The Sports Show

Sports are a part of everyday life and culture. Millions of people of all ages play and watch sports, from Little League baseball and cross-country skiing to the Olympics and professional games. Fans, governments, and businesses invest billions of dollars in sports. Sports are the subject of a seemingly infinite number of images in newspapers and magazines and on Web sites and televisions. They are glorified as heroic and demonized as intellectually regressive. They are part of personal and collective memory, marking moments in life, time, and even history.

“The Sports Show” explores how sports became a way of life through the power of images, beginning in the 19th century with the development of organized sports and the invention of photography. As seen in this gallery, sports began as leisure activities photographed by participants and photojounalists. Audiences of the time experienced sports as live cultural events tied to education, local communities, and personal leisure.

Today audiences experience sports primarily through images broadcast on a mass media network. Spotlighting some of the most compelling images from the past hundred and fifty years, “The Sports Show” reveals how dramatic images transformed age-old leisure activities into mass spectacles. These images do more than just show sports: sports stars become pop culture icons; politics and race become part of the games; and millions of people are placed at the center of the athletic action.

First women’s intercollegiate basketball game, University of California—Berkeley versus Stanford University.
Leica introduces a handheld camera that revolutionizes sports photography.
Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act amended to prohibit sex discrimination in schools and collegiate athletic programs that receive federal funding.
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