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In Your Lifetime 5

In Your Lifetime – continued

Written for the KidsKnowIt Network by: Brandt Goble

In 1912, you could also go outside and play the sport of football, which had been invented in 1876 by Walter Camp. You would only have to wait until 1922 for the National Football League, the NFL, to really get rolling. Now it’s the most popular sport in America with the 2012 Super Bowl having over 111 million people tune in to watch. Maybe you didn’t know this, but in 1912 they played football in leather helmets. It wouldn’t be until 1939 that plastic football helmets, similar to what you see today, were introduced and 1948 before they started putting team logos on the side. If you wanted to protect your beautiful face while you played football, 1955 was the year for you.

A football team wearing their leather helmets
A football team in the early 1900s.

If baseball and football aren’t your game, basketball was well on its way to becoming the exciting game we know today, too. James Naismith’s creation of 1893 with peach baskets and balls was now much closer to the game we recognize in our new century. There were many professional basketball leagues, but it wasn’t until 1946 that the National Basketball League, the NBA, began.

Baseball, football and basketball make up the three most popular sports in the United States today, but there were still other great sports for the kids of 1912 to enjoy. Some of those included cycling, rowing, tennis, cricket, polo, rugby and even yachting. 1912 was also an Olympic year with the summer Olympics being held in Stockholm, Sweden. Jim Thorpe, who many consider the greatest athlete of all time, won the gold medal for both the pentathlon and the decathlon events during the Olympics. He also was an All-American in football and played professionally until he was 41 years old. He was also an incredible baseball and basketball player and an athlete with skill few, if any, have ever been able to compare to.

Jim Thorpe crosses the finish line
Jim Thorpe crossing the finish line in the Olympics.

In 1912 soccer was also very popular and in the years to come there would be more than one professional league in America but it wouldn’t be until 1968 that a soccer league found real success in America with the North American Soccer League, but it only lasted until 1984. Fortunately for soccer fans, a new league, Major League Soccer, MLS, was founded in 1996 and is still growing today.