1981 in sports

1981 in sports describes the year's events in world sport.

Years in sports: 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984
Centuries: 19th century · 20th century · 21st century
Decades: 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s
Years: 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984

Alpine skiingEdit

American footballEdit

Artistic gymnasticsEdit

Association footballEdit

Australian rules footballEdit

  • Victorian Football League
    • May 23 – A protest by Richmond against the eligibility of defender Doug Cox to play for St. Kilda led to the Saints temporarily losing the points for their first two wins. They were reinstated later due to changes in the relevant rules, but a fine of $5000 remained.
    • June 6 – Richmond’s Kevin Bartlett became the first to play 350 VFL games.
    • Carlton win the 85th VFL Premiership, beating Collingwood 12.20 (92) to 10.12 (72)
    • Brownlow Medal awarded to Barry Round (South Melbourne) and Bernie Quinlan (Fitzroy)
    • At the end of the season, South Melbourne relocate to Sydney and are renamed the Sydney Swans.




Canadian footballEdit


Dogsled racingEdit

Field hockeyEdit

  • Men's World Cup held in Kuala Lumpur won by USSR
  • Men's Champions Trophy held in Karachi won by the Netherlands
  • Women's World Cup held in Buenos Aires won by West Germany

Figure skatingEdit

Gaelic Athletic AssociationEdit


Men's professional

Men's amateur

Women's professional

Harness racingEdit

Horse racingEdit

  • August 30 – John Henry becomes the first horse to win a million dollar race, the inaugural Arlington Million, at Arlington Park in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, Illinois.
  • November – inaugural running of the Japan Cup, the most prestigious horse race in Japan, at Tokyo Racecourse in Fuchu, Tokyo. Its distance is about 1½ miles on turf and it is the world's richest turf race.


Flat races

Quarter Horse Racing

Ice hockeyEdit


Rugby leagueEdit

Rugby unionEdit



  • August 15 – USA's Robin Leamy of UCLA sets a world record time of 22.54 in the 50m freestyle (long course) at Brown Deer, Wisconsin, shaving 0.17 off the previous record (22.71) set by Joseph Bottom exactly one year ago in Honolulu, Hawaii



Water poloEdit

Multi-sport eventsEdit