As events unfolded globally during the 1960s, sports events provided a vivid depiction of global happenings. Olympic sprinter Wilma Rudolph became a pioneering figure for gender equality with her record-setting performances at the 1960 Olympics, while Muhammad Ali represented conscientious objectors and highlighted daily life struggles for African-Americans. On the football field Joe Namath made history while on Tokyo hosted its 1964 Summer Olympics and showcased Japan as an economic power.
Sports were an integral part of American life during the 1960s, with racial tensions running high across the nation and many Americans turning to sports for relief from daily problems. Major events of this decade include Super Bowl I, merger between NFL and AFL in 1966, and Celtics winning NBA championship for 9 consecutive years.
Bill Mazeroski of the Pittsburgh Pirates became the first person to end a World Series Game 7 with a home run, helping his team secure victory and earn the series championship. Additionally, two franchises began play – New York Mets and Houston Colt.45s were launched that same year; and Frank Robinson became the first ever American League hitter to claim both batting and RBI titles as well as win both league championships simultaneously and become World Series champ in 1962.
In the 1960s, television was used to show the inaugural National Hockey League (NHL) hockey game between New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres, won 4-1 by New York. Meanwhile, Kentucky were upset by all-black Texas Western in an NCAA championship game upset.
The 1960s marked a period of great success for Canadian figure skaters Barbara Wagner and Robert Paul. After winning bronze at Cortina d’Ampezzo in 1956 and placing sixth at worlds the following year, they went on to be Olympic champions in Rome – marking Canada’s inaugural gold medal victory! Meanwhile in tennis Margaret Court won her fourth Australian Open and her maiden Wimbledon championship respectively; Floyd Patterson then defeated Ingemar Johansson to capture heavyweight championship, becoming one of the few defenders to retain his crown in boxing; an historic feat!