On this day in 1939, as Europe edged towards the brink of world war, the United States moved forward into a glorious age. No, not yet would they become a preeminent world power, but rather the Americans would enter into something more important: The Age of Televised Sport.
In the modern world we have pay-per-view fights, channels dedicated to has-been Big 12 programs, three days of televised NFL draft coverage, and even women’s basketball broadcast almost nightly during the season. Yet to reach such peaks of six-pack infused sports’ depravity, we needed baby steps.
Hence the time of sports on the boob tube began with something as sad and minor as Yankee college baseball, when the Columbia Tigers and the Princeton Tigers battled in New York City. In defense of the teams, at the time they were a pretty big deal as far as sporting institutions. So while we laugh at the product now, then it was a wee bit better and offering.
While just the second game of a double-header from Columbia’s Baker Field was shown on NBC, it was still a first for America, and, in the words of sports-writer Louis Effrat, “the first regularly-scheduled sporting event to be pictured over the air waves.” The two teams played an enjoyable game, won 2-1 by the Tigers after a tenth-inning single by pitcher Dan Carmichael, and this may have played a role in the television station’s desire to up their game to the pro level at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field later that fall.
Or maybe they saw the future — millions of drunken fans huddled around a screen and tubs of hot wings, paying exorbitant fees for overpriced events and channels of hot takes. On second thought, who could possibly think of something so beautiful and disgusting at the same time?