In addition to buffalo hunting or cattle herding, early residents of Dodge City did have physical fitness in mind.
Dr. Thomas L. McCarty arrived in Dodge City in 1872. As a medical doctor, Thomas was interested in physical fitness. This passion, coupled with the 1884 invention of improved roller skates with ball bearings, prompted Dr. McCarty to convert an old theater into a roller skating rink in 1885. This structure also served as an opera house and occasionally as a church.
In 1873, Dr. McCarty had a son, Claude, who was Dodge City's first recorded birth. Following in his father's footsteps, Claude McCarty became a physician and practiced medicine with his father until 1930 when Thomas died. He also followed his father as an athlete as a photograph of him as a young man depicts in a football uniform with a football.
In the early days of Dodge City bicycles were difficult to steer, uncomfortable, slow and unsafe and had at least one wheel that was ridiculously high.
By the 1890's these drawbacks were overcome when the high-wheeled bicycles with hard rubber tires were replaced by bikes that had smaller wheels with air-filled tires, chain drives and more efficient steering mechanisms. As a result, cycling became a craze among both Europe's and North America's middle and upper classes; both as a form of transportation and leisure.
Dodge City did its part in participating in this craze with its bicycle races in the late 1890's. Many of Dodge City's leading citizens participated in these races.
On September 24, 1896 a big race with over 200 cyclists took place west of A.J. Anthony’s farm one mile west of Dodge City. The second race was a quarter-mile dash where Merritt Beeson took home an $8 opera glass as winner, and Robert Rath placed second receiving a $2 watch guard.
The championship of the Dodge City Wheel Club was at stake in the next race. Beeson just barely beat out Rath to win a $15 shotgun, Rath, who won an electric alarm clock, protested the results. Two prominent Dodge Citians only known as "Jaybird" and "Toad" raced to a virtual tie in a half-mile race. The deciding factor between second and first was the fact Jaybird did not smoke, so the first place prize a smoking set went to Toad while Jaybird took home a cane. And in a " Five-Mile Bicycle Race" Merritt Beeson won with a time of 14 minutes and 38 seconds while riding a yellow bike and wearing a yellow suit.
Baseball joined the fitness craze. In May 1884 Bat Masterson came back to Dodge City for just enough time to found a city baseball club along with ex-mayor Webster, Robert M. Wright and W. H. Harris.
And the craze continues on to the present. With the opening of Dodge City High School in the 1890's, the game of football came to Dodge. The football team, and other DCHS teams were at first called the "D-men," which over the years has become the Red Demons.