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The Kentucky Derby is the oldest continuously held major sporting event in the United States. It has been staged every year at Churchill Downs without interruption since the inaugural running on May 17, 1875 – the first day of racing at the track then known as the Louisville Jockey Club.
What is the longest continually held sporting event in America
The Kentucky Derby takes place on the first Saturday in May every year, and typically draws a crowd of 155,000 people. It is the longest continually held sporting event in America, and it is one of the most prestigious horse races in the world. Often called “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports”, the Kentucky Derby receives this nickname from the approximate length of time it takes the winner to run from the starting gate to the finish line. The Kentucky Derby is the first race within the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, where it is followed by the Preakness Stakes race and the Belmont Stakes race.
Americans are fascinated with anything sports, and this carries over into those teams, games, and players that accomplish anything on an outrageous scale. From players that dress and act strangely to an extended duration of a game, Americans soak this up, like a dry sponge, and add them as topics to talk about with their fellow fans. Sports games that extend beyond the normal bounds typically mean a game that will be a hot topic. So what are some of the longest sports games in America’s history?
A sports game that goes beyond the norm in duration is eagerly watched, with all eyes on the electronic scoreboard for points and the winning team. A record was set in tennis when Nicolas Mahut and John Isner had a match that lasted over eleven hours, covering three days.
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In baseball, the 1981 game between the Rochester Red Wings and the Pawtucket Red Sox, in Rhode Island at the Red Sox stadium broke the record. It started at 7 pm and continued until 4:07 AM, lasting 32 innings. Oddly, the game was stopped and it didn’t start back up again for two months. It was not only the longest game in baseball history, but set the record for 60 total strikeouts, 219 total at-bats, and 14 at-bats by a single player in a game.
Basketball also has its own record, set on January 6, 1951 between the Rochester Royals and the Indianapolis Olympians. While the score was 73-75, the game had six overtimes, lasting 78 minutes, which equates to two basketball games! Both teams, combined, had only 23 shot attempts during overtime, which is less than an average team would take in a quarter. During this game, there wasn’t any shot clock, which slowed the scoring chances. This is a game that could definitely have used an electronic scoreboard, to keep the fans awake.
March 24, 1946 set a hockey record between the Detroit Red wings and the Montreal Maroons for the Stanley Cup Playoffs semifinal round. In the 1st game, the score was tied at ‘0’, and that led into overtime. The rule in playoffs in hockey is that games cannot end in a tie, so the teams must continue to play until someone wins. In this case, both teams played for six overtimes. Lasting 176 minutes; which is three times the duration of the average hockey game.
American football also has its records. On December 25, 1971, the Miami Dolphins were playing the Kansas City Chiefs at what became the longest football game in the NFL history. The game duration was set at 82 minutes, 40 seconds; seven minutes longer than any other NFL game played. The Miami Dolphins finally won at a score of 27-24, and I am sure the attending fans were quite relieved.
This list may be notable, but as we know, records are set to be broken and when they are, they become top news with a flurry of conversation in living rooms, sports bars and pubs. Setting and breaking sports records seems to go hand-in-hand with the American attitude of competition, so we look forward to seeing the next list.
America’s 2nd Oldest Sporting Event- A Dog Show
Sports fans will be tickled and amused to learn that the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, held every February at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, is the second oldest sporting event in the country.
First held in 1877, the canine contest is second only to another sports gala that took off in the 19th century, the Kentucky Derby. The latter had started running just two years earlier.
The Westminster gathering originated as a show for gun dogs, mainly Setters and Pointers, owned by a group of hunters who met regularly at NYC’s Westminster Hotel. Later formed into a kennel club, the organization handed out prizes such as pearl handled pistols and even donated money to the ASPCA.
The best of the breeds tournament was popular from the outset, drawing over 1,200 dogs and extending the 4-legged pageant into a 4-day affair. “Forrest & Stream” magazine called the inaugural show a triumph that represented “culture, wealth and fashion of the town”.
The dog spectacle has gone uninterrupted for all of its 141 years, even surviving the Great Depression and two World Wars. It is the most prestigious of the three major canine displays in the U.S. The other two are the National Dog Show and the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship.
Over the years, the competition’s rich and colorful registrants included Staghounds from General George Custer’s pack, Deerhounds bred by the Queen of England, a Siberian Wolfhound bred by the Czar of Russia, and Collies owned by J.P. Morgan.
1933 saw baseball legend Lou Gehrig enter his black German Shepherd, Afra of Cosalta, in the competition. The female took second place in the Open Bitch class.
The event’s most coveted prize, “Best In Show” (BIS), was first awarded in 1907 to a Smooth Fox Terrier. As a breed, the Terrier Group has earned the most honors since the show was introduced.
2008 witnessed the first Beagle to claim the BIS title, setting off a celebration dubbed “Beaglemania” by the media.
Selecting a single winner out of thousands of lovable, furry friendlies is no easy task. Dogs are measured against their breed standards to see how close they match the ideal specimen of that breed.
Those standards can include references to the jobs the animals were historically bred to perform. While today man’s best friend is bred mostly for companionship, the judges look for purity of physical traits as well as movement and temperament.
In the initial rounds, dogs compete at their own breed level and then advance to their respective groups- Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding. The highest scoring canine in each category then moves on to the final BIS contest.
In 2017, the top spot went to Rumor, a female German Shepherd.
The youngest dog to ever win the BIS was a 9-month old Rough Collie in 1929. The oldest was a 10-year old Sussex Spaniel named Stump, in 2009. Stump was later featured on the cover of AARP magazine.
In the end, champion and handler take home more than just a trophy. The reign begins the next day with media appearances on morning television shows and visits to major sites in the Big Apple.
Like a beauty pageant winner, the dog becomes a national ambassador and named “America’s Dog” for the next year.
With sold out crowds at Madison Square Garden and millions tuning in to the event on TV and online, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is truly the Super Bowl of the canine world.