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  Chapter Seven:

  Professional Sports
  Track and Field
  National Parks
  Boy Scouts of America
  Land Speed Record
  Overseas Travel



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Track and Field

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Track and field performance improved significantly.
The charts show the American records from 1900 to 1998 in four menís track and field events: the high jump, the long jump, the pole vault, and the mile run. Improvement in each of these events was intermittent. Some records went unmatched for decades; others were overturned within days. 

From 1900 to 1998, the record high jump increased by 22 percent, the record long jump by 21 percent, and the record pole vault by 66 percent. The time of the record mile decreased by 11 percent. The extraordinary increase in the pole vault record was caused by technological advances that led to lighter and springier poles. 

In 1900, the American records in all four of these events were also world records. As late as 1970, the American records in three of the four events were world records. In 1998, the long jump was the only one of these events in which an American held the world record. The high jump champion was a Cuban, the pole vault champion was a Ukrainian, and the fastest miler was an Algerian. But in the totality of menís events, the United States held as many records as the next four countries combined. The United States was much less dominant in womenís track and field competition.

Chapter 7 chart 2

Source Notes
Source Abbreviations

WA 1900Ė1999; NYT 1990 and 1999; and ESPN Sports Almanac (1999). For the world record holders over the century, see WA 1999, pages 911Ė912.


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