1881 in sports
1881 in sports describes the year's events in world sports.
- Michigan Wolverines is the first "western" team to travel east and play against the established teams at Harvard Crimson, Yale Bulldogs and Princeton Tigers.
- FA Cup final – Old Carthusians 3–0 Old Etonians at The Oval in the last final to be played between two southern amateur sides.
- Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers both change their venues to enclosed grounds where gate money can be charged, an increasing practice among clubs that are openly (or otherwise) professional.
- Preston North End is founded and plays from the start at Deepdale, which holds the world record for the length of time a venue has been in continuous use by one major league club.
- Burnley FC founded as Burnley Rovers RUFC which decides in May 1882 to switch codes. The Rovers suffix is dropped two years later and the club renamed as Burnley AFC.
- Newcastle United, which has a complicated early history, is founded as Stanley FC by a cricket club in the Byker area of Newcastle.
- Foundation of FC Girondins de Bordeaux.
- 12 March — Andrew Watson makes his Scotland debut, becoming the world's first black international football player
- Scottish Cup final – Queen's Park 3–1 Dumbarton at Hampden Park (replay after Dumbarton protests about the original match which Queen's Park has won 2–1)
- Detroit replaces Cincinnati leaving Cleveland and Providence the southerly cities on the National League circuit. Four others lie on the northerly rail line from stalwart Chicago to stalwart Boston: Detroit, Buffalo, Troy, and Worcester.
- In autumn, for the first time, all eight National League clubs prepare to continue next season.
- Paddy Ryan takes part in a number of exhibition bouts but does not defend his Heavyweight Championship of America title.
- John L. Sullivan continues his rise to the championship with a series of knockout victories, none of them lasting longer than eight rounds.
- Lancashire County Cricket Club wins its first outright title. At the end of the season, an English team led by Alfred Shaw goes to Australia for the 1881–82 Test series.
- Champion County – Lancashire
- Most runs – A. N. Hornby 1,534 @ 40.36 (HS 188)
- Most wickets – Ted Peate 173 @ 12.68 (BB 8–30)
- 23 July — the Federation Internationale de Gymnastique, the world's oldest international sport federation, is founded.
- Grand National – Woodbrook
- 1,000 Guineas Stakes – Thebais
- 2,000 Guineas Stakes – Peregrine
- Epsom Derby – Iroquois
- Epsom Oaks – Thebais
- St. Leger Stakes – Iroquois
- Melbourne Cup – Zulu
- Queen's Plate – Vice Chancellor
The Boat Race
- First U.S. National Singles Championship, precursor of the US Open, won by Richard D. Sears (USA) who defeats William E. Glyn (USA) 6–0 6–3 6–2
- The 5th pre-open era 1881 Men's Tennis season gets underway 27 tournaments are staged this year.
- The New York Yacht Club retains the America's Cup as Mischief defeats Canadian challenger Atalanta, of the Bay of Quinte Yacht Club
- Note that Bramall Lane is actually the oldest professional football venue but it was not adopted by Sheffield United until 1889.
- Cyber Boxing Zone – Paddy Ryan. Retrieved on 12 November 2009.
- Cyber Boxing Zone – John L Sullivan. Retrieved on 12 November 2009.
- A semi-official seasonal title proclaimed by media consensus prior to December 1889 when the official County Championship is constituted.