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A Brief History of the AAU, by Ira Smolev

October 23, 2012

The Amateur Athletic Union, or AAU, began in 1888 with the goal of improving amateur sports around the U.S. During its first year as an organization, the AAU held championship matches in boxing, wrestling, and fencing. By 1897, the organization added basketball to the sports it oversaw. At the time, the goal of improving amateur sports meant those for men and boys, but change would come to the group in succeeding decades.

By 1915, before women had the right to vote in the United States, the AAU began recognizing women’s sports. The group’s efforts helped the U.S. win all but one Gold Medal in women’s swimming events at the 1920 Olympics. In 1925, the AAU expanded its offerings for women, adding track and field, fencing, volleyball, dodge ball, and basketball. The following year, the group held the first championship tournament for women’s basketball.

As the country’s needs changed, so did the AAU. In 1942, it introduced a program to promote all-around physical fitness, and in the 1990s and beyond, it started partnering with corporations to promote its message of health and fitness around the country.

About Ira Smolev:
As a college basketball player, Ira Smolev won All City honors and had the opportunity to play in three National Championship games. Mr. Smolev earned recognition as an All Star in the AAU League three years in a row.

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