The 1920s have been called the Golden Age of Sports. From the very beginning of the decade extraordinary athlete-heroes emerged in virtually every sport—baseball, football, tennis, golf, polo, and the Olympic sports. Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Red Grange, Knute Rockne, Helen Wills, Bill Tilden, Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, Jack Dempsey, Benny Leonard, and Tommy Hitchcock established records and, in the process, became legends.
Prosperity and Play.
After the war America was eager both to work and to play. Prosperity, or at least the expectation of prosperity, characterized the nation. Citizens in increasing numbers were leaving farms to take jobs in the burgeoning industrial cities, and Americans' personal incomes improved significantly. By 1925, 40 percent of workers in the United States earned at least $2,000 annually—which would adequately if not extravagantly support a family of four—and many enjoyed shortened workweeks, which gave them increased leisure time. The nation went on a spending spree, buying, among other items, automobiles, radios, and tickets to movies and athletic events. In 1928 Stuart Chase wrote in "Play," collected in C. A. Beard's Whither Mankind: "Not far from one quarter of the entire national income of America is expended for play and recreation broadly interpreted. Perhaps half that sum...
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