What Sports Were Popular During the Release of The Wizard of Oz?

Introduction

This MGM fantasy musical from 1939 has become a staple in the standard of popular culture in the United States for multiple generations. It follows the narrative of Dorothy Gale, a Kansas farm girl who is transported to the mythical Land of Oz, and it is based on the popular children’s novel written by L. Frank Baum. The Wizard of Oz is widely regarded as one of the most impressive examples of cinematic wizardry due to the brilliant Technicolor renderings of the film’s eye-popping visual effects, elaborate costumes, and intricately detailed sets.

When Was the Release of The Wizard of Oz?

  1. Frank Baum’s novel of the same name served as the inspiration for the musical film The Wizard of Oz, which was produced in the United States in 1939. Even though it was not an instantaneous commercial or cultural success, it went on to become one of the most iconic family films of all time. It was one of the first films chosen in 1989 for inclusion in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress because it was considered “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” to the film history of the United States of America.

Popular Sports During the Release of The Wizard of Oz

Tennis

  • The year was dominated by first-timers in the men’s tennis tournaments. In their respective careers, John Bromwich won the Australian Open, Don McNeill won the French Open, and Bobby Riggs won Wimbledon. This victory was each of their first grand slam trophies. This year, Bobby Riggs not only won the British Open, but he also took home the trophy for the United States Open. In the years that followed, each of the three players was able to round off their careers as multiple grand slam champions by winning an additional title. At the age of 55, Bobby Riggs achieved even more notoriety in 1973 by competing in matches known as “The Battle of the Sexes” against two of the best female players in the world. These matches were dubbed “The Battle of the Sexes” by the media.

Golf

  • Ralph Guldahl, Byron Nelson, Dick Burton, and Henry Picard were the golfers who triumphed at the Masters Tournament, the United States Open, The Open Championship, and the PGA Championship, respectively. It was the last and most significant victory for Guldahl and Picard. Despite this, Nelson would go on to win three other majors in the future.

FA Cup

Football Association Challenge Cup or FA Cup

  • The Football Association Challenge Cup, more commonly known as the FA Cup, was the oldest football cup tournament in the world. The 1939–1940 season of the FA Cup was an abandoned season of the competition. The competition started as the 65th season of the competition, but it was canceled after the very first round of qualifying matches because World War II had just begun.

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NCAA Basketball Tournament

  • In its inaugural year, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) hosted the event that would later become known as “March Madness.” In the championship game, Oregon defeated Ohio State by a score of 46–33, claiming victory and the title. There would not be another Final Four appearance for Oregon until 2017.

Boxing

  • Another very popular sport during the release of The Wizard of Oz up until now is boxing. However, it was a sport that was impacted by the Great Depression, which occurred in the 1930s and was one of the most difficult economic times in the history of the United States. As a result of the poor state of the American economy, many boxers were only able to continue competing out of a sense of passion rather than a financial incentive.

Popular Sports Highlights During the 1930s

  • It was commonly believed that the 1920s were the “golden age of sports.” The decade of the 1930s, on the other hand, was marked by a steady stream of skilled athletes shattering previously held records. New speed records were set in a variety of competitions, including swimming, running, horse racing, and competitions between race cars and powerboats. The speed of play in basketball and the structure of football have both been sped up, and new scoring systems have been implemented, respectively, in both sports.
  • In the 1920s, the titles of “best” in baseball (1895–1948), “best” in boxing (1895–1983), and “best” in golf (1902–1971) were given to individuals, such as Babe Ruth (1895–1948), Jack Dempsey (1895–1983), and Bobby Jones (1902–1971). In the 1930s, several athletes made significant contributions to their respective sports. Few athletes went on to become dazzling stars, with the possible exceptions of Joe Louis (1914–1981) in boxing, Babe Didrickson (1911–1956) in track and field and golf, and Jesse Owens (1913–1980) in track and field.
  • The Great Depression, which lasted from 1929 to 1941, forced many sports teams to come up with creative new tactics to draw fans. They started looking for other ways to make money without raising the prices of the tickets. As a direct consequence of this, a variety of sports have been increasingly commercialized. More people than ever before were able to follow sporting events because of radio broadcasts. Even though listeners didn’t have to pay anything to tune in, the sports teams still made more money because of the commercial airtime and the price they paid for the broadcast rights. Large numbers of fans were able to be attracted to nighttime baseball games thanks to the well-lit stadiums. Attendance at both baseball and football games saw an increase as a result of the creation of all-star games. Boxing was America’s second-most popular sport during the decade, behind only baseball, because of the surge in popularity brought on by heavy wagering.
  • White baseball fans began to take notice of the high-quality performance displayed by teams competing in the Negro Baseball League during the decade, even though segregation was still the norm in the vast majority of sports. Jesse Owens and Eddie Tolan (1908–1967) were two track and field competitors who achieved widespread recognition for their accomplishments. 
  • During the 1930s, women began to receive recognition for their athletic accomplishments. During the decade, Babe Didrikson competed in and won 632 of the 634 different sporting events that she participated in. Both a basketball game that she played in and a high jump competition that she participated in but ended in defeat for her. It appeared that she had established a world record in the high jump. 
  • Sonja Henie (1912–1969) popularized figure skating. Didrikson and Henie each earned a million dollars thanks to the success they had in their respective sports. Virnett Beatrice “Jackie” Mitchell, who played baseball from 1914 until she died in 1987, was the first woman to sign with a professional baseball team. Her notoriety skyrocketed in 1931 when, during an exhibition game, she got both Babe Ruth (1895–1948) and Lou Gehrig (1903–1941) to strike out. When Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) flew from New Zealand to Ireland in 1932, she established a new record for the longest nonstop flight in aviation history.

Conclusion

The sporting events that took place in 1939 around the United States captivated the public’s attention. Little Leagues were the first organized baseball league for children. Baseball players who were over the age of 30 were eligible to compete in a variety of amateur and semiprofessional leagues, many of which hosted regional, state, and even national tournaments. During this historical period, the United States Lawn Tennis Association encouraged tennis as a sport for everyone, except African Americans, who had their very own association, the American Tennis Association, that invited them to participate.