I have officially butted my way into a blog v. blog debate currently between our friends at Snatch Sports and Two Big Boobs. Technically, I was invited by a writer at Snatch, but had I not been I might have just posted my own answer anyways. Why? Because I’m that much of an ass…
Here is this weeks question: What sports event has had the biggest social impact on humankind?
To answer this question I think its important to fully understand what is being asked. There are a number of events that have heavily influenced modern sports, but in order to answer this question one must understand that it is asking for a sports event that had a social impact on humankind.
Those are three very difficult terms to link together, since most of the famous sports events had great influence over sports (not humankind as a whole).
My answer to this question is one of the most famous events in history. I know it seems cliche, but sometimes the most adequate answer is the most obvious choice.
Remember the Sonics has chosen Jackie Robinson breaking the MLB Color Barrier in 1947.
When reviewing Jackie Robinson’s Major League Baseball debut, one must remember that his actions did not affect only baseball. Instead, they made an astounding social impact on the entire country.
Since the late nineteenth century, Major League Baseball (and a host of other professional baseball organizations) held an unspoken agreement to exclude blacks from play. These type of agreements were born out of both racist beliefs from league officials and racial tensions throughout America.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Major League Baseball operated without any black players for over fifty years (1890-1946), prompting black baseball players to create their own professional baseball league; the Negro Leagues. This league featured some of the most famous baseball players of the era, including stars such as Satchel Paige, Hank Aaron, and Josh Gibson.
In 1945 Jackie Robinson played for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues. His talent was noticed quickly, however, and towards the end of that season he was interviewed by Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey. Rickey signed Robinson to play for a Dodgers’ minor league affiliate, but Robinson soon climbed the ranks to the Major Leagues.
On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers, effectively breaking the Major League Baseball color barrier.
The rest of his career is irrelevant to this debate, although he did play All-Star caliber baseball, won an MVP Award, and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. What mattered the most concerning Jackie Robinson was his first game played in April of 1947. This was a sports event that held a social impact on all of humankind.
The NBA soon followed suit, breaking its color barrier in 1950, while the National Football League, whose color barrier had been broken years before, also saw an increase in the number of black athletes in its organization.
Robinson’s career has been recounted in books, movies, and magazines. His actions provided commentary on the racial relations in mid-twentieth century America, and also provided a rallying cry for blacks as they sought equality in the impending Civil Rights Movement. Consider that his first game played was so significant that it is listed in the History Channel’s timeline of “Black History Milestones.”
His legacy is immortal, his story is timeless, and his No.42 has been universally retired in Major League Baseball (sorry Mo Vaughn).
In my opinion, Jackie Robinson breaking the Major League Baseball color barrier is easily the sports event that has had the greatest social impact on humankind.
Click Here to View Snatch’s Response – Curt Flood and the Beginning of Free Agency
Click Here to View Two Big Boob’s Response – Jesse Owens’ Performance at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
Please Help By Voting on Which Event You Think is Most Significant!