Which Sports Were Popular During the 1930s?

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Baseball, boxing and track and field were three of the most popular sports during the 1930s, due largely to the stars that captivated the audiences of their respective sports. Interest in basketball, football, soccer and other major sports of today did not balloon in interest until decades later in the United States.

While sports took a dive during the Great Depression, baseball remained America’s most popular sport, helped by a lineup of greats that included Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio, who are still considered two of the greatest to ever play the game. The Yankees would dominate the decade, winning five World Series titles, including four consecutive titles from 1936 to 1939.

Boxing was marked by Joe Louis rebounding from an earlier 1936 defeat to knock out defending World Heavyweight Champion Max Schmelling in the first round of the 1938 title bout. The fight remains one of boxing’s most important and talked about fights ever. The pre-World-War-II fight also pitted the U.S. against Germany, symbolizing the fight between democracy and fascism.

In track and field, Jesse Owens electrified the audiences with an unforgettable performance at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, taking home four Gold Medals. Owens spent much of his time mentoring under-privileged youth, making him an appreciated figure and the increasing the popularity of the sport.