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Knur & Spell was an ancient game long played in northern England that’s like a cross between a golf long drive contest and T-Ball. In Yorkshire a machine tosses the ball in the air for the player to smack. In Lancashire, the ball was merely suspended from a loop of string. In both cases, the player hits it as far as he can, and the longest bash wins. It was big in the 1930s and somewhat revived in the 1970s, but has now faded almost out of existence.

My guess is that before railroads came along in the 19th Century, there were hundreds of somewhat different sports played across Europe by local rules, much as there were many more languages and/or dialects before the printing press. There wasn’t much need to standardize sports because travel was so difficult that most athletes just competed against their neighbors under locally agreed upon rules.

For example, at the beginning of the American Civil War, Boston and New York City had quite different forms of baseball. But the War nationalized baseball. Union soldiers played a lot of baseball in Army camps during the war, and the players from other states came to prefer the New York rules over the Boston rules. (The South didn’t experience the same process, so the South wasn’t as baseball-oriented until the 20th Century. Ty Cobb, the Georgia Peach, who played from 1905-1928 might have been the first really famous baseball player from a Deep South state.)

Some of these old sports adapted to local geography still survive in England such as the Eton Wall Game and Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide mob football.

Today’s biggest sports are the survivors of a process that began when railways could allow athletes to conveniently go to road games. If Rugby was going to play Charterhouse and Eton, they needed to agree on the rules for the game: could you, for example, pick up the ball and run with it? Senior athletes spent a lot of time around 1870 attending conventions at railway station hotels hashing out consensus to govern their sport, or failing to as seen in the historic split between Rugby and the Association that meant that rugby and soccer are now separate separate.

Anglosphere sports dominate the world today. I don’t know if that is solely because countries like Britain and the U.S. were the first to have big train networks. Or did the English-speaking countries have some other cultural advantage, such as a greater interest in sport, less of a reliance on central government for direction, more initiative, or more sense of fair play? In the late 19th Century, there were often Anglophiles and Anglophobes in countries like France (e.g., Jules Verne and Baron de Coubertin were French Anglophiles) and Argentina. All agreed that sport was central to Englishness.

 
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  1. It’s funny how even with modern communication, some sports have different variations just because the rules committee split. The differences aren’t as vast as the difference between rugby and soccer, but they are obvious.

    For instance, there is no reason why a Canadian Football field is 110×65 yd and there is 12 to a side except that a different group of men wrote the rules. Even in college sports, the rules for women’s and men’s college basketball are different just because they have 2 separate rules committees. For the sake of finances, they have agreed on the size of the court, the height of the rim, &c, but there is no good reason why women play 4 quarters while men play 2 halves.

    • Replies: @Hail
    , @Ron Mexico
  2. Bashing things with sticks has a long history. I daresay it helps the chaps relieve pent up tension, so they don’t use the stick on the missus.

    Personally I would like to have a go at hornussen, which looks a bit like hitting a hockey puck off a miniature ski slope, using a particularly long, particularly flexible fly-fishing rod with a can of beans stuck on the whippy end… while people downrange try to harsh your buzz by chucking home-made paddles at the hockey puck to interrupt its flight.

    It also appears that a BMI in the low 30s is mandatory.

    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
  3. Kronos says:

    Looks like national competitive eating took a while to catch up.

    Wikipedia

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competitive_eating

    Traditionally, eating contests, often involving pies, were events at county fairs. The recent surge in the popularity of competitive eating is due in large part to the development of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest, an annual holiday tradition that has been held on July 4 virtually every year since the 1970s at Coney Island.[1] In 2001, Takeru Kobayashi ate 50 hot dogs – smashing the previous record (25.5). The event generates enormous media attention and has been aired on ESPN for the past eight years, contributing to the growth of the competitive eating phenomenon. Kobayashi won the competition every year from 2001 until 2006, but was dethroned in 2007 by Joey Chestnut. In 2008, Chestnut and Kobayashi tied at 59 hot dogs in 10 minutes (the time span had previously been 12 minutes), and Chestnut won in an eat-off in which he was the first of the two competitors to finish eating 5 hot dogs, earning him a second consecutive title. Kobayashi holds six Guinness World Records, for eating hot dogs, meatballs, Twinkies, hamburgers, and pizza. He competed in hot dog contests in 2011 and 2012 and claimed to have eaten 68 and 69. The current champion is Chestnut, with a total of 74 hot dogs and buns eaten on July 4, 2018.[2]

    • Replies: @Achmed E. Newman
  4. Twinkie says:

    Not only were there many different forms of wrestling too numerous count around the world, even the British isles had different varieties of folk wrestling that have all but disappeared, due to standardization and cultural homogenization.

    • Replies: @PiltdownMan
  5. Anon[251] • Disclaimer says:

    But Japan will always have pan-pon, and the rules will never change.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @jim jones
  6. Anonymous[723] • Disclaimer says:

    Back in the day, when the UK’s ITV television network actually made programs worth watching, a show entitled ‘The Indoor League’ hosted by ‘Yorkshire Cricket Legend’, (as I’m obliged to call him), Freddie Trueman, was popular. The show featured various advance old English ‘pub games’ such as shove ha’penny, skittles, arm wrestling etc. Having generally lousy weather, especially in winter, pub games – in the pre computer era – are neglected area of British sport, having many quirky regional variations.
    The Indoor League was also memorable for its original theme tune, the excellent ‘Waiting for You’ by that eccentric Belgian Andre Brasseur.

    • Replies: @Henry's Cat
    , @J.Ross
    , @Logan
  7. The Duke of Wellington’s comment about the Battle of Waterloo being won on the playing fields of Eton was made c. 1825, four years before Stephenson’s Rocket, the first practical railway locomotive, was unveiled. I think it’s safe to say the notion of organized sports embodying important adult virtues was well established in the England of two hundred years ago.

    Train travel may well have erased local differences in sports rules around Victorian Britain, but how to explain the phenomenon of British sports becoming universal sports?

    The fact of Empire explains their spread around the British Commonwealth, but I wonder what caused European, especially French, acceptance? The French had their own empire and were hardly in awe of Britain’s culture and those then “modern” values of the Victorians.

  8. @Twinkie

    Scottish backhold still survives.

    I remember reading that Indian, Persian, Turkish and various Central Asian forms of wrestling still continue, though youths are now attracted to the Olympic standard Greco-Roman form in those countries because of the possibilities for competing internationally.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Gama

    • Replies: @Twinkie
  9. Dave Pinsen says: • Website
    @Kratoklastes

    Switzerland has other “field” sports involving throwing heavy stuff too. Read about that in an FT article about some summer festival there.

    • Replies: @prosa123
  10. Anglosphere sports dominate the world today. I don’t know if that is solely because countries like Britain and the U.S. were the first to have big train networks. Or did the English-speaking countries have some other cultural advantage, such as a greater interest in sport, less of a reliance on central government for direction, more initiative, or more sense of fair play? In the late 19th Century, there were often Anglophiles and Anglophobes in countries like France (e.g., Jules Verne and Baron de Coubertin were French Anglophiles) and Argentina. All agreed that sport was central to Englishness.

    I have only a superficial knowledge of (relatively) modern sports, but it seems to me that 20th C- 21th C sport is a completely different phenomenon from the 19th C sports, most of them Anglospheroid in origin. Now, this is something that has more in common with late Roman circus than with anything we mentally connect either with ruling classes in Eton or rural fun in the Appalachia.

  11. Dave Pinsen says: • Website
    @PiltdownMan

    Yeah, trains may explain the standardization, but not the sports themselves. All of the most popular world sports were invented by Anglos.

    Trains may help explain how basketball spread, but not why it was invented by Scottish Canadian-American instead of a Chinese or a Russian or a Libyan or whatever.

    • Replies: @Cowboy shaw
    , @inertial
  12. There may be some question as to whether the Duke actually said that. Just as his famous quote about being born in Ireland not making one Irish was falsely attributed.
    Perhaps the Battle of Waterloo could be said to have been won on the fields where Irish hurling was played,given the huge number of Irish who served under him.

    • Replies: @Pat Hannagan
    , @Anonymous
  13. anon[391] • Disclaimer says:
    @PiltdownMan

    Professional Sport started in England in the 18th C, and Bull baiting and Bear baiting had a much longer history.
    I read somewhere that the 4 minute mile was first broken in the 1780s by professional runners.
    Bedlam was a great game played in schoolyards in Queensland, it was banned decades ago.

  14. Hail says: • Website
    @ScarletNumber

    there is no reason why a Canadian Football field is 110×65 yd and there is 12 to a side

    Maybe some editor of the Canadian Football rulebook pencilled those numbers in entirely as a joke solely to one-up the USA on both field size and men on field– but no one ever pencilled them out.

  15. @anon

    We played bullrush in New Zealand. Awesome fun. Long banned.

  16. If anyone is interested in subtle innovations in rugby, the All Blacks are rolling out something pretty innovative in the current World Cup in Japan. They’ve moved their playmaker to the fullback position and brought in a second playmaker. A bit like playing two quarterbacks I suppose. It’s an attempt to breakdown the stifling defences and is something no other team really has the players to copy at the moment. Will change the game if it comes off. They play Ireland in the quarter finals this weekend.

  17. @Dave Pinsen

    I’ve always thought the miserable winter in the uk had a lot to do with it. Good to have a run around to stave off vitamin d deficiency and fortunately no snow on the ground.

  18. On the theory of he who pays the fiddler calls the tune, perhaps we should have a law that says all sports leagues who play in taxpayer funded stadia shall have their rules reviewed and amended by the legislature, or a committee they shall designate to do so.

    In men’s basketball, raise the basket or ban players over a certain height, or make the “talls” and “shorts” switch out like men and women would do in Roller Derby when it was mixed.

    In baseball make them deaden and enlarge the ball, or in some other way make it like it was before PEDs came out.

    And so forth.

    Sports would quit playing in taxpayer funded stadia rather than put up with that, which is the real point.

  19. Hhsiii says:

    Stan Laurel plays something somewhat like Knur & Spell in Babes in Toyland

  20. Deogolwulf says: • Website

    “All agreed that sport was central to Englishness.”

    According to Maurice Samuel, the notorious anti-Gentile (well alright, he might have been notorious in a different world . . . ) who grew up in England and spent his adult life in America, sport was central to “Gentile” (i.e., white) life in general, and reflects its spiritual unseriousness. It can’t be denied that we are easily diverted by sports, a weakness that can be exploited.

    • Replies: @donvonburg
    , @Brutusale
  21. @PiltdownMan

    It’s amazing to see how much they love their rugby in the south of France – the village side is usually much more important than the soccer side. There’s even a chapel to Our Lady Of Rugby, where French internationals hang their shirts.

    https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapelle_Notre-Dame-du-Rugby

    According to the trad games site, Knur and Spell may still be played at some pubs, but I don’t know how up to date the information is. I checked out the Tempest Arms site and nothing looked very traditional, with its Executive Suites and Club Rooms.

    https://www.tradgames.org.uk/locations/knur-spell.htm

    There’s still Quoits, played in North Yorkshire and South Durham.

    • Replies: @prosa123
    , @Rohirrimborn
  22. @Father O'Hara

    The Battle of Waterloo was won in the beer halls of Prussia.

    Pseudohistory was born at Eton.

    Another English pursuit they developed a world class excellence and still excel today.

    • LOL: LondonBob
  23. @anon

    I read somewhere that the 4 minute mile was first broken in the 1780s by professional runners.

    The 4 minute mile was famously broken by Dr. Roger Bannister in 1954, although I recently learned that he used pacers as well.

    It was such a psychological barrier that once he showed it could be done, others started doing it right away. John Landy (still alive at 89) did it only 46 days later. The two then raced against each other at the Empire Games that year, with both of them breaking the barrier.

    Bannister then retired from athletics to concentrate on his career as a doctor, while Landy competed at the 1956 Olympics in his home country of Australia. Since the Olympics are metric, there is no mile race per se, but in the 1500m Landy came in third to Ron Delaney of Ireland (still alive at 84).

    For those wondering, 1500m is 6.8% shorter than a mile. The equivalent time in the 1500m is 3:43.6, which 8 runners broke in the 1956 Olympics.

    The first time all three medalists broke the 4-minute mile at the Empire Games was 1966 Jamaica. Coincidentally, this was the last time the mile was raced, since the games switched to Metric in 1970. The winner in 1966 ran it in 3:55.54, setting a new Empire Games record. The winner?

    [MORE]
    Kipchoge Keino of Kenya

    • Replies: @PiltdownMan
    , @SafeNow
  24. Stogumber says:

    In Germany, around 1900, it was popular to distinguish between German “Turnen” (mostly athletics), Scandinavian “gymnastics” and British “sport”. “Sport” was dubious because of its high degree of competitiveness. German guilds had done a lot in order to diminish competition; and, after these rules had been abolished in the early 19th century, competition was still a problem (cf. the German expression “Konkurrenz” which oscillates betwen competition and rivalry and normally has a negative connotation).
    On the other hand, the British schools saw competitive sports as a way to civilise rivalry and aggression.
    In the end the underclasses took the decision. Football became extremely popular in Germany,too, just because it allowed young underclass males to compete about their physical fitness. That’s why establishing general rules didn’t encounter much resistance.

  25. B36 says:

    A related question is why did the invention of new games stop? I mean, why are we all playing and watching sports that are over a hundred years old? Here I’m talking about athletic games not esports or turning somersaults on motorcycles. You would think as populations, wealth, and education vastly increase new sports would be invented and become popular. But instead it is the same old same old.

  26. Or did the English-speaking countries have some other cultural advantage, such as a greater interest in sport, less of a reliance on central government for direction, more initiative, or more sense of fair play?

    The British (commercial) Empire. Many of the oldest and most famous football clubs in the world were founded by (and exclusively for, at least initially) British ex-pats. Football is also a sport that requires very little in the way of equipment, which is why most of “Anglosphere” sports which aren’t so simple (basketball, baseball, cricket) have only lately or never become international in scope.

  27. @B36

    There has been some innovation in individual sports: the X games, which have a lot to do with applying Hawaiian surf board riding to other domains.

    But not a lot of new team sports.

    • Replies: @prosa123
  28. @Deogolwulf

    During my time in a Christian Identity community his book “You Gentiles” was standard reading.

    I joined CI (or rather a particular organization thereof) because I had a good old infatuation with the daughter of a movement leader. I thought a lot of the teaching was contrived and silly but those were the most determined, straightforward, honest to a fault people I ever have been around, along with a few Jehovahs Witnesses.

    Mormons on the other hand, were often decent individuals but some you definitely had to watch out for. They’d screw over a gentile if given the opportunity because the only restraint they had was the Church, and if they screwed over another Mormon they would be in trouble. The JWs and CI people I dealt with regarded themselves as representing their community and if anything were more scrupulous with outsiders.

    However, Israelis certainly like sports too, though they may be more rational in their extent to which they let it dominate them than we are. American Jews are not very prominent as athletes any more but they are huge fans of baseball in particular.

    • Replies: @Ganderson
    , @Jack D
  29. RickinJax says:

    In New York, in the 1950’s stickball rules varied greatly between and even within boroughs.I expect they still do.
    Kids from Brooklyn found it almost impossible to play Manhattan rules when visiting there. But people from Manhattan were Giants fans and going to hell anyway.

  30. Brutusale says:
    @Deogolwulf

    (((They))) can’t play a lick, but they’re the most egregious jock-sniffers in America.

    • Replies: @Deogolwulf
  31. Deogolwulf says: • Website
    @Brutusale

    I suppose that could come down to the desire to fit in (and thereby clumsily exaggerating a superficial feature of the host-culture) or a desire to amplify the weakness, or both.

  32. @B36

    Pickelball is growing quickly among seniors. I never heard of it until a few years ago. Now the leagues organized in the 55+ communities rival the Bocce leagues. A wikipedia search says it was improvised in the 60s when someone used a wiffleball because they couldn’t find a shuttlecock.

    Some sports are immensely popular among children but don’t make it beyond recess. Kickball and wallball come to mind. I am tempted to start a competitive kickball league for kids. It is baseball without the need to be patient or very coordinated. I wonder why it doesn’t catch on.

    I invented a game with my kids of catching falling leaves. It requires coordination, burst, and stamina, has a short season, and is free. Every leave is a mini-drama like a 3-2 pitch.

  33. Gordo says:
    @anon

    I read somewhere that the 4 minute mile was first broken in the 1780s by professional runners.

    Maybe, but was the mile standard or local? And how accurate was the timepiece?

    • Replies: @anon
  34. “Anglosphere sports dominate the world today.”

    But negro culture now dominates too many of those sports.

  35. Anonymous[756] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anon

    I could watch Mio and Chie play Pang Pong for 12 hours and it’d never get boring.

  36. gbloco says:

    Team sports are more Celtic than Anglo in origin and in general those of Celtic persuasion are better at them. It was an important part of Celtic tribal bonding and was an effective way for men to show their value to womenfolk, instead say jousting and fencing.

  37. Western cultures frown with playing with dead animals and even human heads, so that rules out some Central Asian sports:

    • Replies: @Alfa158
  38. countenance says: • Website

    I think the other side of the coin is that it’s taken too much of an article of a faith that sports are good. I blame whoever came up with that stupid quote that Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.

  39. Anonymous[330] • Disclaimer says:
    @Father O'Hara

    Just as his famous quote about being born in Ireland not making one Irish was falsely attributed.

    Who actually said it?

    • Replies: @Autochthon
  40. Anonymous[330] • Disclaimer says:
    @william munny

    I invented a game with my kids of catching falling leaves. It requires coordination, burst, and stamina, has a short season, and is free. Every leave is a mini-drama like a 3-2 pitch.

    Could you share the rules?

  41. prosa123 says:
    @Dave Pinsen

    Iceland and the Basque country both have popular local sports that involve picking up very heavy stones (sometimes 400+ pounds) and heaving them as far as possible.

  42. prosa123 says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Racquetball developed shortly after World War II, became immensely popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but then went into a precipitous decline and today is just barely hanging on. It requires a fairly large, purpose-built indoor court that is unsuitable for anything else, which along with a somewhat snobbish, clique-y reputation contributed to its decline.
    Racquetball had one shining virtue, which was that two people of considerably different skill levels could still play an enjoyable game. I’ve heard that back in the day it was even a popular date-night activity. Contrast that with tennis, which is meaningless unless the players are of roughly similar activity.

  43. prosa123 says:
    @YetAnotherAnon

    It’s amazing to see how much they love their rugby in the south of France – the village side is usually much more important than the soccer side. There’s even a chapel to Our Lady Of Rugby, where French internationals hang their shirts.

    France is playing Wales in the quarterfinals of the Rugby World Cup this weekend. The other quarterfinal matches are England vs. Australia, Ireland vs. New Zealand, and South Africa vs. Japan.

    By the way, France’s team has more blacks than South Africa’s. It was the blackest team in this year’s tournament, if you don’t count the Melanesians from Fiji.

    • Replies: @Ganderson
    , @LondonBob
  44. Ganderson says:
    @donvonburg

    …let Keith Moreland come out and drop a routine fly…

  45. @william munny

    Some sports are immensely popular among children but don’t make it beyond recess. Kickball and wallball come to mind. I am tempted to start a competitive kickball league for kids. It is baseball without the need to be patient or very coordinated. I wonder why it doesn’t catch on.

    Uh, there are enormous, organized adult kickball leagues all over the country. There are plenty of serious, coordinated players.

  46. Off topic…but should be the main topic

    Steve

    What did Sam Donaldson say 16 hours ago?

    What did Donald Trump say on Friday?…Something about how happy he would be if the Han People LEGALLY FROM CHINA colonized America’s Engineering and Computer Science Departments….

  47. Ganderson says:
    @william munny

    We used to play step ball- the “batter” would throw the ball against the front steps, the fielder would catch the ball on the fly for an out, or field it, throw it back to the steps, and then catch it for an out. If the ball got by the fielder it was a hit, and if it landed on the fly at certain lengths it was an extra base hit. Across the street on the fly was a homer unless it was caught on the fly, in which case it was an out. Dunno if it was peculiar to St. Paul, or even my part of the city, which was pretty baseball crazed- three HOFers, all of whom played in the 80s and 90’s, (Winfield, Molitor and Morris) came from my end of town, as did marginal HOFer Joe Mauer and long time MLB ump Tim Tschida.
    My dad hated step ball, as it resulted in many broken front door windows!

  48. Ganderson says:
    @prosa123

    Isn’t rugby still largely an Afrikaner sport? The one thing English the Boers took to!

  49. dearieme says:
    @PiltdownMan

    The Duke of Wellington’s comment about the Battle of Waterloo being won on the playing fields of Eton was made c. 1825

    Are you sure? I’ve seen many unambiguous comments to the effect that he never said it at all.

    • Replies: @PiltdownMan
  50. I’ve been watching the Rugby World Cup, like Aussie rules football and am a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan. I seriously think sometimes that the greatest contribution I might make to humanity would be to combine, football , Aussie rule football, rugby union and rugby league. The ideal sport is somewhere in there…

  51. jim jones says:
    @Anon

    Pang pong looks like the sort of sport where nobody ever breaks a sweat

    • Replies: @Anon
  52. @prosa123

    Racquetball developed shortly after World War II, became immensely popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but then went into a precipitous decline and today is just barely hanging on. It requires a fairly large, purpose-built indoor court that is unsuitable for anything else, which along with a somewhat snobbish, clique-y reputation contributed to its decline.

    I remember raquetball being pretty big when I was in grad school and a young employee in the financial industry. What I didn’t understand was why it took off, when squash already existed (including similar purpose built courts of somewhat different dimensions) all over the Northeast in similar social circles. Perhaps the squash courts were all in colleges, and few existed outside of campuses? But if so, why racquetball, and not more squash?

  53. @william munny

    The pickleball competition in the 2019 Maryland Senior Olympics filled up almost immediately.

    Adult coed kickball leagues are popular in the DC area amongst all the young, single transplants new to the city.

  54. Those of us who like a ball game with lots of kicking have soccer, and soccer’s rules are accepted in many countries throughout the world, plus it has a large fan base. And so we can have a giant world cup of national teams competing against one another. The number of people who don’t like soccer, but want a lot of kicking are few and far between, and they can be ignored. The kicking game has just one dialect.

    By contrast, those who like a ball game with guys smashing into each other don’t have a single sport. They are divided both by regions – American football, Canadian football, and maybe Australian rules football – and by having not one but two different international versions – namely, rugby union and rugby league. In other words, they have a lot of dialects. The result is that there isn’t a giant world cup, though the two international versions each have one. Plus, there are a lot of countries that ignore such sports altogether. What are the chances that all these people will get together and hammer out some rules they can all accept? Pretty much zero.

    And those who like a ball game in which players use a stick to hit balls thrown at them are divided into those who like baseball and those who like cricket. Thus, there are two dialects. Cricket has a world cup, while baseball used to and maybe still does, but baseball fans here in American pay no attention to it. Plus, there are plenty of countries that ignore both sports. What are the chances that all these people will get together and hammer out some rules they can all accept? Again, pretty much zero.

    What all that means is that soccer will continue to dominate world sports, and its world cup will overshadow all the others.

    • Replies: @sb
  55. Matra says:

    By the way, France’s team has more blacks than South Africa’s. It was the blackest team in this year’s tournament, if you don’t count the Melanesians from Fiji

    First football, then tennis, now rugby. At some point the indigenous French will be pushed out of boules.

  56. @ScarletNumber

    The big rivalry between Kipchoge “Kip” Keino and Jim Ryun was very big in the years before the 1968 Mexico City Olympics and must have been the first sports rivalry I followed in the papers, as a kid. Jim Ryun was the last white middle distance runner of note, if I’m not mistaken. I remember reading about Ryun’s breaking the mile record, a mark that stood for eight years. That was about the last time the mile was big, internationally, I think.

  57. Off topic

    Steve

    The attacks on the celebration of Columbus Day today on American Universities and Colleges today is about one thing and one thing only:Full speed ahead with making the state of Michigan…into majority Muslim Michigan….And full speed ahead with the Han People colonization of Montanna and Idaho……The attack’s on Columbus Day is all about The Han People…The Muslims…and the Hindus enjoying the full benefits of the European Conquest of North America….which includes taking over the joint for their racial-ethnic tribes….it has 0 to do with giving America back to the “Native” Americans……

  58. Rich says:

    When I was a kid, my cousins who lived out on Long Island in the 70s played a game called “Cave Man Football” which was very similar to a game called “Kill the Man With the Ball” we played in Queens. I think that in “Cave Man Football” there was an actual goal line or something. But boys sure took a beating in these contests, no girls allowed, and it was a great chance to prove your toughness. I’m sure there’s not a kid alive today playing anything similar. Maybe these MMA Jiu-Jitsu guys? But that’s about it, and they’re few and far between.

    • Replies: @William Badwhite
  59. @prosa123

    In the Washington DC of the 1980’s, racquetball clubs were kinda like the young man’s country club. Membership fees were much more affordable, and a game was far quicker than a round of golf. You could take a client for an hour of play, discuss business at the juice bar while cooling down, shower, and be back at the office before your desk was completely covered with those pink phone message notes.

    • Replies: @Prosa123
  60. @PiltdownMan

    I’m not familiar with squash, but I think a lot of people stopped playing racquetball because they kept getting hurt. Smashing into walls, smashing into each other. One guy I knew had his jaw broken by a racquet to the face.

    Of course the guys I knew who were into racquetball were all Type A personalities. Commercial real estate, advertising and finance. My understanding is that good hustle can overcome skill in the game. At least that’s what they thought.

    • Replies: @Alfa158
  61. @PiltdownMan

    The fact of Empire explains their spread around the British Commonwealth, but I wonder what caused European, especially French, acceptance?

    They had “french cricket”. This is a game played by children, possibly at the beach, in which the batter holds a cricket bat in front of their legs, which are the wicket. The idea of the game is to throw the ball at the batter and dismiss them by either hitting their legs if they miss the ball, or catching a strike before it hits the ground (as in cricket or baseball).

    Why it is called French cricket, I do not know. I think it is just because the word French is used in English to describe anything a bit silly, like french kissing, a french letter, French disease (an archaic name for syphilis.)

    • Replies: @Lurker
  62. @PiltdownMan

    Jim Ryun was the last white middle distance runner of note, if I’m not mistaken.

    Sebastian Coe set a world record for the 800 meters that stood for many years, although he was regarded as better at the 1500 meters or mile.

    • Agree: jim jones
  63. @YetAnotherAnon

    I grew up in NYC in the fifties and sixties and played american quoits when visiting friends in the suburbs. I don’t think kids are playing the games I grew up with such as ringalevio, red rover, punchball and stickball. I could be wrong but that’s my impression.

  64. Eton Wall Game Video With George Orwell In It.

    Orwell wasn’t on film much because there isn’t a lot of video of him.

    Orwell died in 1950 so I guess he didn’t like to have his image captured so he avoided the camera.

    English people want to know the rules exactly so they can get around them or bend them or devise strategies to use the rules to their advantage. Fair Play Is The English Way.

    Fair Play by Van Morrison:

    Fair play to you

    Killarney’s lakes are so blue

    And the architecture I’m taking in with my mind

    So fine

    Wall Game at Eton:

  65. Jack D says:
    @anon

    I read somewhere that the 4 minute mile was first broken in the 1780s by professional runners.

    Very dubious. What was a “professional runner” in the 1780s? Who paid them? Modern track and field didn’t really get going until much later in the 19th century.

    It’s true though that English sport was prejudiced in favor of “amateurs” (meaning wealthy gentlemen who could afford to do sport as a hobby) and the rules forbade professionals. Bannister was a doctor. This makes some sense in that it is really a waste of resources for a society to have people who devote their lives to running around in a circle (or hitting a ball with a stick, etc.) – a totally unproductive activity. Sports were supposed to be a leisure time activity, not a profession. Even up to the early 1960s it was common for even NFL players to have other jobs in the off season.

    The rules for a recognized world record are very strict. You need a precisely measured mile, a level course without much wind, precise timing, etc. It’s doubtful that any of these existed in the 1780s.

    • Replies: @anon
  66. Jack D says:
    @donvonburg

    “You Gentiles” was published in 1924, so it is not exactly current. Even in pre-WWII Poland, Jews were into soccer and there were all sorts of Jewish football (soccer) clubs. A lot of the top fencers in Hungary (where fencing was a big thing) were Jewish. Jews were well represented in German track & field before Hitler. Etc. As soon as Jews assimilated, they adopted Western sports along with Western everything else. So Samuel’s idea that sport is “goyish” and unserious is seriously out of date.

    • Replies: @donvonburg
  67. Semi-OT:

    Sainted vibrant woman playing life on easy mode shares her wisdom with us after visiting every country on Earth:

    https://www.outsideonline.com/2403731/jessica-nabongo-first-black-woman-visit-every-country

    “A lot of people ask me which countries are safe for black people to travel,” Nabongo recently wrote on an Instagram post from the Seychelles. “This question typically comes from black Americans. The U.S. has perfected racism in a way that I’ve not seen in other countries, so I would urge you to travel WHEREVER you want to, no matter who you are and what you look like. I did it! And just because you hear one or two negative stories from someone doesn’t mean you should write a country off of your bucket list. We all will have different experiences and you shouldn’t allow your race to hinder you.”

    Huh. Perhaps she should stay in one of those ‘other countries’ since the United States are the apotheosis of global racism.

    Throughout her travels, Nabongo said that she found Muslim countries the easiest to be a woman tourist. “I felt very comfortable as a woman in Pakistan as compared to India,” Nabongo said.

    Pure taqiyya. Though, judging from the photos, no one is going to fall all over themselves to get Jess’ number.

    “Americans don’t realize how conservative Americans are compared to the rest of the world,” she added. “Everybody wants to talk about how Muslim women are oppressed because they have to cover their heads, and I’m like, Look at the gender pay gap in America.”

    More taqiyya. Again, I would encourage the author stay in one of these gloriously equal Muslim paradises. Forever.

    The next novelty? Work!

    Except that-

    Nabongo wants to create an online store for select, locally produced goods from around the globe.

    So, we’re going to make $$$ wasting time, energy, and effort shipping crappy artesinal trinkets around the world. Got it.

    Also-

    Nabongo is also galvanized to tackle the world’s plastic problem, after seeing its effects during her travels. Pointing out that the travel industry is one of the worst culprits, she wants to consult with hotels and airlines to help create solutions to the environmental nightmare.

    So, we’re also going to make $$$ scolding everyone about using brain-stabbing metal straws. Yay.

    • Replies: @megabar
  68. Jack D says:
    @B36

    Every time they hold an Olympics (winter or summer) they seem to add new sports (but these are rarely team sports). 2020 will feature SKATEBOARD, SPORTS CLIMBING AND SURFING.

    To my mind, sports that can be objectively scored by points, distance or time are different than those that require judges to evaluate the player’s skill.

    I guess adding a team sport is more difficult – you need to build a whole infrastructure. New playing fields and equipment. Groups of players trained in that sport – whole leagues of them so that they can compete with each other. Etc. And the market is already saturated with the existing ones so it’s hard for anything new to gain a foothold.

    Ultimate Frisbee and Frisbee Golf have reached semi-professional status.

  69. Anon[335] • Disclaimer says:

    Whenever I see a woman with a black eye, it’s always the left side when you’re facing her. That means the guy who slugged her was a lefty. Left-handed men tend to be screw-ups when it comes to living life. I’m not surprised their genes are in decline.

  70. Just a reminder:

    Donald Trump said on Friday:”America needs to import all of its Engineers, Computer Prigrammers, Physcists…and Mathemsticians from China….LEGALLY…”

    Steve

    Is this Steven Miller’s point based immigration system?

  71. Wide World of Sports brought out a lot of cool sports ya never heard of. Agony of da feet and all that. I liked hog-bowling. Or was it log-rolling? It was a very different time.

  72. J.Ross says:

    ABC News tries to pass off footage of a shooting range as a Turkish genocide.
    https://streamable.com/p9nod
    In fact, this isn’t even in Syria, and is from 2010:

    From now on I demand to be addressed as The Internationally Esteemed Detroit Observatory of Human Rights.

  73. The Z Blog says: • Website

    I think it is Ireland, where they have a local sport of ball throwing. Basically, the game is to see who needs the fewest tosses to throw a ball from one town to the next. The thing is, the ball is hard, so it bounces off hard roads. That’s part of the trick, figuring out how to use local geography to bounce the ball the furthest. Like most simple games, there is more to it.

    As far as cultural inclinations toward sport, I wonder if language plays a role. Some languages are better for certain things. I’ve long argued that English is best for technology, due to the precision. Of course, there is no such thing as language now, with everyone being the same, but maybe a long time ago language made organized sport more possible in English speaking lands.

  74. inertial says:
    @Dave Pinsen

    As Steve pointed out, local sports existed everywhere, but they were a plebeian activity and so not prestigious. European aristocracy favorite pastimes were hunting, dueling, drinking, and whoring. Running around with a ball was for peasants.

    England was the first society where playing what we recognize as team sports had become an acceptable activity for the upper class. This was enthusiastically copied by the middle class, and so it went.

  75. @Kronos

    Dragline: “Why you got to go and say fifty eggs for? Why not thirty-five or thirty-nine?”
    Luke: “I thought it was a nice round number.”

  76. @Anonymous

    Is that the one where Fred introduced every show with ‘Howdo?’ and signed off with ‘I sithee’?

  77. My guess is that before railroads came along in the 19th Century, there were hundreds of somewhat different sports played across Europe by local rules

    It was colder, too. When British soldiers developed ice hockey in Upper Canada, they would have been familiar with fen skating and bandy back home.

    Bandy is moribund in the UK now. “Great Britain” made the World Championships for the first time– as opposed to the appearances for Mongolia and six (!) for Somalia. (Obviously their diaspora.)

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bandy_World_Championship#Participation_details

    If Rugby was going to play Charterhouse and Eton

    Or Harvard, McGill:

    https://www.mcgill.ca/channels/news/date-history-first-football-game-was-may-14-1874-106694

    https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/channels/news/mcgill-host-harvard-covo-cup-classic-sept-7-mark-anniversary-historic-1874-rugby-football-game-300166

    In the late 19th Century, there were often Anglophiles and Anglophobes in countries like France (e.g., Jules Verne and Baron de Coubertin were French Anglophiles) and Argentina.

    Rugby is particularly popular with Anglophobes– the Celts, the French, the Boers, the Maoris, the Argentines. You think it might be war by other means?

    • Replies: @syonredux
  78. @Jack D

    Every time they hold an Olympics (winter or summer) they seem to add new sports (but these are rarely team sports). 2020 will feature SKATEBOARD, SPORTS CLIMBING AND SURFING.

    But they have little room for baseball, or cricket,or rugby, which are played professionally in dozens of countries.

    Baseball will be at Tokyo next year, but that may be a one-off. Doubt they’ll be in Paris.

  79. J.Ross says:

    Republican congressmen removed and prevented from hearing testimony by Adam Sanpaku. If this is legal then legality is broken.

  80. LondonBob says:
    @prosa123

    Surprised how long it has taken blacks to appear in rugby, ideal physique for it, well not quite as ideal as the Melanesians.

  81. Prosa123 says:
    @Paul Mendez

    Today the Lifetime Athletic gym chain is the young(ish) person’s country club. It’s way more expensive than most other gyms, something like $175 per month, though of course that’s vastly cheaper than an actual country club. More to the point it isn’t just a gym but has a vast array of social activities. Lifetime Athletic members can use a facility as the center of their social lives, just like with country clubs.

  82. Sparkon says:
    @Jack D

    To my mind, sports that can be objectively scored by points, distance or time are different than those that require judges to evaluate the player’s skill.

    Amen. It’s easy or at least possible to fix judged events. And beyond that, look at the number of Olympic medals awarded in gymnastics as compared to a team sport like basketball, which gets one.

    You might add a free-throw shooting contest, 3-pt. shooting contest, half-court heave contest, left and right hand dribbling races, in addition to the game itself, to bring b-ball up to six medals, comparable with men’s gymnastics.

  83. syonredux says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    The “pre-history” of American Football is interesting:

    Early games appear to have had much in common with the traditional “mob football” played in Great Britain. The games remained largely unorganized until the 19th century, when intramural games of football began to be played on college campuses. Each school played its own variety of football. Princeton University students played a game called “ballown” as early as 1820. A Harvard tradition known as “Bloody Monday” began in 1827, which consisted of a mass ballgame between the freshman and sophomore classes. In 1860, both the town police and the college authorities agreed the Bloody Monday had to go. The Harvard students responded by going into mourning for a mock figure called “Football Fightum”, for whom they conducted funeral rites. The authorities held firm and it was a dozen years before football was once again played at Harvard.

    Dartmouth played its own version called “Old division football”, the rules of which were first published in 1871, though the game dates to at least the 1830s. All of these games, and others, shared certain commonalities. They remained largely “mob” style games, with huge numbers of players attempting to advance the ball into a goal area, often by any means necessary. Rules were simple, violence and injury were common.[4][5] The violence of these mob-style games led to widespread protests and a decision to abandon them. Yale, under pressure from the city of New Haven, banned the play of all forms of football in 1860.[4]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_football#American_college_football

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    , @Jack D
  84. OT, but the economics “Nobel” was just awarded to a husband wife team.

    But the husband was the thesis advisor for the wife.

    Isn’t that just a bit awkward in the current year?

  85. I think that sport is dueling by other means.

    Or, if you like, the reduction of violent combat into a show of force.

    Probably one of the most astonishing inventions ever.

  86. Lot says:

    Drum/Gelman: Angus’s white death finding is actually limited in white southern women.

    https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2019/10/a-reminder-deaths-of-despair-are-mainly-hitting-white-women-in-the-south/

    Probably also parts of other regions but offset by other areas within the region.

    Strange new world we are living in with Gen Z and younger Millennials: much lower sex, crime, alcohol and drug use, and drastically higher rate of non-heterosexuality (affecting all races and both sexes).

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @International Jew
  87. @Jonathan Mason

    I believe Sebastian Coe also held the world record in both the mile and 1500 in the early 1980s. Steve Ovett also was the mile record holder briefly. In the late seventies, New Zealand’s John Walker held the world record in the mile. There were lots of great white middle distance guys in the 70s-80s, including American Steve Scott who broke Jim Ryun’s US mile record.

    • Replies: @Cowboy shaw
    , @Ron Mexico
  88. @syonredux

    Soccer, i.e. English association football, I called calcio in Italy, after a brutal game from the streets of Florence.

    What this country needs is a National Florentine Football League!

  89. syonredux says:

    For example, at the beginning of the American Civil War, Boston and New York City had quite different forms of baseball. But the War nationalized baseball. Union soldiers played a lot of baseball in Army camps during the war, and the players from other states came to prefer the New York rules over the Boston rules. (The South didn’t experience the same process, so the South wasn’t as baseball-oriented until the 20th Century. Ty Cobb, the Georgia Peach, who played from 1905-1928 might have been the first really famous baseball player from a Deep South state.)

    Interesting to observe the intra-Anglo differences. All of the big team sports that developed in Anglo-America (baseball, American football, basketball) originated in the North. As I recall, in Albion’s Seed, David Hackett Fischer noted how the East Anglian derived Puritans were quite enthusiastic about team sports.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  90. Jack D says:
    @syonredux

    The later history is also interesting. Rather than the teams getting together for a sit down and agreeing on a set of rules all at once, it was a slow evolution. The famous 1869 game that was considered the birth of intercollegiate football was played with a round ball and was closer to soccer. Each school had its own rules and sometimes they would agree with each other on a set of compromise rules for that game or else they’d play a pair of games, alternating which team’s rules would be used. The rules then shifted and came closer to the rugby rules (of the time) and then further American innovations were added so it took until the early 1880s before they were playing a game that we would recognize as American football.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  91. @B36

    A related question is why did the invention of new games stop?

    I think the answer suggests itself if you think about chess. Like baseball, it’s been around a long time. It’s seen zillions of other board games come and go. In fact it’s bigger than baseball; it’s as dominant, among board games, as baseball, football and basketball together are dominant among ball sports.

  92. J.Ross says:
    @Anonymous

    Wasn’t the origin of darts archers treating their arrows like little javelins?

  93. Jack D says:
    @Christopher Chantrill

    Well fencing is obviously a modified (less lethal) offshoot of dueling or dueling practice but football is derived from mob sports – these are the opposite of one on one dueling and involved a large crowd and a melee.

  94. Mr. Grey says:

    Come on, we all know white people don’t have no culture.

  95. utu says:

    Sports (rugby and soccer in particular) were promoted by factory owners as well as trade unions in Europe and soccer clubs often were associated with political parties and nationalistic political orientations like Sokol (for Czechs and Poles in Austro-Hungary) and Maccabi for Jews in Eastern Europe in late 19 century.

    The cycling craze that took over Europe and France in particular in late 19 century is equally interesting. Later bicycles became most popular vehicles for transportation which made possible building new factories in remote areas where workers could commute to work from nearby villages.

  96. @PiltdownMan

    Racketball is a better workout because rallies are longer thanks to the bouncier ball. (And, of course, I’m speaking of casual players here.)

    In the 70s, I played both, depending what was locally available/popular. In my midwestern hometown it was all racketball. Then, at Fancy Northeastern College, it was all squash. I watched some top-level squash play and those guys seemed to be getting even less exercise than me actually.

    Back to racketball, it’s a better social game. A good player can play a bad player and still have a little fun and get a bit of exercise. Unlike tennis, say.

  97. @Rich

    mid-Atlantic in the 70’s and 80’s that was called “Smear the Queer”; I’ve seen kids today playing it.

  98. Jack D says:
    @Lot

    This shows how easily statistical information can be misinterpreted – it appears as if death rates are increasing in the US in the 45-54 group perhaps due to some societal factor (“despair”) but then you realize that the average age of this group is itself increasing and age correlates with mortality – 54 year olds die at a higher rate than 45 year olds so if you have more of the former in this group as the Boomer bulge works its way down the snake, the group average mortality is going to go up even if nothing else changes.

    Even the finding that the real increase in age adjusted mortality is confined to Southern white women may not be the real story – there may be some other statistical artifact that we are not picking up on.

    I don’t see why “despair” should be prevalent among Southern white women in particular. Maybe there are other factors such as increased obesity, higher rates of smoking, lack of access to medical care, etc.

    • Replies: @Johann Ricke
    , @Lot
  99. @Jack D

    Maybe there are other factors such as increased obesity

    This. People have been getting fat at younger and younger ages, even prior to middle age spread. Then middle age hits and the weight gain becomes uncontrollable. This has to have consequences.

  100. Lot says:
    @william munny

    Kickball could be fun for out of shape adults, but a baseball diamond seems too small for it. They are so easy to kick and in any direction, you have to make offense harder to avoid long games and high scores.

    • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard
  101. One former Olympic sport survives in a village of 800 on the Genesee:

    Olympic Roque

  102. @Lot

    Wow, I’m surprised Angus Deaton made such a newbie error. He had a tremendous reputation in demography long before his “white death” work. And I’m surprised it’s taken so long for anyone to discover his error.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  103. Lot says:
    @Jack D

    I think the white despair is real in other groups, but is just made up for by the background secular decrease in mortality.

    And the decrease in white lifespan in many parts of middle america is real too.

    Steve’s reaction, we are the new increasingly dispossessed American Indians, seems correct to me.

    It just isn’t as bad as initially reported.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  104. Today’s biggest sports are the survivors of a process that began when railways could allow athletes to conveniently go to road games. If Rugby was going to play Charterhouse and Eton, they needed to agree on the rules for the game: could you, for example, pick up the ball and run with it?

    IIRC, the division of football into a hand game (North) and foot game (South) is pretty interesting.

    More interesting still is that in Anglophone nations rugby is associated with upper class public (private) schools whereas soccer is the field (or street) game of the lower classes. One would think that the much more physically brutal game would be the realm of street thugs, and the “beautiful game” that of the posh upper crust – but the opposite obtains.

    As the saying goes, “Football is a gentlemen’s game played by thugs, and Rugby is a thug’s game played by gentlemen.”

  105. @Christopher Chantrill

    I think that sport is dueling by other means.

    Or, if you like, the reduction of violent combat into a show of force.

    Probably one of the most astonishing inventions ever.

    Perhaps the genius of sport is that it can be valuable both intra-tribe to establish hierarchies and inter-tribe as a proxy for more dangerous means to settle conflicts.

  106. Jack D says:
    @Lot

    It’s possible, because the flat (or only slightly declining) rates in other US regions contrasts with other Western countries where mortality continue to decline in absolute terms (presumably due to improvement in medical care and public health, declining rates of smoking and air pollution, etc.)

  107. Jack D says:
    @International Jew

    Some stories are “too good to check”.

  108. Knur & Spell was an ancient game long played in northern England that’s like a cross between a golf long drive contest and T-Ball. In Yorkshire a machine tosses the ball in the air for the player to smack. In Lancashire, the ball was merely suspended from a loop of string. In both cases, the player hits it as far as he can, and the longest bash wins. It was big in the 1930s and somewhat revived in the 1970s, but has now faded almost out of existence.

    I grew up in Yorkshire and lived there throughout the seventies and have never heard of this game at all. We used to have various sports at country fairs such as fell racing and pillow fights on a greasy pole, but never Knur and Spell.

    http://burnsallsports.co.uk/

    However, there is a demonstration of Knur and Spell at the link below, and one can see why it died out.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00dnx5z

    • Replies: @Jonathan Mason
  109. Alfa158 says:
    @The Alarmist

    That’s not so bad, the original Mongolian polo was played with a live human prisoner instead of a dead animal. It added an extra element to the play because, at least in early part of each game, instead of a passive game ball you had one that was actively trying to escape from the game. Of course, in the later stages of the game after the “ball” had been knocked down and trampled enough it would have reverted to being just another passive game ball.

  110. @Jonathan Mason

    The video posted by Steve may given the clue to the popularity of all spectator sport–the opportunity for for betting and drinking in a festive communal atmosphere.

    TV did not exist when these sports were invented.

  111. Alfa158 says:
    @Paul Mendez

    Squash is a status signal thing because it is very European, and is less vigorous because of the dead little ball and small racket head. There is more strategy because you can stroke the ball into the wall so it drops like a shotgunned sparrow. I played the game for a while when I was working with some European engineers and a couple of ivy leaguers.
    There is also another level of snobbishness inside the snobbishness of the game in general. Europeans use a squash ball that is even smaller and has less rebound than the American version. (The different balls were easily identified by the color of a dot on the balls). The players who sent away for the European squash balls would sneer at players using the livelier American ball for playing a game with less subtlety.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  112. @prosa123

    I learned paddleball in college, with wooden paddles, then switched to racketball. I played it almost daily for 30+ years, until. My body fell apart. I was always puzzled at its decline in popularity. It is much quicker to learn than tennis, can be played year-ROUND, and a far better workout than tennis. A darn shsme.

  113. As befitting its isolated geography, Ireland has some very specific Irish sports, including Gaelic Football, Hurling, and Rounders. Gaelic Football and Hurling go back in various forms for centuries.

    Gaelic Football and Hurling are particularly popular, with city vs city and provincial matches televised. They are technically “amateur” sports but there is some sponsorship money that goes around.

    Games are televised, sometimes with commentary only in Gaelic.

    If you are on the winning provincial team in, say, the annual Gaelic Football All Ireland Senior competition, you will never have to buy yourself a Guiness at the local pub for years to come!

  114. Anonymous[409] • Disclaimer says:
    @Alfa158

    Speaking of shotguns it is peculiar to South Carolina that 28 gauge shotguns are used for upland hunting by adult males. Bigger guns are considered unsporting. Elsewhere the 28 is only used in skeet and by kids and some women.

    Oddball gauges like 14, 18, 24, 32 are still manufactured in Europe, at least shells are.

    • Replies: @Prosa123
    , @Alfa158
  115. @Wolf Barney

    Walker was a great runner. Had epic tussles with Filbert Bayi.

  116. I’d never come across Ninh Ly before, nor even knew there were Viet-Grits at all. But you could waste a whole day on his nutty sports videos. Here’s one on-topic:

    And one off-… evidently neither of the two worst soccer club rivalries are in Europe, though one is uncomfortably close:

  117. Prosa123 says:
    @Anonymous

    28 gauge shotguns throw thinner patterns than 12’s or 20’s and therefore make it more difficult to hit the birds. Hunting with a 28 is a greater test of a shooter’s skills.

  118. @prosa123

    Wall Street (1987) raquetball scene:

  119. @Lot

    Kickball could be fun for out of shape adults…

    Not really. There are way too many in-shape former jocks with friends who take their D-league games far, far too seriously.

  120. @ScarletNumber

    Why do the college men still play 20 min halves? HS, pro and international all use quarters.

    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
  121. @Wolf Barney

    Steve Cram (GBR) was the WR holder in the 1500 and mile in mid 80s.

  122. Long time ago a friend told me about the annual leap frog contest held in Las Cruces, NMex. One of the rules was that players had to complete their jumps. Not sure the contests are still being held.

  123. @Jonathan Mason

    Of course! How could I forget? And all the other white guys mentioned in the replies to you, in the great middle-distance running rivalries of the ‘80s.

  124. anon[360] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jack D

    Ultimate (frisbee) is really quite something to watch when played at a high level. One of the most elegant, beautiful games. I wish I could play it myself. It combines a lot of the best elements of (American) football, basketball ,and soccer. But it’s hard to break the oligopoly of football, baseball, basketball and even hockey in the U.S., and the monopoly of the other football most elsewhere.

  125. @Jack D

    Right, the 1971 Encyclopedia Britannica account of the origin of American football rules consists of a long string of conventions in the post-Civil War era convened at railroad hotels after each season where footballers would has out new rule changes for next season.

  126. @syonredux

    Are there any major sports indigenous to the US South? Stock car racing?

    • Replies: @Ron Mexico
    , @Logan
    , @JMcG
  127. Feeeney says:

    Klootschieten in the Frisian Empire, both sides of the Dutch German border.
    Frisian Klootschieten

    and Corkish (and Ulsterish) road bowling:

  128. Feeeney says:

    Corkish (and Ulsterish) road bowling:

  129. Alfa158 says:
    @Anonymous

    I would be in favor of having fewer shot end up in the birds. When I was a little kid I found it annoying to eat pheasant or quail my Dad had shot with his 12 ga because I had to trace the pellet tracks and dig out the shot while I was eating it. It felt like I was doing surgery on my dinner. I once asked my Dad how come he didn’t use a rifle instead.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  130. SafeNow says:
    @ScarletNumber

    Speaking of Bannister / Landy races, a famous moment. For those who might not know it: On the final turn, Landy was leading. He looked over his left shoulder to see where Bannister was. At that precise moment, Bannister passed him on the right. When Landy turned his head and looked straight ahead, there was Bannister, now leading the race. That broke Landy’s spirit and Bannister pulled away to win. A life-size bronze statue commemorates that moment. Landy famously quipped: “Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back. I am the only one who was turned into bronze for looking back.” Two very fine fellows. Role models. Rest in peace, Dr. Roger Bannister.

    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
    , @sb
  131. @NJ Transit Commuter

    Rugby is a really good game, and Aussie Rules is crazy and entertaining, but I agree there’s still a Platonic form out there somewhere. Also, don’t leave rugby 7s out of your equation.

    Good luck with your quest.

  132. megabar says:
    @The Wild Geese Howard

    > online store for select, locally produced goods from around the globe

    After all, what could be more sensible than to make locally-produced goods from all regions of the world available globally?

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  133. @PiltdownMan

    Raquetball is relatively easy to play as a beginner; even a couple of novices can generate rallies in which they each get to hit the very bouncy ball several times before the point ends. Squash is much much harder when you’re starting out. Its use of a relatively ‘dead’ ball means there lots of points in which the ball is hit only once or twice before going out of play, which is frustrating and boring. You feel like your time on the court is mostly spent picking up the ball, because that’s exactly what’s happening.

    For good players, squash is a nice game, but it’s not a great option for casual/unathletic types.

    • Replies: @Jake Barnes
  134. megabar says:
    @prosa123

    > Racquetball had one shining virtue, which was that two people of considerably different skill levels could still play an enjoyable game.

    Perhaps more so than other sports, but this has its limits. I am (was) not a bad athlete, and I’ve dabbled in racquetball. But a friend of mine who claimed that he was “okay” at it absolutely crushed me, and it wasn’t much fun. We only played the one time.

    He could make the points last, but it was obvious that he was taking it easy on me, and I find that to be a thoroughly unpleasant experience.

  135. Logan says:
    @Anonymous

    The best pub sport is ferret legging.

  136. Twinkie says:
    @PiltdownMan

    Scottish backhold still survives.

    Don’t I know it! I had a Scottish Judo instructor once who was a Scottish wrestling (and later freestyle world) champion.

    That kind of “belt” folk wrestling was very common all over Eurasia from Scotland to Korea. Many successful Georgian and Mongolian Judoka grew up doing similar styles. They are mostly channeled to Greco or Judo these days.

  137. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @Alfa158

    Well, steel shot comes out with a powerful magnet, so there is that.

  138. @Ron Mexico

    If you are truly curious you could contact Tad Boyle, the basketball coach at Colorado. He is the chairman of the rules committee. They have experimented with quarters in various pre-season tournaments and the NIT, but apparently they don’t feel they have enough data to make the switch, even though, as you point out, they are the outliers. The only drawback is that in the NBA and NCAAW, there is no “one-and-one”, which I think are inherently interesting.

    What I am curious about is the 3-point line. The NCAAM has decided to extended their line to the FIBA distance of 22’1¾”*, while the NCAAW will stay with 20’9″. The last time the men extended the distance, the women soon followed due to the confusion of having two different lines on the same court.

    *

    [MORE]
    The actual FIBA distance is 6.75 m, which is 22’1.8″. Since we don’t use metric inches we rounded it to the nearest ⅛”. The new NCAAM line will be 1.27 mm short of the FIBA line, but that’s close enough for government work.

    • Replies: @Ron Mexico
  139. @SafeNow

    A life-size bronze statue commemorates that moment.

    • Replies: @PiltdownMan
  140. @william munny

    I am tempted to start a competitive kickball league for kids. It is baseball without the need to be patient or very coordinated.

    In other words, soccer.

  141. @ScarletNumber

    Did they actually run that race barefoot on the cinder tracks of those days? Or is that just artistic license?

    • Replies: @Jack D
  142. Jack D says:
    @PiltdownMan

    The statue is not barefoot if you look closely and neither was Bannister:

    Those shoes could be yours for only $335,000:

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/sep/11/roger-bannisters-sub-four-minute-mile-running-shoes-sell-for-266500

  143. @dearieme

    The best information seems to indicate that he went to an Eton cricket match around 1825 as an Old Etonian and was heard by a newspaperman to mutter “Waterloo was won here”, ambiguously, when Eton came from behind and won the match.

    It could well have been a remark about the earlier disastrous state of the game and the Eton team’s situation, rather than the Battle of Waterloo.

  144. anon[280] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jack D

    The 1780s weren’t the Stone Age, Jack. They had watches then, the air was clean, and the food and water was nutritious.
    Professional Boxing and Professional Cricket date to the early 18th C.
    So did Professional Running.
    The game was about the betting and the prizemoney.
    Then and now men try a lot harder for cash than they do for sashes and cups.

  145. gbloco says:
    @Jonathan Mason

    Actually Coe’s preferred distance was 800m, his world record stood for 16 years and he remains the third fastest of all time. However he never won the 800m gold (winning two 1500m golds instead). He was also half-(dot)Indian.

  146. anon[280] • Disclaimer says:
    @Gordo

    Maybe, but was the mile standard or local? And how accurate was the timepiece?

    Can’t say, but it would have to be close.
    The first Olympic 1500 m. Champion ran the race in 4:33, equates to about a 4:52 Mile.
    That was in 1896.
    So even if the course was 5 yards short and the watch lost 2 seconds every 5 minutes, the professionals were still at least 50 seconds faster over a Mile than the best Amateurs 110 years later.

    • Replies: @sb
  147. @PiltdownMan

    I thought the battle was won by Blucher’s timely arrival.

    “The Prussians’ arrival was decisive in securing the allied victory, and when Wellington and Blücher met late in the evening they saluted each other as victors.” Wikipedia

    I walked a bit on the playing fields of Eton with just this quote in mind. I wanted to experience–first hand–just what and for whom my Great-Great Grandfather had fought in Blucher’s Army at Waterloo and what and for whom my Grandfather and two Uncles had fought, as Americans, in northern France and on Flanders’ fields.

    I came away unenlightened. Whatever the source of Eton’s fields mojo, it’s not in the grass itself.

    • Replies: @Autochthon
  148. @Anonymous

    I don’t know; I just wish we could get people to understand that being born in America does not make one American.

    • Replies: @Logan
  149. @ThreeCranes

    You were looking for elusive Magic Dirt: but the mojo is in the deoxyribonucleic acid, silly goose; it’s just become forbidden to say so….

  150. Brutusale says:
    @prosa123

    Back in my college days I played racquetball for a cardio workout. I once dated a classmate who was a fairly good tennis player, and I invited her to play racquetball, figuring I’d get slaughtered but with the side benefit of a great workout.

    The reality was watching her miss the ball by 6″ every time she swung the racquet! Muscle memory.

  151. sb says:
    @SafeNow

    It may not be well known but Landy was carrying a serious foot injury at the time . He had stepped on broken glass and had stitches in his foot .
    Landy did not make this public and has always said that he was beaten fair and square .

    Landy has always had a reputation in Australia as a much admired gentleman who would never countenance any “sharp practise “.
    There was a memorable occasion in a championship mile race when he thought that he had accidentally knocked over a young runner .Landy stopped apologised and helped him up . That young runner incidentally was later multiple world record holder Ron Clarke who had similar values . Landy then ran on and caught the pack and won the race .

  152. sb says:
    @John Pepple

    In Australia there have always been people who play both cricket and baseball although I think It is the only such country
    Of course baseball is a much smaller sport and only has a (small ) national league because MLB picks up the bill

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  153. sb says:
    @anon

    The 1896 1500 metres was won by Australian Edwin Flack who was really just a goodish runner ie he would sometimes run a place in major races both in Australia and England . He was an accountant working in London who went to Athens for his annual leave for a bit of adventure .
    He also competed in tennis and maybe his first sporting interest was rowing .
    There would have been many better milers around but they weren’t in Athens .
    I note also that there was no country called Australia at that time ( founded 1901 )

  154. @megabar

    Thereby further increasing unnecessary air pollution by shipping the items so far. She’s a progressive genius.

  155. @sb

    You motivated me to find the Australian baseball league website.
    Here were the standings for the eight teams in the 2018 season:

    web.theabl.com.au/standings/index.jsp?lid=595

    Does this mean that they didn’t operate / play in 2019?

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  156. @RadicalCenter

    Yes, they’re still playing pro baseball in Australia and apparently growing, albeit from a small base.

    web.theabl.com.au/news/article.jsp?ymd=20190305&content_id=304808752&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_l595&sid=l595

    • Replies: @anon
  157. @ScarletNumber

    Do you remember the old 3 to make 2 FT in the NBA?

    • Replies: @FPD72
    , @ScarletNumber
  158. @Jack D

    To my mind, sports that can be objectively scored by points, distance or time are different than those that require judges to evaluate the player’s skill.

    Where does basketball fall in this rubric? The referees are required on every play to judge who is entitled to move and who is charging or fouling without objective criteria and widely acknowledge that the style and reputation of players determines who is called for penalties when there is contact.

    Famous player are entitles to an advantage of more space and more chances to push and shove, but mostly that advantage just accrues to whoever seems more smooth and stylish in the way that basketball players value. In fact, the rules of basketball are very much like figure skating.

    But nevertheless it is a game where points are added up in scores as if each session on the piste were a test principally of skill.

    In baseball the strike zone moves up and down with fashion like ladies’ skirts, but seems generally consistent from player to player so that seems on the side of objectivity.

    Soccer, of course, is principally determined by penalty kicks since good teams can’t score against each other the regular way. And those penalties are determined by how convincing the whining of the players that claim to be tripped or hit can be. So all of soccer is really a whining contest judged by referees, one step down in objectivity below figure skating.

  159. FPD72 says:
    @Ron Mexico

    I remember. Missing all three (see Chamberlain, Wilt, although he hit 28/32 the night he scored 100) was called a hat trick.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  160. Rich, white high schools get AP courses and Model UN club. Non-rich, non-white schools get self esteem building and football.

    Public universities were founded to provide free rides to applied science majors. For a long time now, instead, those same universities provide free rides to football players (who, 90% of the time, couldn’t care less about higher education, much less science) while science majors pay some of the highest tuition rates in the schools, e.g. lab courses cost more.

    The monopolist NCAA prohibits college players from officially receiving payment for their athletic services.

    De-legitimize the forward pass. Separate sports and state!

  161. @The Last Real Calvinist

    I took squash lessons in Hong Kong (where the sport was much more accessible than the US); some of the best workouts I’ve ever had, but incredibly frustrating if the skill difference between two players was at all different.

  162. @Ron Mexico

    Before my time, but I know it existed.

  163. @(((Owen)))

    Out of the team sports, I would say basketball is the one that is most subject to the vagaries of officiating. Having said that, the team with the most points still wins. Whereas, in figure skating the judges decide the winner, a la Marie-Reine Le Gougne (the French Judge) in the 2002 Olympics.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  164. @FPD72

    In 1972, the Lakers were playing Kareem’s Milwaukee Bucks. The Lakers were down by 7 with 90 seconds to play. They hit 3 straight baskets and to pull within 1. With 2 seconds left they got the ball down low to Wilt, but he got hammered, so he was given 3 free throws to make 2. Wilt, at this point in time, had the theory that he was such a bad free throw shooter because he was too strong, so he stood 3 feet behind the foul line. He didn’t come close to making one, but Happy Hairston ripped the rebound away from Kareem and fired it to Gail Goodrich who hit the winning shot at the buzzer.

    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
  165. @Jake Barnes

    Yes, I live in HK, and it’s indeed easy here to find time on squash courts.

    I’ve played some, but I don’t really enjoy it. I’m tall and not that quick on my feet, so although I have good reach and decent hand-eye coordination, playing squash makes me feel clumsy. I’m also constantly worried in the back of my mind about mashing my opponent with my racquet.

  166. @Logan

    Being the posterity of those who created it.

    • Agree: William Badwhite
    • Replies: @Logan
  167. anon[179] • Disclaimer says:
    @RadicalCenter

    Baseball was a Winter sport in Australia until around 1980, when it shifted to Summer, directly opposing Cricket.
    Plenty of the top Cricketers had played Baseball in the Winter up until then.
    The shift seems to have helped the Sport, until 1982 Australia’s only Major League player was a bloke who later led the Browns to the worst Win/Loss record for any Manager in MLB history.

    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
  168. @anon

    Australia’s only Major League player was a bloke who later led the Browns to the worst Win/Loss record for any Manager in MLB history

    To be clear, these Browns were the forerunners of the current Cardinals, and no relation to the later Browns.

  169. @Steve Sailer

    March 1, to be precise. While he wasn’t an All-Star, I would say Hairston was the last player of note to come out of NYU in any sport.

    Also, this game was played in Madison, Wisconsin, not Milwaukee.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  170. @ScarletNumber

    Thanks.

    Hairston had 20 rebounds that night. He was a valuable player.

  171. JMcG says:
    @(((Owen)))

    Really good points. It’s a cliche now, but Hemingway is quoted as saying there are only three sports: Motor racing, mountain climbing, and bullfighting; all the rest being games. I cannot stand the orchestrated use of fouls to gain advantage in sport these last years. I do wonder if it reflects society or has in fact caused society to move in the same direction.

  172. JMcG says:
    @ScarletNumber

    The Tim Donaghy point shaving scandal wasn’t THAT long ago. The fact that they can still get the marks to bet on NBA games is remarkable. I don’t think every pro game in every professional sport in the world is fixed, but I do believe every game CAN be fixed.

    • Replies: @ScarletNumber
  173. @(((Owen)))

    Soccer, of course, is principally determined by penalty kicks since good teams can’t score against each other the regular way. And those penalties are determined by how convincing the whining of the players that claim to be tripped or hit can be.

    Unfortunately this is often the case in really top level matches, and it often amazes me how infrequently claims of referee bias are made, considering that the results of so many key games depend on referee decisions.

    On the other hand, millions of people are playing soccer every day all over the globe and referee decisions are not a huge factor in the vast majority of games.

  174. @JMcG

    Yes, it seems you are agreeing with me that basketball is more susceptible to this than the other sports. I think with Donaghy and the other scandals the fix wasn’t on the winner per se, but rather the point spread and the total. Donaghy also claims the 2002 Western Conference finals between the Lakers and the Kings was fixed, even though he wasn’t personally involved. If the Kings had won, they would have ended up playing the New Jersey Nets, and a Kings-Nets finals would have been a ratings disaster.

    A scene from 30 Rock episode “The Collection”. Keep in mind that Alec Baldwin’s character is named Jack Donaghy. Skip to 4:27.

  175. Logan says:
    @Autochthon

    OK, so where do I fit in?

    My father’s family came over from Sweden and Germany between 1860s and 1880s. No “posterity of those who created it” there.

    Mom’s family was really scrambled and quite likely she had some pre-Revolutionary ancestry.

    Is that good enough to qualify?

    • Replies: @Autochthon
  176. @Logan

    If you and yours fully assimilate(d), and completely embrace(d) our culture and your responsibilities, yes. If not, no. If there be any uncertainty, dispute, or problems, those of us whose ancestors created the place are entirely right to revoke your welcome, just as a man may invite someone to dinner but eject him if he behaves inappropriately.

    The vast majority of European immigrants have understood this idea and behaved appropriately. The vast majority of immigrants from other continents have not – and the difference is obvious to anyone, and why things have gone to Hell since approximately 1964.

    “Abide in Gondolin or die.”

  177. Anon[213] • Disclaimer says:
    @jim jones

    Pang pong looks like the sort of sport where nobody ever breaks a sweat

    It was invented by workers at a particular Hitachi factory out in the booniess, hence the improvised equipment. The workers played it on their lunch hour, and so they didn’t want to be smelly when they went back on the job.

    It spread to other Hitachi factories and their surrounding communities, and then broke out into the wider world based on its quirky backstory.

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