On June 12 Major League Baseball players went on strike over the issue of free-agency compensation. The strike lasted 49 days.
The Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series 4 games to 2 over the New York Yankees. The Series MVP is a three-way tie between Ron Cey, Pedro Guerrero, and Steve Yeager.
NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship:
Indiana wins 63-50 over North Carolina
Boston Celtics won 4 games to 2 over the Houston Rockets
04/11: Larry Holmes defeats Trevor Berbick by a unanimous decision to retain the WBC heavyweight title.
09/16: Sugar Ray Leonard defeats Thomas "Hitman" Hearns by knockout in round 14 to unify boxing's world Welterweight title.
10/3: Mike Weaver defeats James (Quick) Tillis by a unanimous decision to retain the WBA/World Boxing Association heavyweight title.
The Oakland Raiders defeat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 to win Super Bowl XV.
Masters Tournament: Tom Watson
U.S. Open: David Graham
British Open: Bill Rogers
PGA Championship: Larry Nelson
PGA Tour money leader: Tom Kite $375,699
LPGA Championship: Donna Caponi
U.S. Women's Open: Pat Bradley
Classique Peter Jackson Classic: Jan Stephenson
LPGA Tour money leader: Beth Daniel $206,998
The New York Islanders defeat the Minnesota North Stars to win the 1981 Stanley Cup
Triple Crown Races:
Kentucky Derby: Pleasant Colony
Preakness Stakes: Pleasant Colony
Belmont Stakes: Summing
NASCAR Championship: Darrell Waltrip
Daytona 500: Richard Petty
CART Racing: Rick Mears won the season championship
Indianapolis 500: Bobby Unser
Formula One Champion: Nelson Piquet of Brazil
NHRA Top Fuel championship: Gary Beck
Men's Grand Slam:
Australian Open: Johan Kriek
French Open: Björn Borg
Wimbledon: John McEnroe
US Open: John McEnroe
Women's Grand Slam:
Australian Open: Martina Navratilova
French Open: Hana Mandlíková
Wimbledon: Chris Evert
US Open: Tracy Austin