Sport and recreation in the United States — страница 10

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played more for fun than the pocket money they got by splitting the ticket take. Before 1920 the most famous professional was the Olympic champion Jim Thorpe; Gus Dorais and Knute Rockne of Notre Dame were also pros of that era. In 1920 the American Football Association (AFA) was founded; two years later it was succeeded by the National Football League (NFL), comprised for the most part of teams from small towns in Ohio. It was the great Illinois tailback Red Grange whose publicity changed the professional game from the poor stepchild of the college game into a growth industry on its way to becoming the multimillion dollar business of the 1960s. In 1930 the superiority of the professional game was demonstrated when the New York Giants beat Notre Dame in a charity exhibition game.

In 1936 the college "draft" system was established, the final step in persuading the public to reverse its perception of college football's relationship to the program, and to see the universities as minor leagues preparing players for the pro ranks. Professional football's symbiosis with television began in 1952 when the NFL established its blackout rule for home games. In 1960 Pete Rozelle became the commissioner of the NFL, and under his astute leadership the game achieved a level of popularity that made it America's favorite spectator sport. In 1966 the NFL merged with its new rival, the American Football League (AFL), allowing Rozelle to designate the championship game between the two formerly separate leagues as the "Super Bowl," which immediately became

America's premier sports spectacle[3, p.214-215]. Bowling There was not always a clear distinction between amateur and professional bowlers, especially since amateurs are allowed to collect prize money. Most acknowledged professionals were instructors, but there were a few who toured the country, giving exhibitions or playing matches for money. Three professionals were pretty well known to the public. Andy Varipapa, a colorful trick shot artist, spent thirty years entertaining crowds throughout North America. He also won two consecutive BPAA All-Star tournaments, in 1946 and 1947. Floretta McCutcheon was the sport's leading woman ambassador from 1927 through 1939, giving thousands of clinics, lessons, and exhibitions. Best known of all was Ned Day, who not only toured but also

did a very popular series of movie shorts during the 1940s. Millions of people saw the films in theaters and, later, in television reruns. Day retired in 1958, the very year the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) was founded. Under the leadership of Eddie Elias, the PBA set out to establish a regular tour of sponsored tournaments similar to the Professional Golf Association tour. For several years, there were only three or four tournaments on the PBA tour, but the number grew rapidly during the 1960s, mainly because of television. To fit tournaments into TV time slots, Elias created the "stepladder" format that's still used in almost all PBA events. Competitors first roll a series of qualifying games, with the top five finishers advancing into the stepladder round.

The fifth- and fourth-place qualifiers bowl a match, with the winner advancing to bowl against the third-place qualifier. And so it goes up the stepladder, until the survivor meets the first-place qualifier in the final match. The Professional Women's Bowling Association was founded in 1960 to establish a similar tour. It wasn't particularly successful, so a group of players left to form the Ladies' Professional Bowlers Association in 1974. The two merged again in 1978, forming the Women's Professional Bowlers Association, which became the Ladies Professional Bowlers Tour in 1981. As in golf, the women's tour isn't nearly as lucrative as the men's, largely because of the lack of television coverage. The PBA tour boasts about 40 tournaments, many of which award $40,000 or more for

first place. The LPBT tour offers only about 15 tournaments and first place money is usually less than $20,000. There are four major men's tournaments, the BPAA U. S. Open, the PBA National Championship, the Tournament of Champions, and the ABC Masters. Women have three majors, the BPAA U. S. Women's Open, the Sam's Town Invitational, and the WIBC Queens. A fourth major tournament, the WPBA National Championship, was discontinued after 1980[16,]. Problems in professional sport One of the most frequent complaints leveled against professional sports these days is that the news about them often concerns various disputes between players and management, court cases, and other legal proceedings more than it does what takes place in the games athletes