Professional sports represent an ongoing story. Each passing season results in another chapter being written. While each year has its own unique events, different protagonists and new sub-plots, there isn’t usually a lot that changes year on year.
However, just like fashion, music, and politics can often be split into distinct eras, sports too can often be defined by the longer-term trends that occurred during certain time periods.
Here are some of the biggest things we saw in sports during the 2000s.
Online Sports Betting
Betting on sports has always been popular, particularly in competitions like horse racing. However, before the 2000s, the only way that most people could place a wager on a sport would be to physically visit a betting shop or place a call to their bookie.
While a lot of people were perfectly happy with this arrangement, it was inconvenient and impractical for many more. So when the internet became commonplace in the early 2000s, many people jumped at the chance to be able to place bets on their favourite sports over the internet.
The market grew and evolved a lot over the 2000s and beyond, becoming worth hundreds of billions a year. In some countries, sports betting has become a big part of the fan experience. To serve the growing number of bettors, hundreds of betting companies have sprung up. Many now regularly run free bet promotions to acquire new customers and compete with the other providers in the market.
Glory, Glory, Man United
Manchester United is the most successful English football team in the history of the sport. However, it wasn’t always this way. Until the creation of the Premier League in 1992, Liverpool had been the team to pick up the most silverware.
Then a Scotsman by the name of Alexander Chapman Ferguson was recruited as United’s club, and after 6 years of rebuilding the team, he began one of the most successful runs in football. Between 1992 and 1999, the Red Devils won all but two of the Premier League titles.
The club continued this dominance into the 2000s, thanks to its squad known as the “Class of ‘92” which included names like Beckham, Scholes, Savage, Butt, and Neville.
Dedicated Sports Channels
Up to the 1990s, most sports broadcasts were shown on mainstream television channels that would also air shows like soap operas, films, and the news.
This began to change in the 1990s, but it was the 2000s that really cemented the position of sports channels as the main way for fans to watch their team.
Across Europe, Sky Sports became the dominant player, while ESPN managed to build up a much bigger presence across the pond.
Michael Schumacher and Ferrari
Formula 1 is a sport that combines man and machine. In the 2000s, one man and one machine dominated more than any other. From 2000, German driver Michael Schumacher won five back-to-back Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championships, while Ferrari won six consecutive constructors’ titles from 1999 onwards.
Rule changes put in place in 2005 saw Schumacher and Ferrari’s dominance come to a halt, but they were back in contention in 2006 before being narrowly beaten by Spaniard Fernando Alonso and his Renault team.
After his retirement in 2006, Ferrari continued winning championships, with two constructors' titles in 2007 and 2008, while Kimi Räikkönen picked up the drivers’ championship in 2007.
Tiger Woods is one of the most successful golfers of all time and was entered into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2021. After winning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, Woods opened the floodgates, picking up major championship after major championship.
The 2000s was when Woods enjoyed most of his success, spending most of the entire decade ranked as the number 1 golfer in the world.
Of the 15 major championships the American has picked up over his career, all but two were acquired between 2000 and 2008.
Although his overall success has waned somewhat in recent years, he has continued to be a regular feature on the PGA Tour until a car crash in early 2021 forced him to rest for the time being.