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Roots of Florida History

Manatee County High School 1919 football team

Manatee County High School 1919 Football Team, 1919.

Sports have been an integral part of Florida culture for even longer than the land has officially been a state. Depictions of Native Americans playing various stick and ball games exist dating back to the 1500s. As the state became more developed, sports continued to grow in prominence and importance among Floridians. This was particularly true of areas largely made up of immigrant populations, where sports teams could provide a sense of community in areas where immigrants may have felt alienated. Teams were common in areas like Ybor City, which became heavily populated by Cuban immigrants at the start of the 20th century. 

Boys Baseball Team of 1908

Boys baseball team, 1908.

During this same era, as the whole state of Florida became more populated, universities began to be established, which provided a new venue for sporting events. The emergence of college athletics in Florida also increased the prevalence of sports at the high school level throughout the state. Athletic events and competitions have existed in Florida for decades and as the state grew, sports began to take a significant role in attracting more residents and visitors to the Sunshine State.