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Sports in the 1960s – Mirroring American History

Sports have touched and have reached out to every facet of American life. We have seen dramatic wins, losses, championships, great plays, and not so great plays. Americans love sports and the athletics that play them and love to share and talk about these great moments.

The 1960s was a period of evolution and change in the sporting world. American sports certainly mirrored what was going on in American history. The 1960s was a decade full of emotional rebellion among the younger generation. The labor struggles, race relations, social innovations and commercialism that were evident daily in American society can be traced back to events that occurred in the sporting world.

Athletics began wanting to get highly paid for their sporting talent and get rich by playing their specific sport. This was similar to the attitude of the younger generation reflected in the lifestyles in the 1960s. Athletes began invading the world of commercialism by selling their products through their sponsors and making even more money. This made amateur athletics want to turn professional even earlier. And for the first time in the 1968 Olympics, amateur and professional athletes competed together.

Union labor struggles were evident in the sporting world with athletes hiring union leaders to represent them in their team dealings. Also, racial issues were evident where black athletes would use their fame to express their views against racism. We also saw the hiring of Bill Russell as the first black head basketball coach of the Boston Celtics as they won their 8th consecutive championship.

However, despite all the struggles and commercialism evident in the sporting world as well as in American History, the 1960s saw some great sports performances and created some great memories. Athletes like Wilma Rudolph, Jack Nicklaus, and Wilt Chamberlain – amongst others – were at the top of their respective sport. We also saw great teams such as the Boston Celtics and Green Bay Packers. Sports – bringing all of this together.

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