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Any history of the Great Depression is incomplete if it neglects sports, and New York City was the unrivaled sports capital of America. From professional baseball to college basketball to boxing, the most important sporting events took place in New York's legendary venues: Yankee Stadium, the Polo Grounds, Madison Square Garden, Forest Hills, and Belmont Park. Sports also mirrored social issues. Joe Louis's boxing matches against white opponents represented more than a simple athletic contest and stimulated racial and ethnic pride, especially in his bouts with Max Schmeling. Long Island University's dominant basketball team boycotted the 1936 Olympic trials to protest Germany's treatment of Jews, and New York University students demonstrated against the "gentlemen's agreement" whereby NYU would not field black athletes against teams in Jim Crow states.


This work was originally published in "The 1930s: The Reality and the Promise," edited by J. Bret Bennington, Zenia Sacks DaSilva, Michael D'Innocenzo, and Stanislao G. Pugliese.



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