Sports Broadcasting: Spreading the News Since 1921

Johnny Ray, center, was one of the participants in the first sporting event to be broadcast on the radio. (Image via
Johnny Ray, center, was one of the participants in the first sporting event to be broadcast on the radio. (Image via

On this date in 1939, the first live television broadcast of a sporting event in the United States happened.

Here are some things you may not have known about the early days of sports broadcasting.

If a fan couldn’t get to the stadium to see their team in action, traditionally they would have to wait to read about it in the newspaper the next day.

This began to change in 1911 when the first live re-creation of a game via telegraph took place. A telegraph line was set up between Lawrence, Kansas and Columbia, Missouri, to relay immediate results of the football game between the universities of Kansas and Missouri. As the plays came in on the telegraph, the results would be announced using a large model of a football field. It was also common for big games to be updated on large reader boards in front of newspaper offices.

The first radio broadcast of a sporting event was a 1921 boxing match between Johnny Dundee and Johnny Ray on Pittsburgh’s KDKA. The first baseball and college football games on radio were also broadcast on KDKA in 1921.

The first televised baseball game was on May 17, 1939 between the Princeton Tigers and Columbia Lions. This was three years after the first live televised sports event, the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

Later in 1939, the first televised football game was between Fordham and Waynesburg College. The first nationwide television broadcast of a college football game would have to wait for a 1951 game between Duke and Pittsburgh.

Our question: What sport was the first to be broadcast on radio in the United Kingdom?

Today is Norwegian Constitution Day, World Information Society Day, World Hypertension Day and International Day Against Homophobia.

It’s National Cherry Cobbler Day, National Mushroom Hunting Day and National Walnut Day.

It’s the birthday of boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, who is 60; singer Enya, who is 55; and comedian Craig Ferguson, who is 54 today.

We’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 1983, the top song in the U.S. was “Beat It” by Michael Jackson.

The No. 1 movie was “Blue Thunder,” while the novel “The Little Drummer Girl” by John Le Carre topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.


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