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Posts Tagged ‘sports history’

This Day in History: Miami Dolphins Finish 1972 NFL Season Undefeated

On December 16, 1972, the Miami Dolphins tallied a 16-0 victory over the Baltimore Colts, completing the first undefeated 14-0 regular season record in the history of the NFL. They are the only team in NFL history to finish a season unbeaten and untied, and then go on to capture a Super Bowl victory that made them world champions, ending with a perfect 17-0 overall record. Over 40 years later, the Dolphins remain the only NFL team to complete an entire season undefeated and untied from the opening game through the Super Bowl (or the NFL championship game).

Six players from the ’72 Dolphins team have since been enshrined in Pro Football’s Hall of Fame: Nick Buoniconti (linebacker), Larry Csonka (fullback), Bob Griese (quarterback), Jim Langer (center), Larry Little (guard), and Paul Warfield (wide receiver), along with head coach Don Shula. It had not become common practice for Super Bowl champions to be invited to the White House until after 1980, so the 1972 Dolphins never got their White House visit. On August 20, 2013, 40 years after their historic perfect season, President Obama welcomed the team to the White House to celebrate and recognize their accomplishment.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a ceremony honoring the 1972 Super Bowl Champion Miami Dolphins in the East Room of the White House, Aug. 20, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a ceremony honoring the 1972 Super Bowl Champion Miami Dolphins in the East Room of the White House, Aug. 20, 2013.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) [public domain]

Prior to the 1972 Dolphins, the only other team to ever complete the regular season undefeated and untied is the Chicago Bears, who accomplished the feat in both 1934 and 1942. However, both of those Bears teams lost in the NFL Championship Game. In 1985, the Chicago Bears were 12-0 when they visited Miami in a nationally televised Monday night showdown. Members of the undefeated 1972 team were in attendance and watched the Dolphins claim a 38-24 upset victory. The Bears went on to an 18-1 season, capped by winning the Super Bowl, but the Dolphins’ claim on the only perfect season was still intact.

The most recent team to challenge the Dolphins’ exclusive hold on an undefeated season was the 2007 New England Patriots, who finished the regular season with a 16-0 mark. (The Patriots were able to compile a better regular season record than the 1972 Dolphins because the NFL lengthened the regular season schedule from 14 to 16 games in 1978.) New England added two playoff wins and entered Super Bowl XLII undefeated (18-0), but the dream of a perfect season fell short as they were defeated 17-14 by the New York Giants.

This season, with three games left in the regular season, the Carolina Panthers remain undefeated at 13-0. Stay tuned to find out if they can duplicate the perfection achieved by the 1972 Miami Dolphins team.

eLibrary has over 100 Research Topic pages related to the NFL and its teams, coaches, players and commissioners. To view a few of them related to this post, check out the links below:

Chicago Bears

Don Shula

Miami Dolphins

National Football League

New England Patriots

Super Bowl

Bringing Sports Into the Classroom in a Cross-Curricula Way

So it’s the end of the year, and your students know it. Maybe there are a few days left of school, maybe there are a few weeks…but the fact remains: it’s June. Your kids are ready for summer fun! Perhaps you could grab their attention from windows and daydreams with a cool activity.

Sports trivia!

I’m going to give you two good excuses for bringing sports discussions in the classroom. Firstly, it’s Sports America Kids Month. Secondly, SIRS Discoverer offers lots of ways to discuss sports while tying it to history, math, and social and cultural studies.

Did you know that the White House has a tennis court? It was built behind the West Wing in 1902. Hmmm…I wonder if your students could find out who was president in 1902? (Answer: Theodore Roosevelt) The tennis court was moved seven years later because the Executive offices were expanding—who was president then? (Answer: William Howard Taft)

In 1933, an indoor swimming pool was built for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Why? He needed physical therapy because he was disabled by polio. In 1975, an outdoor swimming pool was installed for President Gerald Ford, who loved to swim.

White House Swimming Pool By NARA, via Wikimedia Commons

White House Swimming Pool
By NARA, via Wikimedia Commons

A few other presidents put their personal sports or exercise preferences into action at the White House, too. Which president loved to bowl, and had a bowling alley constructed? (Answer: Richard Nixon) Which president loved to golf, and asked that a putting green and sand trap be created at the White House? (Answer: Dwight D. Eisenhower) Which president enjoyed jogging as exercise, and requested a jogging track? (Answer: Bill Clinton)

Culture and sports may be a fun end-of-the-year topic. For a broad overview, you can share this article with your students. It talks about sports and their significance to societies around the world. Or, you can get more specific and discuss the origins of certain sports. For example, did you know that lacrosse was created and played by Native American tribes? Teams were made up of 100 to 1,000 men (no girls were allowed), and matches lasted up to three days! The game is different now—and, of course, lots of girls play—but its roots remain in battle-like games played 600 years ago.

Baseball, sometimes called the American pastime, may have been invented in England! A similar game, called Rounders, was played there during the 18th century. One hundred years later, the game of baseball was so popular in the United States, that soldiers and prisoners-of-war even played it during the Civil War.

Union prisoners at Salisbury, North Carolina, play baseball in 1863

Courtesy of Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress [Public Domain],
via ProQuest SIRS Discoverer

Here’s another piece of sports-origins trivia: A game similar to tennis was first played more than 800 years ago—by French monks! European royalty soon learned and played the game, and it was then referred to as “royal tennis.” The word “tennis” is thought to have derived from the French word “tenez,” which means what? (Answer: “take this”)

Some sports figures have helped transform society. If you haven’t yet talked about Jackie Robinson with your students, Sports America Kids Month may be a great time to do so. He changed the world of baseball—and the world itself—in 1947, when he became the first African American man to play Major League baseball. In the 1970s, tennis player Billie Jean King helped all women in sports when she proved her skills, tenacity, and might—on and off the tennis court.

Take a few minutes before the end of the school year and have a bit of fun with your students. They might want to be outside playing sports…but you can give them the next best thing: sports inside! Join SIRS Discoverer and our June Spotlight of the Month in celebrating Sports America Kids Month…and the end of the school year.