was played by the NFC’s Atlanta Falcons and the AFC’s New England Patriots, in which the Patriots completed one of the most electrifying comebacks in sports history as they won in overtime 34-28. This was the Patriots ninth time playing in the Super Bowl, more than any other team in history.
Also memorable about the Super Bowl is the halftime show. These days, the show is a performance by one of the biggest names in music. Most recently, Justin Timberlake was announced as the 2018 headline. However, the first Super Bowl halftime show featured not a popular singer, but rather two marching bands, a solo trumpet player, and the Bell Rocket Air Man.
Many of the prominent, well-known baseball players of today are the pitchers. However, before the 1960s, batters ruled the game. In the 60s, much of the talent came from pitchers, and games started to be more about the strikeouts and less about the home runs. The Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax averaged 9.51 strikeouts per game, and though he retired in 1966, he struck out 1,910 batter during the decade. The Cardinals’ Bob Gibson, though only averaging 7.62 strikeouts a game, struck out more batters than any other pitchers in the 1960s, with 2,071 strikeouts during the decade as well. He also was the leading World Series strikeout pitcher, and struck out 17 batters in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series.
Another major sporting event, not just in the US, but in the entire world, is the Olympic Games. Nine years ago, the 2008 Olympic Games were held in Beijing, China. The 1964 Olympics marked the first games held in an Asian country; they were held in Tokyo, Japan.
Soccer, known as football in most countries, has been popular throughout the world long before it reached the US. It was played in the US recreationally, but there was no professional league before the 1960s. In 1967, two professional leagues formed in the US, and they merged a year later to form the North American Soccer League. Though the league no longer exists today, there are still many professional teams in the US, including the US Women’s National Team, which is currently ranked first in the world.
Many changes happened in sports in the 1960s, and we are still seeing the echoes of them today.