Althea Gibson of the United States plays during Wimbledon in 1956

Serving Goodwill: US Women’s Tennis and Cold War Diplomacy

By dispatching women tennis players on world tours, the US Department of State hoped to garner approval for the American way of life.
A sprint at a U.S. Naval Academy field day, between 1890 and 1901

Professional Running: the Nineteenth Century’s Dirtiest Sport

American racers earned a reputation for deception, and Cuckoo Collins led the pack with an outsize talent for cheating.
Newcomb featured in Spalding's Red Cover series of athletic handbooks in 1914

Clara Gregory Baer and the “Lost” Sport of Newcomb Ball

The sport of Newcomb ball was created by Clara Gregory Baer two years before volleyball. Now forgotten, it's a good bet it lives on in the gyms and beach courts of today.

Hot Air Balloon Launch Riot!

In the early days of ballooning, launches were prone to failure. When failure looked imminent, the crowd’s mood would begin to turn.
Poster promoting the Olympic bobsled run at Lake Placid

Antisemitism at the 1932 Winter Olympics

The 1932 Winter Olympics were a small foreshadowing of what was to come in 1936 Berlin.
An illustration from Muscle Building by Earle Liederman, 1924

The King of Mail-Order Muscles

Flab, begone! Earle Edwin Liederman wanted men to learn his vaudeville-strongman secrets—for a not-so-low price.
President Richard Nixon Starting the 1973 American League Season by Tossing a Baseball

Richard Nixon’s Fantasy Baseball Team

It might have been a ploy to garner Democratic votes, but the president took his dream team seriously.
Damien Hooper of Australia listens to advice from his corner during the bout with Juan Carlos Carrillo of Colombia in the Boxing Men's Middle 75kg division on day 11 of the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympics at the International Convention Centre on August 25, 2010 in Singapore

How Do Indigenous Athletes Fit into the Olympics?

Olympic athletes are divided into teams of nations. To Indigenous competitors, though, that can mean representing oppressive settler-colonial states.
Photograph: Muhammad Ali, 1966

Source: Getty

How Muhammad Ali Prevailed as a Conscientious Objector

The heavyweight champion lost his title when he refused induction into the military during the Vietnam War.
A barefoot pedestrian is overtaken by the Royal Caledonian Basket on a road near Glasgow.

The Forgotten Craze of Women’s Endurance Walking

Hardy athletes called pedestriennes wowed the sporting world of the nineteenth century. They also shocked guardians of propriety.