Who’s on first? In the end zone? At the net? In the ring?

Who’s on first? In the end zone? At the net? In the ring?
Barbara Bush: Sports and Popular Culture

Skill: High School/College
Time Required: One to two class periods


America has always idolized its sports heroes.  The President welcomes many winning sports teams and individual players to the White House and Barbara Bush was frequently present when President Bush did the honors!


The purpose of this lesson is to acquaint students with some sports heroes from the 20th century.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet. Access to print reference materials.


Introduce the lesson by telling students that although many professional sports have their own Halls of Fame, there is not a listing of the 10 Best Sportsmen/women from the 20th century.  They are a committee whose job it is to research and present a list of ten names of outstanding professional players from the first 75 years of the 20th century. 

 Divide the class into pairs and assign each pair one of the players below.  The teacher and students may add additional names to the list after making sure that they were active before 1975.  After research, each pair will write a short (one paragraph) nomination for their player’s inclusion in the Top Five.  If time permits, the students may vote on their nominees and come up with the Top Five (or Ten?)

Possible nominees:

  1. Babe Ruth
  2. Ty Cobb
  3. Lou Gehrig
  4. Knute Rockne
  5. Bill Tilden
  6. Jack Dempsey
  7. Bobby Jones
  8. Babe Didrikson
  9. Joe Louis
  10. Jesse Owens
  11. Jackie Robinson
  12. Mohammad Ali
  13. Joe Namath
  14. Billie Jean King
  15. Lee Petty
  16. Mark Spitz
  17. Arnold Palmer
  18. Eddie Arcaro
  19. Richard Petty

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson might be extended by creating a classroom Hall of Fame for the nominees and winners.

Sources & Resources:


Multiple quality websites are accessible for each of the sports figures nominated.



This lesson was developed by Bette Brooks, Kent State University.