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Why sport was better in the 1990s

When you take a retrospective look at the 1990s, there is not much that really stands out as brilliant. Yes, we were treated to Nirvana’s career-defining performances, Pokemon was hitting the shelves for the first time and the superb Recess cartoon series was debuting on our television screens. But, in short, the Nineties are somewhat of a blur. There are fragments that were good and then there were fragments that were terrible.

But, there is one thing that does make the 1990s stand out, the sport. Yes, that is right, the 1990s gave us the best sporting memories of any decade in living memory. Here is why it rocked to be a sports fan in the 1990s.

A Decade of Underdogs

Although there is no such thing as a foregone conclusion with sport, upsets in the modern age are becoming ever more of a rarity. However, if you look back to the Nineties, upsets were happening on a near constant basis.

When looking back with reflection you would never have deemed Andre Agassi as an underdog. The tennis favourite won nine Grand Slams in his career but what many people are quick to forget is just how dark a place Agassi was in. The American had seen his career stall due to injuries in the mid-1990s and as such turned to drugs. Agassi admitted in his autobiography to taking drugs. By 1997 Agassi had slipped to 141 in the tennis rankings. Many viewed his career as over. But what actually happened is Agassi kicked the drugs, underwent a rigorous conditioning training programme and by 1999 he was back winning Grand Slams. Agassi was a self-made underdog. His story is truly a remarkable one and should give inspiration to anybody who themselves struggles with debilitating vices.

by  shinya 

The Premier League is the best known soccer league in the world. Teams like Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal are known throughout the world. Despite their fame, Liverpool have never won the Premier League. But a team that has is Blackburn Rovers, who shocked the nation and won the division in 1995. Here was a humble team with a passionate and wealthy owner, who financed their incredible rise to the top. Surprises in league competitions usually never occur and Blackburn were massive underdogs when considering they were up against Sir Alex Ferguson and his Class of 1992.

Sporting superstars

The era can only be as good as the people who played during the ten years. In this regard, the Nineties is chock-a-block with star quality.

In soccer you had the fantastic Brazilian Ronaldo, Romario, Roberto Baggio, Jurgen Klinsmann, Alan Shearer and Roy Keane. For the first time, real flair was permeating the European leagues. This was mainly due to the influx of Brazilian players and it was mixed with the working man determination of soccer to make an intoxicating concoction of sporting brilliance.

Michael Jordan was that good he retired and went off to play baseball. Yet when that did not work out he went back to the courts and continued to dominate with Chicago Bulls. Never before, and perhaps never again (LeBron James), have we seen a player of Jordan’s basketball clout. Even now in the 21st century his legacy is everywhere. Practically one out of five sneakers in the States seems to be an Air Jordan.

by  Jason H. Smith 

Over in American Football you had Brett Favre melting the hearts of women and breaking the hearts of men. The Green Bay Packer quarterback is still revered today and his brief stop in There’s Something About Mary only enhanced his reputation.

by  Mike Morbeck 

Even in a game as pedestrian as cricket you still had stars. What Shane Warne can do with a cricket ball borders on demonic. But nonetheless we enjoyed it profusely in the Nineties. Meanwhile, Lennox Lewis was the pride of Britain for nearly the entirety of the decade as he combated with Tyson and others in boxing. It was a decade for the individual.

Sporting Moments

This was arguably the most important feature of the decade. In soccer we had the superb 1994 and 1998 World Cups held in the USA and France respectively. The 1994 World Cup was especially memorable. For starters, Americans flocked to the stadiums in their droves and made it the highest attended tournament in history. The memory of Roberto Baggio’s tears after he hit the deciding penalty over the bar in the World Cup final epitomises the brilliance of sport.

Continuing with soccer, you had the now legendary celebration of Brandi Chastain in 1999. The American had scored the World Cup-winning penalty and celebrated by stripping down to her sports bra.

Post-apartheid South Africa was still a divided country. Sport has a funny way of uniting countries and it worked wonders in South Africa. The year was 1995 and South Africa were holding the rugby union World Cup. It was a tournament that they went on to win. The image of Nelson Mandela handing over the Webb Ellis Cup to Francois Pienaar is one of the most touching sporting moments in history.

by  Nagarjun 

Granted his sporting days may have been some way behind him, but the O.J Simpson car chase of 1994 captured the attention of the nation and large parts of the world. It was a case that would go on to attract considerable media attention. And here is a little bit of trivia for you. Kim Kardashian’s father Robert was one of the O.J. attorneys.


The 1990s was nuts. In most tangents of the 1990s it was a type of nuts that we do not care for and do not ever want to see resurrected. However, the craziness of sport at the time has to be revered. It was a period when the fan just did not know what was going to happen next. That is exactly how we want it.

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