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About Us

Once Upon a Time in Sports exists to preserve the modern age of American sports. Our focus in Major League Baseball, the NFL, and college football, along with the Rites of Spring—the NCAA Tournament, and the NBA and NHL playoffs.

If you’re of my generation (born in 1970), you have lived during what is essentially a golden age of professional sports in the United States. A sports landscape that was once dominated by Major League Baseball, along with horse racing and boxing, transformed and exploded to all of the above sports, along with everything that preceded it.

Therefore, for defining the modern age, I’ve tended to use 1970 as a general baseline. Yes, there’s a certain generational capture in that, but I also think this general period of time—from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s are when sports as we know them today began to take shape.

Consider the following historical benchmarks:

*In 1965, the Associated Press finally began waiting until after the college football bowls were completed to issue its final poll. For the first time, the bowls could be a real postseason showdown, rather than an exhibition.

*In 1966, the first Super Bowl was played. The American Football League (AFL) was still otherwise distinct from the NFL, but their champions were now playing each other.

*In 1969, Major League Baseball expanded to 24 teams and split its league into an East and West division. For the first time, there would be a postseason round prior to the World Series.

*In 1970, the AFL and NFL merged to form the league in what is reasonably close to its present form. The merger included provisions for Monday Night Football. For the first time, the league would have prime-time games regularly scheduled.

*In 1974, the United Press International coaches poll joined the AP in waiting until the bowls were played to have their final college football poll.

*In 1977, the American Basketball Association (ABA) merged with the NBA, forming the league as we basically know it today.

*In 1978, the NFL made significant rule changes to open up the passing game. While making life easier for quarterbacks has been a perpetual state of life since then, never were the changes more dramatic than in ’78. This was done in conjunction with expansion of the regular season from 14 to 16 games. And a fifth team per conference was added to the playoffs, creating the need for a wild-card round. All of the above served to shape the NFL as those of my generation grew up understanding it.

Change certainly didn’t stop in the late 1970s and perhaps in future years, a younger generation might be more inclined to look at later benchmarks—like 1994, when Major League Baseball went to its current three-division format and began expanding the playoffs, or the various changes college football went through from 1995 to 2023 in creating its championship format. Or the rise of parity in hockey—the early 1990s was when a sport previously known for great dynasties began becoming more wide open.

There are a lot of different possibilities for capturing eras in sports. But here at OUAT, we see the late-1960s to late-1970s as a reasonably good starting point. We also need a stopping point. 2020 was a seminal year in the history of the United States, with the dramatic events of COVID-19, and the world of sports experienced what can best be called a “gap year.” There was no NCAA Tournament. Other leagues played shortened schedules and playoff rounds in a bubble in front of empty stadiums. Absent a compelling reason otherwise, 2020 serves as a general stopping point.

It bears emphasizing that the reasons for picking a starting point and stopping point is purely about the limitations of time. If I had my way, I’d write articles about every single year going all the way back to the beginning for each sport, and then keep going into the future, using only a five-year waiting period to let each season settle into its place in history. Perhaps in the future, we’ll get there. But for now, there’s plenty of work to do.

That’s because our objective for each year is so much more than the top-line summaries you can find at the dropdown menus. We also want to drill down on each individual team within that season. The number of historical articles on this site is currently over 1,200 and we’re adding to it every day.

There are two easy ways to explore the museum here at OUAT. The first is to use the drop-down menus above and just click into links within each seasonal summary. There’s also our free downloads page. As our individual season articles build up, they reach a point where they capture an entire era in the history of a particular team. The downloads page is where those get compiled for easy access. We currently have over 30 free downloads. All it costs is your e-mail address—we won’t spam you. The only thing you’ll get in addition to unlimited downloads is our free Substack newsletter.

This site was originally known as, going back to its founding in November 2011. That domain still exists and serves as the focal point for our coverage of current sports. The games of today are the history of tomorrow. Our blog is accessible here, and will take you directly there.

Finally, there are our books. Our titles are highlighted by a look at the great baseball season of 1978, and the Lou Holtz era of Notre Dame football. We also have a book on Great 1980s Sports Moments. More are in the works.

American sports is a cultural treasure chest. We’re out to preserve as much of it as we can.