Category Archives: Sports

Inventing the Huddle

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

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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The United States’ First Trip to the Olympics

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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Did Fidel Castro Really Almost Pitch in the Major Leagues?

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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The Strange Story of the First Person Disqualified From the Olympics for Doping

Olympians have been bending (and occasionally breaking) the rules in an effort to give themselves an edge over the competition since the games began. Despite this, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) only started testing for performance enhancing substances in 1968, and only seem to have really started taking the issue seriously in the 1990s. As for the 1968 Games, despite that a […]

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The Silver Medal Shocker

The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader THREE SECONDS TO GOLD! Before 1972 no U.S. men’s basketball team had ever lost in Olympic play. Starting in 1936 (the year basketball became an Olympic sport), U.S. men’s teams won 63 consecutive games—and seven straight gold medals. But just after midnight on September 10, 1972, in Munich, Germany, that […]

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The Barkley Marathons, a 60 Hour Race so Intense Only 14 of Over 1,000 Ultramarathoners Have Ever Completed It

The Brushy Mountain Penitentiary, where they used to house some of the worst of the worst criminals, is located on the eastern side of Frozen Head State Park in the Tennessee mountains. Although escape attempts were rare, the prison’s ideal location reduced the chances of prisoners safely making it back to civilization. Beyond being a maximum security prison, if an […]

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The Trials and Tribulations of 1904 Olympic Marathon Runners

When the United States hosted the Olympics for the first time in 1904, the games had yet to reach the high level of competition and popularity we know today. Although athletes from countries around the world were invited to participate, the games were less about the world’s best athletes competing for medals and more about (actual) amateur athletes competing against […]

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That Time an Olympic Rower Stopped to Let Some Ducks Swim By and Still Won the Gold Medal

Born in Sydney Australia in 1905, Henry Robert Pearce, better known as Bobby Pearce, dominated the world of competitive rowing throughout the 1920s and 1930s and was extremely popular with fans of the sport due to a combination of the ease with which he seemed to best opponents and his affable personality. Perhaps the greatest example of both of these […]

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Who Invented Pole Vaulting?

Meri K. asks: Who invented pole vaulting? Although it’s difficult to find written accounts, it appears that people have been propelling themselves through the air with poles since ancient times. In fact, depictions of people leaping with poles can be found as far back as 400 BC. A practical and inexpensive way to traverse swampy marshy areas, propelling over wet […]

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