Sports ban. The bans were unofficial, resting

Sports have always been political, similar to almost every element of society. However, Sports in America, in particular, have always been closely connected from race relations and the push for equality. Sports mean more than just what happens on the field. This exhibition reveals the essence of African American contributions and challenges to modern American culture and politics. For the most part, up until the 1940s, Blacks were largely banned from sports, but what most people do not understand is the actual extent to this ban, which is very rarely spoken of. Back in the early days of professional sports, there was a sort of unspoken agreement regarding the ban. The bans were unofficial, resting only on the thought that Black athletes would simply understand that these professional leagues weren’t meant for them. Even if a Black athlete showed great skill and promise, superior to that of white people, they were still segregated from the activities. One example of this was horse racing. Early on in the history of horse racing, black jockeys were dominant. However, over time they were slowing filtered out of the sport, all the way up until the point where in 1920, the last black jockey appeared in a horse race. Another example of this was in football. In the early days, Black football players proved they had tremendous skill, but only a very small few were ever able to make it to the American Professional Football Association, and they were all eventually removed from the league completely by 1934. Because they were excluded from nearly all major professional sports, African Americans formed their own independent leagues to demonstrate their skill and prove that they could perform at a high level. Among the most notable of these were the Negro Leagues, formed during the era of segregation, since Blacks were still banned from Major League Baseball. Arguably the most famous figure to pass through the Negro Leagues was Jackie Robinson, who integrated the MLB in 1947. Robinson’s journey to becoming the first Black player in the MLB, however, was a very bumpy road. He had to deal with an extreme amount of discrimination and hate because of what he was doing, however, even though he was “hated” so much, when he eventually started playing, the stadiums were overflowing. Also, when it is considered that all of this took place nearly twenty years prior to the Civil Rights Act in 1964, this was truly an unforgettable progression. Without Jackie Robinson’s bravery and nobleness, it is hard to tell how much longer it have taken for integration to happen. He was an inspiration for African Americans nationwide and he opened doors for Blacks to take the next step towards integration, not just in sports, but in every facet of society. However, Jackie Robinson was not the only African American making major advancements regarding the integration of sports during this time. For example, African American professional boxer, Joe Louis was making a name for himself in the boxing world, his most memorable achievement being when he defeated the reigning heavyweight champion, Max Schmeling, in 1938. Another extremely important event during this time were the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. This Olympic Games specifically was extremely important for Black Americans and the United States as a whole. Jesse Owens became and American hero after winning four Olympic gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay, and the long jump. Being that these Olympics were only a few prior to World War II, Owens became “a symbol of America’s strength over Nazi Germany” and a major inspiration to Blacks considering he was the first African American to do something like that for the United States in the Olympics. When the United States entered World War II in the early 1940s, this opened many doors for African American athletes in America. As a result of manpower shortages due to the war, many sports ended up integrating simply due to the fact that these sports needed players. Overall, the war was a time where blacks as a whole earned many new rights, like having been admitted into the American Labor Federation, as well as the creation of the NAACP and the Congress of Racial Equality. Before the war, Black athletes on mostly otherwise strictly white teams led a, “dual existence, as figures simultaneously loved and hated, or “cheered on Saturday and despised the other six days a week … all suffered racial abuse and discrimination at the hands of opponents, teammates, fans, coaches, the student body, and the wider establishment of sports writers and bowl committees.”.