sport history

JFK grew up in a household devoted to athletic activity. He swam and played golf and football for the junior varsity at Harvard and tried his hand at boxing. 

In later years, he remained an accomplished golfer and, despite chronic back pain, he continued to enjoy football, tennis, and softball with family and friends, and to sail Victura, his 26-foot sloop in the Nantucket Sound. 

As President, JFK challenged the nation to become more active. He challenged the Marines to walk 50 miles in 20 hours, and high school students to earn awards from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness. 

Here’s a clip of JFK playing football at the Kennedy family home in Hyannisport, from home movie footage taken by friend Paul Fay. Video from the JFK Library. 

We’re celebrating the centennial of JFK’s birth throughout 2017 and this month’s #JFK100 theme is “candid photos.Join us for more JFK100 every week!

JULY 26: Patty Sheehan wins the U.S. Women’s Open (1992)

On July 26, 1992, lesbian golfer Patty Sheehan was officially declared the winner of that year’s U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship!

Patty officially retired from golf in 2006, but she remains one of the sport’s legends. She gave an interview with ESPN about life post-retirement and post-coming out in 2015, which you can read here!  

Patty was born in Middlebury, Vermont on October 27, 1956. She was an athletic prodigy right from the start and ranked as one of the top junior snow skiers in U.S. by the time she was 13-years-old, but she eventually started focusing her energy on golf when she entered high school. After graduating high school, Patty went on to attend the University of Nevada and San Jose State University, where she would earn a place in the Collegiate Golf Hall of Fame.

She started her professional career in 1980 and won her first major championship in 1983. The 1992 U.S. Women’s Open was her fourth major championship win and it paved the way for her entrance into the LPGA Hall of Fame a year later. In 1994, Patty won the U.S. Women’s Open once again and also became the very first golfer to ever win both the U.S. and the British Open in the same year! Patty was one of the first professional LPGA players to come out as a lesbian and has since married her wife, Rebecca Gaston, and the two have adopted two children together.

Mexico revives 3,000-year-old ancient ball game - BBC News
A championship is being played in Mexico to try to revive a 3,000-year-old ball game.


The finals of a revived 3,000-year-old ball game have been played in the Mexican city of Teotihuacan

Organisers have been trying to bring back the game, known as Ullamaliztli in Mexico, because of its ancient cultural and religious significance.

The game was played across Central America before being banned by the Spanish conquistadors.

The tournament, only the second since 2006, is being played by ten teams from across Mexico.

According to ancient texts the ball game was seen as a struggle between light and darkness and provided the energy to keep humanity going.

One of the best preserved ball courts can be found - with stone rings to throw the ball through - in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula

Today the game is played by teams of seven players, who knock a heavy solid rubber ball up and down a narrow pitch, using their hips rather than their feet.

Giant ball courts can still be seen in ruins across the region.

In ancient times losers of the game were often sacrificed to the Gods*, but this year organisers opted for a knockout tournament instead.

* There is iconography and mythology related to the ballgame that involve sacrifice, but there is little evidence that people were sacrificed for having played this game.


Kathrine Switzer, first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon, is racing it this year

  • Women haven’t exactly crossed the finish line when it comes to gender equality, but we’ve certainly come a long way since Kathrine Switzer first hit the pavement at the Boston Marathon.
  • It was 1967 when Switzer, then a 20-year-old journalism student at Syracuse University, became the first woman to officially enter the historic marathon.
  • At the time, women were woefully marginalized in the world of athletics. 
  • According to CNN, Switzer had been training with the men’s cross-country team at Syracuse when she decided to enter the race, with little encouragement from her coach. 
  • In her memoir, Switzer recalled the Syracuse coach telling her the 26-mile marathon was too long for a “fragile woman.”
  • During the marathon in ‘67, race director Jock Semple chased Switzer down and ripped her bib off of her.
  • Now, after running 39 marathons, 70-year-old Switzer will run in this year’s Boston Marathon — wearing the same bib number an angry man tried to rip from her 50 years ago. Read more (4/17/17 11:26 AM)

Adolf Hitler planned to use the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin 1936 Jesse Owens arrived in Berlin to compete for the United States in the Summer Olympics. Adolf Hitler was using the games to show the world a resurgent Nazi Germany. Nazi propaganda promoted concepts of “Aryan racial superiority” and depicted ethnic Africans as inferior. American Owens countered this by winning four gold medals.

“My grandfather at the 1955 motorcycle race at Dachstein, Austria”