Learn about Life in the 1920s

The public flocked to sporting events in record numbers to be entertained by a host of sporting celebrities, both male and female.

Baseball Teams before game

Media Attention Creates Sports Stars

Sports which grew and flourished in the nineteen twenties due to unprecedented publicity and promotion included baseball, tennis, golf, swimming, football and boxing. Newspapers, magazines, radio and movies all played a role in boosting the profile of sport and the sporting giants.

The 1920's was a transition period for many sports. Sports that had up until that time been largely amateur events caught the eye of promoters who could see an opportunity to capitalize and make money. The professional football league, golf tours, and tennis circuit were organized. Media publicity ensured large crowds and guaranteed the financial success of the ventures, allowing new stadiums to be built and providing steadily increasing salaries for the sports stars.

Money also became a factor in college sport where it was claimed that sports had also become commercialized to the point where the few were exploited to make a spectacle for the many and where the games became a source of financial revenue rather than a school of sport and exercise for the majority, and no longer focused on sportsmanship or moral development.


The sports stars of this era remain well known even today, such was their fame and the publicity they received for their amazing careers, endorsements or promotions. Very few will not have heard of Babe Ruth in baseball, Jack Dempsey in boxing, Johnny Weissmuller in swimming, Knute Rockne and Red Grange in football, Bill Tilden and Helen Wills in tennis, and Bobby Jones and Glenna Collett in golf.

The momentum these sports built up in the 1920's has ensured that these sports have endured in popularity to the present day. Present day sporting stars are often compared to the greats of the 1920's and great publicity attends the player who exceeds the records set 80 years ago, ensuring our old heroes are not forgotten. Pilgrimages are made to the various halls of fame where the 1920's giants are immortalized in timeless memorials that showcase their careers.

Annual Sports Highlights

  • 1920 in sports - National Football League formed; baseball's Negro National League formed; Babe Ruth sold to New York Yankees and hits 54 home runs, signalling the arrival of the lively ball era in baseball; Cleveland Indians' shortstop Ray Chapman is killed by a Carl Mays pitch; the Grand Prix de Paris horse race changes its name to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
  • 1921 in sports - The schooner Bluenose begins her undefeated career in racing, winning the International Fishermen's Trophy
  • 1922 in sports - First sub-one minute 100m freestyle swim
  • 1923 in sports - First 24 hours of Le Mans race; Ty Cobb breaks Honus Wagner's major league record for career hits
  • 1924 in sports - First Winter Olympic Games; in the Summer Olympics, Paavo Nurmi wins 5 golds in Athletics (track and field)
  • 1925 in sports - French Open in tennis opened to non-French players for the first time; first handball international between Germany and Belgium
  • 1926 in sports - Jack Dempsey loses his world heavyweight boxing title to Gene Tunney; Gertrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim the English channel
  • 1927 in sports - First Ryder Cup of golf
  • 1928 in sports - Women's Olympic athletics and gymnastics are held for the first time at the 1928 Summer Olympics; "Dixie" Dean scores 60 league goals in 39 matches as Everton F.C. win the Football League
  • 1929 in sports - Wally Hammond scores 905 runs at an average of 113.12 as England defeat Australia in The Ashes