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Posts Tagged ‘sports

Batter Up!…

Walt Whitman once said: “Baseball is our game — the American game: I connect it with our national character.” Still, as Foreign Policy observes

As baseball has skyrocketed to popularity in other countries, particularly Japan and Latin American nations, the days of the United States claiming it exclusively are long over. The sport’s premier international tournament, the World Baseball Classic, featured 12 teams from across the globe this year, with the Dominican Republic coasting undefeated all the way to a championship. The tournament set ratings records in Japan, where it was the most-watched sporting event of the year and even out-performed the 2012 Olympics. In Taiwan, the WBC was the highest-rated cable program in the country’s history.

So, as one settles in for Game Three of this year’s Fall Classic– The Battle of the Beards– one might pause to consider Baseball’s place in the world

A pick-up game in Havana, 2006

[More photos-- from South Africa to Iraq to China-- at FP]

Baseball has an estimated 500 million fans around the world… which ranks it seventh overall.  To put that in context, the number one sport, football (or “soccer” as Americans are wont to call it), has 3.5 billion fans; the number two pastime, Cricket, 2.5 billion.

Plus– in this anniversary month of the first box score, a new site called Statlas, updates scoring, turning box scores into infographics.

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As we step up to the plate, we might recall that it was on this date in 1863, at The Freemasons’ Tavern on Great Queen Street in London, that the Football Association (or simply, the FA) was established; after centuries of football rules that varied from pitch to pitch, the FA established a single set of rules that has governed the game in England ever since.  And given that it is the oldest such association in the world, its rules and procedures have shaped the game all over the world.

 source

Written by LW

October 26, 2013 at 1:01 am

Let the games begin…

 

 click here for larger interactive version

If every state in the union had to choose an official sport, what would they pick? Football, football, lacrosse, football, skiing, football, football … and Alaska gets the one with sled dogs. But what if you had to assign one sport to each state, and could use each of those sports just once? How would you disperse our favorite pastimes among the 50 states and Washington, D.C.?

Now that’s a more interesting parlor game. Only 12 states have bothered to name any kind of “official sport,” which leaves a lot of room to impose one’s sporting will on the American people…

And that’s exactly what Josh Levin, executive editor at Slate, has done.  Read the rules he followed and explore the results in detail at “The United Sports of America- If each state could have only one sport, what would it be?

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As we oil our wheels, we might recall that it was on this date in 1845 that the first known baseball box score appeared in the New York Morning News, a month after the first set of rules were written by Alexander Cartwright and some his fellow Knickerbockers.

 source

 

Written by LW

October 22, 2013 at 1:01 am

The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat…

The Olympic Games:  nine days and counting.  As we refresh ourselves on the rules of ribbon dancing and brush up on badminton, we might spare a moment to recall some of the events that have been dropped– “discontinued”– by the Olympics…

Horse Long Jump

While the long jump event has tested the athletic prowess of track and field stars from around the world, back in the Paris Games of 1900, horses were given the chance to show off how far they could leap. As part of the equestrian events, horse long jump only had one Olympics to make its mark and it failed to do so spectacularly. No one could accuse equestrian horses of not being athletic, yet the winning leap, from Belgium’s Constant van Langendonck atop the horse Extra Dry, measured only 6.10 meters. Not too shabby, until you consider the world record for long jump, by a human, is 8.95 meters.

Distance Plunging

Though part of the aquatics program at St. Louis in 1904, the distance plunge event seems to have more in common with a children’s game than an Olympic sport (which might explain why it’s never returned to the Games). The event required athletes to dive into the pool and coast underwater without moving their limbs. After 60 seconds had passed – or competitors had floated to the surface, whichever came first – referees measured the distance the athletes had drifted. The gold medal winner was U.S. athlete William Dickey, although, it should be noted, only Americans competed in the event.

Seven other expired events at Time‘s “9 Really Strange Sports That Are No Longer in the Olympics.

And on the heel of the London authorities unplugging The Boss and Sir Paul mid-song, a look at local reactions to the London Olympic authorities’ authoritarian antics.

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As we practice in preparation for the inclusion of beer-pong in 2016, we might recall that it was on this date in 1927 that “The Georgia Peach,” Ty Cobb, recorded his 4,000th career hit.  Cobb finished out his Major League Baseball career the next year with a grand total of 4,191 hits– which stood as a record until 1985, when it was surpassed by Pete “What are the Odds” Rose.  Cobb was in the inaugural class of five elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Ty Cobb (left) and Joe Jackson

source: Library of Congress

Written by LW

July 18, 2012 at 1:01 am

The Fighting Phalanges!…

Finger wrestling has been used in the Alps as a method of resolving disputes since the 17th century.  Now, dueling with digits has become a sport.

Two contestants sit facing each other across a large table, with their fingers threaded into a strong strap. On a signal from the referee, the contest begins, and the competitors pull as hard as they can.  The winner is the competitor who successfully pulls their opponent across the table, using just their finger.

In Bavaria, the home of finger wrestling, it’s serious business.  Competitors train their fingers for the intense strain (and pain) of competition, by squeezing tennis balls, holding their body weight on their competitive finger, and doing one-finger press-ups…  While wrestlers are free to use any finger they wish, the finger of choice is, of course, the middle finger.

Read more about finger wrestling, and see video of the recently-completed 35th Annual Finger Wrestling Championship, at The Sun.

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As we flex our phalanges, we might send prodigious birthday greeting to G.K. Chesterton; he was born on this date in 1874.  The author of 80 books, several hundred poems, over 200 short stories, 4000 essays, and several plays, he was a literary and social critic, historian, playwright, novelist, Catholic theologian and apologist, debater, and mystery writer. Chesterton was a columnist for the Daily News, the Illustrated London News, and his own paper, G. K.’s Weekly, and wrote articles for the Encyclopædia Britannica.  Chesterton created the priest-detective Father Brown, who appeared in a series of short stories, and had a huge influence on the development of the mystery genre; his best-known novel is probably The Man Who Was Thursday.

Chesterton’s faith, which he defended in print and speeches, brought him into conflict with the most famous atheist of the time, George Bernard Shaw, who said (on the death of his “friendly enemy”), “he was a man of colossal genius.”

George Bernard Shaw, Hilaire Belloc, and G. K. Chesterton

source

Written by LW

May 29, 2012 at 1:01 am

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