In the 20th century, sports was mostly dominated by golf, boxing, baseball and horse racing. Around that time, Jim Thorpe managed to take the sporting world by storm on account of his sheer talent. He remains well-known even today for his contribution to the filed. However, there are some rather interesting facts about the star that aren’t as well-known. For example, he wasn’t just unusually good at several sports; he also played an important role in helping America embrace football at a time when it was still gaining traction.
Kate Buford, the writer who wrote the 2010 book, “Native American Son: The Life and Sporting Legend of Jim Thorpe,” explained that the athlete was one of a kind. “He glamorized the Olympics and glamorized sports by being this phenomenon that came from out of nowhere and astonished the world,” Buford said (Via HowStuffWorks.) “He became this gold standard of the perfect athlete who could do anything. Anything. We won’t see his likes again.”
He was instrumental in helping football take off
Thorpe, despite going through some tough times as a child, wasn’t afraid to push himself and explore his potential. As a Native American, the athlete was required to do his best to blend in with other kids in school and be a part of the local culture. He spent a long time far away from his family and comfort zone. Nothing stopped him because he had a natural aptitude for athletics and pursued his passion with all his might.
He was trained by one of his greatest coaches when he was in school, Glenn Warner, and thrived under his watch. Warner praised Thorpe and said, “No college player I ever saw had the natural aptitude for football possessed by Jim Thorpe. I never knew a football player who could penetrate a line as Thorpe could, nor did I ever know of a player who could see holes through which to break as could the big Indian. As for speed, none ever carried a pigskin down the field with the dazzling speed of Thorpe.” According to Biography.com, Thorpe’s influence on pro football was undeniable. When the sport was at its nascent stage in the U.S., Thorpe was able to singlehandedly attract a large number of viewers as he helped the Canton Bulldogs make it to league championships several times.
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