Top Historical Contributions from Each Pro Sports League
By TOI Staff April 19, 2023 Update on : April 19, 2023
When it comes to professional sports today, one of the most popular ways to participate is through betting. Around the world, many betting markets and comparison sites such as OddsChecker include free welcome offers and other odds. These are accessible with just a few quick clicks or swipes, connecting fans to prop bets, straight bets, and more.
The focus is on testing their knowledge of the sport and having a bit of fun along the way. After all, most fans want to have fun with the spirit of competition. Many also see their own identity woven into their favorite team thanks to the community, nostalgia, and fighting spirit built up around them. In other words, whether or not they’ve wagered on an outcome, they’re invested in a big win.
This relationship isn’t a one-way street. Just like teams rely on the support and engagement of their fans, a pro sports league can have an equal effect on its fanbase—and not solely by fostering a competitive and entertaining atmosphere. Oftentimes, the leagues themselves help steer public interest, whether in retail, social justice, or even data-driven research.
In fact, when looking back at some of the top historical contributions of North America’s pro sports leagues, there’s a lot to celebrate. Each of the four major leagues has left its imprint on life in a positive, if unexpected, way.
The NHL: North America’s Oldest Trophy
Worldwide, the NHL isn’t on par with Europe’s association soccer leagues or international events like the Olympics. However, it regularly competes with Sweden’s SKL and Russia’s KHL, sharing fans and players alike. Beyond this, the NHL has one of the world’s most mysterious and infamous trophies.
The Stanley Cup was first forged back in 1892 before the NHL was formed, making it the oldest trophy in North America. Over the years, it’s grown to include the name and year of every single champion… which means the trophy now stands 36 inches tall and weighs almost 35 pounds.
What makes the Stanley Cup worthy of historical status is how it moves from city to city with each winning team. It’s passed around to the public through various events—and many fans share a drink out of the trophy’s goblet-like top. Viewed in this way, it’s not just a trophy, but a living piece of culture.
The NBA: Streetwear Goes Global
Some of the NBA’s modern contributions surround social justice movements. Players are actively sharing their views and the NBA fosters an atmosphere of vocality. But the league’s true contribution to history is its relationship to streetwear.
Sneaker culture can be tied back directly to Nike’s partnership with Michael Jordan and the release of Air Jordans. Fitted cap culture also points back to the basketball league… along with jerseys as streetwear. Viewed in this way, global street culture ties back directly to the NBA’s top stars of the 1980s and 90s.
The NFL: Sports Meets OTT Entertainment
The NFL is easily North America’s most over-the-top league… despite the fact that the CFL runs the show in Canada. The NFL’s Super Bowl event was first launched back in the late 1960s. Its goal was to bridge the NFL and AFL leagues, which is did successfully. Since then, the Super Bowl has highlighted the league’s dedication to all-out entertainment.
The Super Bowl has regularly brought on some of the world’s top creative talents for its halftime shows. It provides the same visibility for major brands during its halftime break. And other events have taken note. The UEFA Champions League final, for example, now includes a halftime show on par with the Super Bowl. Even eSports events like the League of Legends World Championship now include an NFL-caliber opening ceremony.
The MLB: Sabermetrics
The MLB was the first sports league in the world to embrace data. Back in the early 2000s, a scout for the Oakland Athletics decided to use stats alone to select his rookie class—to great success. Afterward, data crunching (or sabermetrics) took off across the MLB, which is a stats-heavy league. Since then, just about every sports league in the world has started to use data to drive decision-making. From the Premier League to AAA baseball, stats are a fundamental way for management to gauge their team’s progress, success, and outlook—amongst dozens of other considerations.