Category Archives: Sports

Why the French-Founded Notre Dame School’s Athletic Teams are the “Fighting Irish”

Nathan K. asks: Why is Notre Dame’s slogan “Fighting Irish”? When the green and blue uniformed athletes of the University of Notre Dame run on to the field or court, their fans are rooting for the “Fighting Irish.” Represented by a small green leprechaun- hat tilted with his fists up, ready to fight- the athletic teams of this South Bend, […]

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Who Invented the Sporting Wave?

Karla asks: Who invented the Mexican wave? The wave, also generally known as the “Mexican wave” outside of the United States, was the brain-child of the longest continuously active professional cheerleader (41 years and counting), Krazy George Henderson, in the late 1970s. It made its national debut on October 15, 1981 in a playoff game between the Oakland Athletics and […]

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Bowling and the Ancient Egyptians

Guy H. asks: Who invented bowling? Bowling has a rather vague history, with a form of it possibly dating back as far as 5000 years to the ancient Egyptians. This story starts with the turn of the century archeologist  William Matthews Flinders Petrie, or simply Flinders Petrie. By 1895, he had already established himself as, perhaps, the world’s leading Egyptologist. 18 […]

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How Dwight D. Eisenhower Playing Semi-Pro Baseball for a Handful of Games Nearly Changed American History

U.S. Presidents and sports have always been connected. Gerald Ford played football as a University of Michigan undergrad. George H.W. Bush played in the first two College World Series. George W. Bush was part owner of the Texas Rangers’ baseball franchise. Barack Obama frequently plays pickup basketball games with his staff (no doubt all terrified of accidentally hurting the Commander-in-Chief […]

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When a New York Yankee Beat an Ostrich in a Spaghetti-Eating Contest

The date was April 3, 1919. The location was the South Side Pavilion in sunny Jacksonville, Florida. The occasion was a much-hyped competition of gastronomical strength between Ping Bodie, the five foot eight and 190 pound New York Yankee outfielder, versus the “world’s greatest eater,” an ostrich named Percy. They were to engage in a spaghetti-eating contest to determine, once […]

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How March Got So Mad: The Story Behind the NCAA Basketball Tournament

Every spring, a sort of illness strikes millions of Americans. Symptoms include screaming uncontrollably in celebration, panic sweating, obsessing over hastily filled-out brackets, sitting motionless in front of a television for hours, and wearing the bright colors of a college individuals attended many years ago. It’s called “March Madness” and it’s arguably the most popular sporting tournament in America. But […]

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The First Person to Play for Both Baseball’s National League and American League All-Star Teams was a Woman: Lizzie “The Queen of Baseball” Murphy

On August 14, 1922, a collection of baseball stars gathered at Fenway Park in Boston. An exhibition all-star game had been set-up to honor and raise money for the family of Tommy “Little Mac” McCarthy- Boston Red Sox great in the 1880s and 1890s. The game featured the Boston Red Sox, World Series champs only three seasons ago, versus a […]

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Why Three Strikes in a Row in Bowling is Called a “Turkey”

This is thought to have its origins in bowling tournament prizes. Late eighteenth and early nineteenth century prizes given out during these tournaments were often food items, such as a basket filled with various grocery items, a large ham, or the like. Particularly around Thanksgiving in the United States, turkeys became common prizes. At some point (no one knows the […]

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Why “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is Sung During the 7th Inning Stretch of Major League Baseball Games

You might be surprised to learn that this staple of Major League Baseball games is actually something of a modern practice, first starting as a regular part of the seventh inning stretch with the White Sox in the late 1970s, thanks to Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Carabina, better known as Harry Caray. Before this, the song had occasionally been […]

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Why Figure Skaters Don’t Seem Dizzy After Spinning

Justina asks: Why don’t figure skaters get dizzy after they spin? To understand why, it’s important to know why people get dizzy in the first place. Dizziness is controlled by the vestibular system in your upper inner ear. Within the vestibular system, there are three canals that contain fluid called endolymph, as well as sensory nerve cells that look sort […]

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The Human Windmill: The Best Boxer You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Indefinably fearless and nearly unstoppable—this doesn’t come close to adequately describing the boxing phenomenon Harry Greb. “The Pittsburgh Windmill” as he’s known among his most devout circle of fans, was born in June of 1894. Boxing historian Eric Jorgensen had this to say about Greb: Greb may have been the greatest fighter, pound-for-pound, who ever lived. Certainly, he was among […]

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