Category Archives: Sports

Why the Chicago Cubs are Named After a Baby Bear and The Long, Weird History of Their Mascot

1906_Chicago_Cubs

It was a weak ground ball to third base that ended over a century’s worth of baseball futility. On November 3, 2016, the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years. Much like the Red Sox win in 2004 that also put the brakes on a similar streak, it propelled the Cubs into another stratosphere in terms of […]

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The Curious Case of Shizo Kanakuri’s 1912 Olympic Marathon Run

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When it comes to Olympic level track and field events, history tends to only remember those who ran the fastest, jumped the farthest and pushed themselves further than their peers. Shizo Kanakuri is an apparent exception to that rule because he’s fondly remembered for having the worst official time of any Olympic marathon runner in history, taking over 54 years […]

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From Titanic Survivor and Near Amputee to Hall of Fame Tennis Champion- The Story of Dick Williams

richard norris williams

In the early morning of April 15, 1912, 21-year-old Richard “Dick” Norris Williams II was washed off the deck of the doomed RMS Titanic and into the icy water of the North Atlantic. Rescued by a lifeboat, but almost up to his waist in near-frozen water for several hours, Williams suffered such extreme frostbite that medical personnel wanted to immediately […]

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The Origin of Nachos and How Football Helped Popularize Them Surprisingly Recently

football-and-nachos

Americans eat a lot on Super Bowl Sunday, according to one 2015 study consuming triple the amount of their daily allowance of calories per serving during the Super Bowl. In fact, it’s the second largest food consumption day of the year in the country (behind Thanksgiving). Of the many millions of pounds of snacks eaten in honor of America’s (still) […]

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The Bizarre First Super Bowl Halftime Show

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These days, Super Bowl halftime shows are star-studded affairs that can eclipse the game itself. More people watched Madonna’s 2012 halftime performance than the Patriots and Giants matchup (despite it being thrilling). In 2007, everyone remembers Prince crooning “Purple Rain” during an actual torrential rainstorm. Also, the Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears in a rather uneventful game. In 1993, […]

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How the Modern Practice of Cheerleading Morphed from a Masculine to Feminine Activity

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While people have been cheering in one form or another at sporting events  seemingly as long as there have been organized sporting events (for instance, see: The Truth About Gladiators and the Thumbs Up), what we’ve come to know as the “American phenomenon of organized cheerleading” dates back to the 19th century, with its genesis coinciding with the rise of […]

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Inventing the Huddle

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Mike P. asks: Who invented the huddle in football? Prior to the twentieth century, American football teams tended to call their plays via a quarterback simply giving signals while the team either stood in more or less a generic near-set position or back from the line a bit as the quarterback called out what they’d do next. So where did […]

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Did Fidel Castro Really Almost Pitch in the Major Leagues?

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There’s a long history of rulers bragging about their athletic talents. Ancient Egyptian kings sometimes used sporting prowess to show off masculinity and inspire fear. The Roman Emperor Commodus liked to step into the gladiator ring, often asking for already wounded or weakened opponents so he could look superior. (Yes, he was the partial inspiration for the movie Gladiator. Also […]

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Who – or What – was the First Sports Mascot and How Did the Practice Start?

reds-mascot

Nathan M. asks: How did the idea of using animals as mascots for teams start? During lopsided games or pauses in action, it is the sports team’s mascot that keeps fans entertained. Be it with dancing, shooting t-shirts into the crowds or goading opposing coaches into attacking them, mascots make sports a little more fun – even if a few of […]

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Why do Golfers Yell “Fore,” When was the Mulligan First Used, and Other Questions You Might Have Wondered About Golf

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There is a long-standing belief that golf was invented by the Scottish, sometime in the 14th or 15th centuries. This maybe false, at least according to Chinese professors and the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. In 2006, evidence was presented that the game may have originated from the ancient Chinese game “Chuiwan” – loosely translated to “hitting ball.” Two paintings, one […]

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The United States’ First Trip to the Olympics

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The 1890s were a gilded age of sports in America. Backed by the country’s moral and intellectual elite in the form of ministers and urban reformers, institutions like the YMCA were popularized, enforcing the rather novel idea of healthful recreation via organized sports. While this may seem obvious to us today, this was only decades after a time when watching […]

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