Jim Ryun returned the mile world record to the U.S. for the first time in 32 years when he ran 3:51.3 at Edwards Stadium in Berkeley, Calif., clipping 2.3 seconds off Michel Jazy's record. The purported "Game of the Century" between undefeated Michigan State and Notre Dame ended with more whimper than bang when Irish Coach Ara Parseghian, with the ball in his team's possession and enough time left for at least four passing plays, opted for a 10-10 tie instead of gambling for a win. Parseghian's conservativism paid dividends, though, for, tie or no, his team was named the national champion in the polls despite Alabama's perfect record.
The Baltimore Orioles won their first pennant in 70 years, then swept the Dodgers in the Series. The second game matched Sandy Koufax against 20-year-old Jim Palmer. Palmer responded to the challenge with a 6-0 win, becoming the youngest pitcher in Series history to throw a shutout. It was also the last game of Koufax's remarkable career. Suffering from arthritis in the elbow of his pitching arm, he retired at age 30. To yet another city went the Braves. Thirteen years after they moved from Boston to Milwaukee, they departed for Atlanta. A crowd of 50,000 watched them lose the first regular-season major league game played in the Deep South.
The Celtics won their eighth consecutive NBA title, and Bill Russell was hired as coach, the first black in NBA history to hold that job. Bobby Hull became the first NHL player to score more than 50 goals in a season. Bobby Orr, who would come to personify a new kind of rushing defenseman, joined the Boston Bruins.
The first Super Bowl matched the Green Bay Packers of the NFL with the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs. After a first half of probing, the powerful Packers, led by Bart Starr, Elijah Pitts and Jim Taylor, asserted themselves, scoring three touchdowns in the final half to win 35-10 before a disappointing crowd of 61,946 in the Los Angeles Coliseum (capacity for the game: 72,000). Max McGee, the Packers' veteran wide receiver, was the unexpected star of the game, catching seven Bart Starr passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
The Red Sox, carried manfully forward all year on the shoulders of Triple Crown winner Carl Yastrzemski, fought off the Twins, the Tigers and the White Sox to win their first pennant since 1946 in a thrilling American League race that went down to the final day of the season. The Bosox could not sustain their surge through the Series, though, as the Cardinals beat them in seven games. Bob Gibson won three for the champs.
Muhammad Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title for refusing to allow himself to be drafted into the armed services. Ali pleaded that his new Muslim religion would not permit him to fight outside the ring. At Indianapolis, A. J. Foyt won his third 500. Jim Ryun broke his own mile record with a 3:51.1 in Bakersfield, Calif., a time that would stand until 1975. A game to decide the Pacific Coast's Rose Bowl representative featured USC's O. J. Simpson and UCLA Quarterback Gary Beban. USC won 21-20, then went on to beat Indiana at Pasadena. Notre Dame won its 500th football game, joining Michigan as the only non- Ivy League school to win that many. A daredevil with the improbable name of Evel Knievel cleared 16 automobiles in a motorcycle jump in Gardena, Calif.
The Olympic Games in Mexico City were among the most controversial yet. There were student riots in the streets and a black-power protest inside the stadium. On the victory stand, as the anthem was played, U.S. sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised black-gloved fists in protest against racial injustice. Smith had won the 200 meters in a world-record 19.8 and Carlos had finished third. Both were suspended from the Games and ordered to leave Mexico within 48 hours. It required a virtually unbelievable long jump by Bob Beamon to brighten the troubled scene. The lanky Beamon jumped 29'2�", nearly two feet farther than anyone before. At Grenoble, Jean-Claude Killy became the second skier in Olympic history to sweep the Alpine events, matching Sailer's 1956 feat.