Sports have always been a big part of our communities. Many people are fans and watch their favorite team on the high-definition widescreen every weekend.
But nearly a century ago being a sports fan probably meant participating in a local amateur squad or competing in individual competitions.
That is not to say that the big leagues didn’t have its followers in Jamestown. An early January 1930 edition of the Jamestown Sun had a photo of Babe Ruth as part of a salute to the national sports figures of the previous year.
The display included the top golfers, football stars, boxers and tennis players of 1929. It even included a photo of Blue Larkspur the top race horse of the year. The horse won an amazing $250,000 in three years of racing and is still listed in the top 100 of American Thoroughbreds of all time.
But for the local sports enthusiast the thrill of the big league games was distant. They only way they could follow any of the national sports was through the newspaper’s recount of the game or event after the event.
If you wanted to actually see a game you probably watched a local team compete. This could be a high school or college team or one of the many amateur squads that sprang up. And if you wanted to compete you had a wide variety of sports to choose from.
Some of the events are still held. In 1935 Billy Sundahl of Jamestown won the North Dakota amateur golf title.
Bowling was probably bigger back in the early days of the 20th century. The Jamestown Bowling organization hosted teams from a multi-state area every winter. This back in the days when youngsters could earn a little pocket money by setting pins down at the end of the lanes.
But amateur competitions in other sports that were popular in the 1920s and 1930s are no longer held. Many communities in North Dakota, including Jamestown, had ski jumps during that era. Those competitions aren’t held any longer.
Amateur boxing was gaining popularity in the depression era. The North Dakota Athletic Commission was formed in 1935 and could sanction both amateur and professional events. The paper commonly carried results of boing cards from around the state.
And for the hearty souls, Jamestown had an amateur hockey team back in 1935. The Jamestown Elks hockey team played in the north division of the Pioneer American Independent Hockey League of North Dakota.
That is the PAIHLND for those that think of sports leagues by its acronym. The north division had teams in Jamestown, New Rockford and Cooperstown while the south fielded squads from Valley City, Lisbon and Wahpeton.
But that didn’t stop the teams from playing other teams from around the area. On New Years Day, 1936, the Jamestown Elks hockey team played the Bismarck Philips 66 team at the rink in the park. The game was played at 2:30 in the afternoon. This allowed the spectators and players to benefit from the afternoon sunlight and any afternoon warmth.
Which has to take a little more dedication than watching a game on an HD TV.