Collections,  Stories from The Zone

Sports in the Zone

The PCMC holds a large number of photographs of sports played in the Canal Zone. What sports did you play in the Zone? What was unique about sports in the Canal Zone? Which sports were the most popular or most competitive?

As always, please comment if you have any additional information about the photographs below.

A basketball game between a Canal Zone Team and possibly a Central American Team, circa 1920s.
Latin American Schools tennis players, year unknown.
Balboa High School swim team, year unknown.


  • Robert A Dryja

    I remember as a child in the 1950’s that the Balboa High School football games being major social events. Families bought tickets to enter, standing in line for them. They then sat in the raised, covered bleachers looking down on the playing field. My impression is that the bleachers well completely filled with possibly 300 or more people. You also could look across the playing field to another set of open air bleachers. The teenagers sat over there. One end of these bleachers would have great clouds cigarette smoke rising up.

    The Christobal High School football team regularly beat the Balboa High School team. This occurred in spite of Christobal High School having fewer students. The junior college also had a team and there was a third team composed of students who did not qualify for the high school team. I seem to remember that these teams also won most of the games.

    There was some sort of athletic association for the West Indians who were associated with the Panama Canal operations. They also regularly won events in various sports.

  • Robert Baldwin

    Your picture of the BHS swim team is likely the 1967-1968 school year. My class is 1971 so we would have entered BHS in the 1968 – 1969 school year. Since I don’t see any classmates, it has to be earlier. However, I do recognized kids that were a year of us in school, and they do not looks like sophomores in this picture. You might check the Class of 1968 yearbook to see if this picture is in it (it might, of course, be the year before).

  • Bob Zumbado

    To borrow from Lee Corso, ” Not so fast, Robert Dryja!” I graduated from BHS in 1955. My memory of the football games BHS v. CHS didn’t quite comport with yours so I did a little checking in the yearbooks and the Panama American Sports pages for the seasons of 1951, 52, 53, 54 and 55. At two games per season the record for those years was Balboa 8 wins, 1 loss and 1 tie. This in no way denigrates the Tigers. Their student body was half the size of ours, could outyell us and fought us tooth and nail. We won one game, played on a more than usual muddy field, by a safety, 2 to 0. I didn’t play football, I ran track. Over the years and many reunions I’ve made good friends with many Tigers. One, a great guy who shall remain nameless is gifted with great imagination. He imagines having beaten me in the 220 on the track, never happened, Stan (oops) not even close.

  • Gail Goodrich Totten

    The picture of the B.H.S. swim team is from the 1967-68 school year – there’s a picture with the same people in it in the 1968 Zonian.

  • Kathleen Walker

    Where can one access all of the sports photos held by the PCMC? I would be very interested in looking through all of them – searching for one of the CZ Little League team that went to the US to particpate in the regional Little League World Series playoffs. Likely in 1950 or 1951.

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