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Posts Tagged ‘Olympics

“I’m so unfamiliar with the gym, I call it James”*…

 

These wonderful photographs, which make such innovative use of multiple exposure, are from a 1913 German book titled Schwedische Haus-Gymnastik nach dem System P.H. Ling’s by Theodor Bergquist, Director of the Swedish Gymnastic Institute in the Bavarian spa town of Bad Wörishofen. As the title tells us, this style of “Swedish house-gymnastics” demonstrated by Bergquist (and his mysterious female colleague) is based on a system developed by Pehr Henrik Ling (1776–1839), a pioneer in the teaching of physical education in Sweden. Inventor of various physical education apparatus including the box horse, wall bars, and beams, Ling is also credited with establishing calisthenics as a distinct discipline and is considered by some as the father of Swedish massage.

* Ellen DeGeneres

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As we affirm our faithfulness to fitness, we might spare a thought for Wilhelm Weber; he died on this date in 1963.  A German gymnast, he medaled twice for his country at the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis.

The 1904 German Olympic team

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“The Olympic Games… purport to follow the traditions of an ancient athletics competition, but today it is the commercial aspect that is most apparent”*…

 

The above graphic from HowMuch.net, a cost information site, visualizes data from a recent study by Oxford University to compare the budgets of previous games.

The study found the average cost overruns for Olympic Games to be a whopping 156% from 1968 to 2016. This means that the Rio Games were a budgeting success, at least in relative terms, by ‘only’ running 51% overbudget.

It should be noted that the study accounts only for sports-related costs, such as those relating to operations or building venues. The study excludes indirect capital costs such as upgrading transport or hotel infrastructure, since data on these costs is harder to come by, and is often unreliable. Also, some Olympic Games were omitted from the study, as they did not have available public data on the costs involved.

The good news for organizers is that cost overruns, as a percentage, are generally going down.

The 1976 Summer Games in Montreal caught everyone off guard after going 720% overbudget, and the city was saddled with debt for 30 years. Lake Placid (1980), Barcelona (1992), and Lillehammer (1994) were all grossly overbudget as well with 324%, 266%, and 277% overruns respectively.

However, recent games – with the exception of Sochi (289%) – have all been pretty good as far as Olympics go. The average cost overrun since 1998 has been just 73%.

The bad news for organizers is that costs, in general, are still going way up. Organizers are just getting slightly “better” at budgeting for them.

Here are the total costs for all games in the study – note that costs are adjusted to be in 2015 terms.

More– and enlargeable/zoomable versions of the graphics– at “Rio Games a success at ‘only’ 51% over budget.”

* Ai Weiwei

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As we pass the torch, we might note that it was on this date in 1791 that the town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts voted to ban the game of baseball (and other activities that had disturbed many of the townspeople).

Until about a decade ago, it was widely believed that baseball was created by Abner Doubleday (or his contemporary Alexander Cartwright) in 1846; and indeed, the “modern” game– baseball as we know it– was. But historian Jim Thorn’s discovery of the Pittsfield Bylaw, fifty-five years older, is the earliest known reference to the game.

The relevant section: Be it ordained by the said Inhabitants that no person or Inhabitant of said Town‚ shall be permitted to play at any game called Wicket‚ Cricket‚ Baseball‚ Batball‚ Football‚ Cats‚ Fives or any other games played with Ball‚ within the Distance of eighty yards from said Meeting House – And every such Person who shall play at any of the said games or other games with Ball within the distance aforesaid‚ shall for every Instance thereof‚ forfeit the Sum of five shillings to be recovered by Action of Debt brought before any Justice of the Peace to the Person who shall and prosecute therefore And be it further ordained that in every Instance where any Minor shall be guilty of a Breach of this Law‚ his Parent‚ Master‚ Mistress or guardian shall forfeit the like Sum to be recovered in manner‚ and to the use aforesaid.

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Written by LW

September 5, 2016 at 1:01 am

“I don’t flip. I don’t even dive into a pool – straight cannonball for me”*…

 

These pretty diagrams of types of high dives performed in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm are from the official report summarizing the events of the games, published in 1913. (The book has been digitized by the University of Toronto and is available in full on the Internet Archive.)

At the time of this Olympics, diving was a young sport. Its history was rooted in 19th-century Sweden and Germany, where gymnasts experimented with tumbling routines that ended in the water. Swedish divers traveled to Great Britain in the late 1890s and made exhibition dives, which prompted British enthusiasts to found an Amateur Diving Association in 1901. In 1912, which was the first year that women’s diving was included in the Games, Swedish athletes won gold in men’s and women’s 10-meter platform diving, as well as men’s plain high diving.

The handbook summarizes the degree of difficulty for the dives depicted here, with the hardest being the flying somersault forwards and Isander’s dive. (The Isander and Mollberg dives were both named after the Swedish divers who invented them.)

More in the remarkable Rebecca Onion‘s “Graceful Minimalist Diagrams of Early-20th-Century Olympic High Dives.”

* Rob Lowe

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As we tuck and roll, we might send mellifluous baritone birthday greetings to Christopher Eugene “Chris” Schenkel; he was born on this date in 1923.  A career sportscaster perhaps best remembered as the voice (for almost 40 years) of professional bowling, he was a regular announcer on ABC’s Olympics broadcasts.  Indeed, contrary to current popular belief, Schenkel, not Jim McKay, anchored ABC’s prime time coverage of the ill-fated 1972 Summer Olympics: when the terrorist attacks (otherwise known as the Munich Massacre) occurred, Schenkel was asleep after hosting the previous night’s coverage live from Munich from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. local time.  McKay, who was on his way to the Stadium for track and field coverage, was told to return to the ABC studio to report on the situation unfolding at the Olympic Village.  Schenkel returned to anchor Olympic coverage after the Games resumed.

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Written by LW

August 21, 2015 at 1:01 am

Citius, Altius, Fortius*…

It’s that time again– the Games are underway…

The Olympics promise many things–triumph of the human spirit, amazing athletic prowess, upsets and underdogs–but the most modern games are ultimately nothing if not a massive, global spectacle. Gustavo Sousa, a painter and creative director at Mother’s London office, was interested in exploring behind the pomp and circumstance. “Events like these can be a good time for reflection.” Oceaniaeuropeamericaasiaafrica illustrates stripped-down statistics from each region through simple scale shifts of the tournament’s iconic quintet of overlapping loops.“The rings represent healthy competition and union, but we know the world isn’t perfect. Maybe understanding the differences is the first step to try to make things more equal.”

Read more at Co-Design, and see more at Oceaniaeuropeamericaasiaafrica.

* “faster, higher, stronger”– the Olympic motto

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As we settle in for the marathon, we might recall that it was on this date in 1895 that Louis Lassen served the first “hamburger” sandwich… at least, according to the Library of Congress.

Louis Lassen, founder of Louis’ Lunch, ran a small lunch wagon selling steak sandwiches to local factory workers. Because he didn’t like to waste the excess beef from his daily lunch rush, he ground it up, grilled it, and served it between two slices of bread — and America’s first hamburger was created.

It will not surprise readers to know that there are many other claimants to that singular honor.

 Louis Lassen (source)

Written by LW

July 28, 2012 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

G Whiz…

In Rio, at the 2016 Olympics, the same jump will get an athlete >1 cm higher than that jump at the London Olympics in 2012…

From the ever-illuminating xkcd.

As we rethink our choice of venue, we might wish a humorously absurd Happy Birthday to Terry Jones, author, screenwriter, director, actor, television host– and most famously, founding member of Monty Python.  He was born on this date in 1942.  Among his many awards, “9622 Terryjones,” an asteroid in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, was named in his honor.

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