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The Roaring '20s: Sports' most radical changes occurred 100 years ago

The ‘20s arrived at midnight. Can you believe it?

Ten years since Nick Collison made two foul shots with 4.5 seconds left to give the Thunder an 87-86 victory over Utah and cement the Ford Center as the hip place to count down to New Year’s.

Twenty years since Y2K landed in the wake of an OU-Ole Miss Independence Bowl.

Thirty years since the OU-Tulsa All-College Tournament final was staged in front of a sold-out Myriad on New Year’s Eve.

A decade is a long time. Many changes occur in 10 years. What will the ‘20s hold? I don’t know. Been a long time since I had 20/20 vision.

Will Lincoln Riley still be coaching the Sooners? Will Mike Gundy still be coaching the Cowboys? Will Shai Gilgeous-Alexander still be sporting Thunder blue? Will the Big 12 still exist? Will tackle football still exist? Good questions all.

A decade can drastically change landscapes. Who in 1989 foresaw Sooner fans going ga-ga over a bowl trip to Shreveport? Who in 1999 foresaw the NBA taking Oklahoma by storm? Who in 2009 foresaw OSU basketball regretting it ever expanded Gallagher Iba-Arena?

So it’s not whether anything will change; it’s what will change over a decade’s time? And nothing taught us that like the original ‘20s. The 1920s. The Roaring ‘20s.

One hundred years ago launched the sports revolution. The 1920s ushered in the most change in sports history.

In 1920, the New York Yankees were a baseball franchise that never had won the American League. By 1930, they were the gold standard of sports franchises and remain so.

In 1920, the National Football League had yet to play its first game. By 1930, the NFL included the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants and Chicago Bears.

In 1920, radio broadcasts of sporting events had not yet begun. The 1921 World Series was broadcast on radio, and the horse was out of the barn.

In 1920, professional basketball did not exist and college basketball was no big deal. By 1930, the Harlem Globetrotters were touring Middle America.

In 1919, Babe Ruth was the only major league hitter with more than 12 home runs. In 1930, a third of major leaguers with at least 330 at-bats (39 players) hit more than 12 home runs.

In 1920, the most famous tennis player in the world was Norman Brookes (I had to look it up). Over the next decade, Bill Tilden became a star for the ages and Helen Willis made fans take note of women’s tennis

In 1920, the Summer Olympics were canceled for the second straight Olympiad, but by 1928 the Games were building epic stadiums (the Los Angeles Coliseum), gold medalists were becoming Hollywood stars (Johnny Weissmuller) and commercialism had infiltrated the quadrennial gathering of Earth’s greatest athletes (Coca-Cola became an official sponsor).

In the 1920s, golf’s first superstars arrived, Walter Hagen on the professional side, Bobby Jones on the snooty amateur side.

In the 1920s, the industrial revolution and economic boon and media explosion made sports a pastime for the masses as many Americans had more leisure time.

Every decade since has brought much change, but no change as profound as the original ‘20s.

Now comes a new decade. Change is guaranteed in the 2020s. Here’s hoping they roar.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at btramel@oklahoman.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

Related Photos
<strong>Babe Ruth, shown in this 1929 photo, helped make the New York Yankees the gold standard of professional baseball. [AP Photo/File]</strong>

Babe Ruth, shown in this 1929 photo, helped make the New York Yankees the gold standard of professional baseball. [AP Photo/File]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ceda95cb9d3d57d8b9f612f081efade5.jpg" alt="Photo - Babe Ruth, shown in this 1929 photo, helped make the New York Yankees the gold standard of professional baseball. [AP Photo/File] " title=" Babe Ruth, shown in this 1929 photo, helped make the New York Yankees the gold standard of professional baseball. [AP Photo/File] "><figcaption> Babe Ruth, shown in this 1929 photo, helped make the New York Yankees the gold standard of professional baseball. [AP Photo/File] </figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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