Evolution Of The Athletic Shoe
From sports, to fashion, to collectibles, the athletic shoe has seen it all.
Today’s subculture craze for celebrity sneakers has spawned a lucrative reseller market below the radar of most older adults.
Online StockX was even launched as an exchange platform for these over-hyped rubber bottoms, utilizing the same transparent bid/ask index and historical data points associated with the stock market.
But long before evolving into pricey, pop-culture investments, American sneakers originated as humble canvas top and rubber sole keds. They replaced clonking leather walkers and were dubbed sneakers since they allowed a person to “sneak” around silently.
Converse debuted the All-Stars in 1917 and later hired Indiana hoops star Chuck Taylor as their salesman. By 1932, the Chuck Taylor All-Stars took on his signature and ankle star patch to become the greatest selling basketball shoes of all time.
Across the Atlantic, Joseph Foster outfitted Britain’s 1924 Olympic sprinters with his spiked running shoes. Those athletes were immortalized in the 1981 film, Chariots of Fire.
Decades later, Foster’s grandsons would break away to found Reebok. In Germany, Adolf Dassler and his brother Rudolph created the famed three stripes Adidas shoes. Jesse Owens won four gold medals in them at the 1936 Olympics.
After the war, Rudolph split from his brother to form Puma, launching a bitter rivalry between the two siblings. Sports legends like Muhammad Ali, Franz Beckenbauer and Zinadine Zidane branded Adidas. Pele, Diego Maradona and Boris Becker ran around in Pumas.
In Hollywood, 1950’s counterculture idols James Dean and Marlon Brando were seen wearing sneakers on and off the set, helping to transform the athletic shoe into a casual fashion fad.
At the opening whistle of the 1970 World Cup final between Brazil and Italy, Pele purposely bent down to tie his shoe, drawing the attention of millions of TV viewers to his Pumas. The distraction was part of a $125,000 prearranged deal with the foot wear company.
But it was Michael Jordan and his gravity-defying athleticism fifteen years later that transformed the marketing power of the athletic shoe.
Signing up with Nike in 1984, the basketball superstar took the sneaker to new heights and along with it, Nike’s profits. Jordan and his shoes became icons and street culture followed with a myriad of sneaker designs, colors and applications.
The air soaring legend might have retired from basketball in 2003 but his shoes did not. Size 12 “Jordan 4 Retro Eminem Carhartt” recently sold for $10,000.
BASEBALL April 2, 2010 Former MLB pitcher Mike Cuellar dies at the age of 72. A 2x World Series champion and 4x All-Star, Cuellar started off with the Cincinnati Reds in 1959 and played for 5 teams, spending the most years with the Baltimore Orioles. He won the AL Cy Young award in his first season with the dynastic Orioles and was their starting pitcher at the 1969 World Series against the NY Mets. Cuellar closed his career with an ERA of 3.14 and 1,632 strikeouts.
BASKETBALL April 2, 2000 At the 19th Women’s NCAA Basketball Championship, the Connecticut Huskies defeat the Tennessee Volunteers 71-52. Led by their famed coach Geno Auriemma, the Huskies claimed their second national title. They would win another 9 championships and become the nation’s most successful women’s basketball program to date. The Connecticut ladies dispatched Penn State at the Semi-finals before taking on Tennessee for the crown.
GOLF April 8, 1990 Nick Faldo wins the 54th annual Masters Tournament held in Augusta, Georgia. Shooting a 278 (-10) and tying Raymond Floyd in the final round after the latter bogeyed on the 16th hole, Faldo emerged victorious in the playoff showdown. It was his second consecutive win at the Masters and third of what would be six career majors. Born in Herdforshire, England, Faldo turned pro in 1976 and has won more majors than any other modern European golfer.
OLYMPICS April 12, 1980 The U.S. Olympic committee announces their boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. A total of 66 countries chose not to attend the games due to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Nevertheless, 80 other nations did agree to send their athletes to the first Olympics that were held in a communist country. Four years later, the Russians and their East European allies would follow-up with a boycott of the Los Angeles games.