June 17, 2017
Effects That World War Two had on Sports Leagues
Effects That World War Two had on Sports Leagues
During the late 1920's and 1930's, sports leagues in North America were becoming more popular. Leagues such as the NFL and NHL were just beginning to grow in The U.S.A. Smaller sports leagues, such as automobile racing, were gaining a small following as well. But when World War II broke out in Europe, all the leagues began to feel the effects of the war. Interestingly the NHL, MLB, and smaller leagues were all affected differently throughout the war.
The NHL was effected greatly by World War II. From the loss of players to the war effort to the lasting effects that World War had in the league. The high pace game that fans fell in love with began to slow down as the highly skilled player left the league behind to fight for their countries. The NHL had a total of eight players serve in the war, two of the eight, Dudley "Red" Garrett and Joe Turner, lost their lives in battle.[footnoteRef:1] Many high talented prospects were lost as well during the war, as they usually fit the draft criteria to perfection.[footnoteRef:2] Some of the team owners would try everything to keep their player out of the war. Tommy Gorman the general manager of the Montreal Canadians exploited the draft loophole to keep his team intact. After the war, the Canadians were a force to be reckoned with. They went on to win twelve Stanley Cups in the 30 years after the war.[footnoteRef:3] Once the War had ended the effects of it on the NHL lasted for years to come. With the pace of play dwindling the NHL was forced to change a few rules to try and increase the pace of play. One example of this is the change in the red line rule, which is still used in the NHL to this day. During the War with the extreme rationing that was implemented by the American and Canadian Governments led to a decrease in attendance. The low attendance led the NHL to contemplate the suspension of play until the end of the war. However, the Canadian and American Governments both urged the NHL to keep playing as it was a moral booster to the citizens. After the War, the NHL quickly went back to business as usual and continues to spread throughout North America. [1: Flint Whitlcok, "Sports During World War II," Warfare History Network, September 19, 2016, , accessed June 17, 2017, http://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/wwii/sports-during-world-war-ii//.] [2: "Hockey In World War II," Hockeycentral | NHL | Movers & Shapers | Hockey in WWII, , accessed June 17, 2017, http://www.hockeycentral.co.uk/nhl/movers/Hockey-in-World-War-II.php.] [3: "The Stanly Cup - The Holy Grail Of Hockey," Stanley Cup - Winners, pictures and more | Historical Website of the Montreal Canadiens, , accessed June 17, 2017, http://ourhistory.canadiens.com/trophy/Stanley-Cup.]
The effects that World War II had on the MLB were far greater than that of the NHL. Some of the biggest names were drafted for the war, such as Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Yogi Berra, Jackie Robinson and Enos "Country" Slaughter. Baseball historians believe if World War II would not have occurred that Ted Williams would have broken Babe Ruth's home run record. With some many of the big names gone off to war, the level of play dropped drastically. MLB teams started putting anyone that they could find on the field.[footnoteRef:4] Pete Gray was put on a team during the war even though he only has one arm. Like the NHL the MLB were very close to suspending play as the level of play was dropping. The President of The U.S.A. wrote to the MLB and stated that he hoped that the MLB would continue to play as the league has a huge impact on the morale of the citizens. The war had a huge impact on the development of the League, the minor league lost a total of 4,076 minor leaguers to the draft.[footnoteRef:5] Only twelve out of the forty-four minor leagues survived the war. With the large exodus of minor league players the level of play after the war stayed at a very low level. The MLB was able to recover after the war but the impact of the war was felt for many years to come. [4: James C. Roberts, "Baseball Goes To War: The National Pastime In World War II," American Veterans Center, , accessed June 17, 2017, http://www.americanveteranscenter.org/avc-media/magazine/wwiichronicles/wwii-chronicles-issue-xxxix/baseball-goes-to-war-the-national-pastime-in-world-war-ii/.] [5: Gary Bedingfield, "Baseball in World War II," Baseball in Wartime - Baseball in WWII, , accessed June 17, 2017, http://www.baseballinwartime.com/baseball_in_wwii/baseball_in_wwii.htm.]
Smaller leagues in North American felt the effects of the War. Some of these leagues include the NFL, the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union and the Western Interprovincial Football Union, and automobile racing. The NFL was just gaining popularity in America. During the war, NFL teams struggled to field teams and some teams even merged together to be able to field a team.[footnoteRef:6] The NFL lost a total of 21 men to fighting, nineteen active players, a head coach and a team executive. The Interprovincial Rugby Football Union and the Western Interprovincial Football Union, which later combined to become the CFL. The two Canadian Football leagues had to suspended play due to loss of players to the war effort. Automobile racing was affected by the rationing implemented by the American Government more than the war itself. The American Government rationed resources that were very important to the Automobile racing sport, rubber, and oil. With the rationing of theses resources, Automobile racing had to stop during the war. Many of the smaller leagues had to suspend play due to World War II. [6: "Football and America: World War II," Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Site, , accessed June 17, 2017, http://www.profootballhof.com/connect/world-war-2-pg2/.]
Sports leagues during World War II were affected greatly. Many leagues were urged to keep playing to, as explained by Flint Whitlock "maintain at least a semblance of normality in order to keep of civilian morale." The effect of the war on sports leagues such as the NHL, MLB, and smaller leagues was very different.
Bedingfield, Gary. "Baseball in World War II." Baseball in Wartime - Baseball in WWII. Accessed June 17, 2017. http://www.baseballinwartime.com/baseball_in_wwii/baseball_in_wwii.htm.
"Football and America: World War II." Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Site. Accessed June 17, 2017. http://www.profootballhof.com/connect/world-war-2-pg2/.
"Hockey In World War II." Hockeycentral | NHL | Movers & Shapers | Hockey in WWII. Accessed June 17, 2017. http://www.hockeycentral.co.uk/nhl/movers/Hockey-in-World-War-II.php.
Roberts, James C. "Baseball Goes To War: The National Pastime In World War II." American Veterans Center. Accessed June 17, 2017. http://www.americanveteranscenter.org/avc-media/magazine/wwiichronicles/wwii-chronicles-issue-xxxix/baseball-goes-to-war-the-national-pastime-in-world-war-ii/.
"The Stanly Cup - The Holy Grail Of Hockey." Stanley Cup - Winners, pictures and more | Historical Website of the Montreal Canadiens. Accessed June 17, 2017. http://ourhistory.canadiens.com/trophy/Stanley-Cup.
Whitlcok, Flint. "Sports During World War II." Warfare History Network. September 19, 2016. Accessed June 17, 2017. http://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/wwii/sports-during-world-war-ii//.