Stories tagged sports

Apr
01
2014

Maya ball game: When disputes arose during Maya ball games, players would reenact the play in slow motion for officials to determine if they made the correct call.
Maya ball game: When disputes arose during Maya ball games, players would reenact the play in slow motion for officials to determine if they made the correct call.Courtesy anth2589
The new Major League Baseball season is underway with lots of hoopla about the expanded use by umpires of using instant replay to reconsider close or controversial calls during the course of a game. It’s all overshadowed some amazing archaeological findings in Central America, where stele art and cave paintings have confirmed that the Maya ball game was governed by its own set of replay rulings.

Independent teams of archaeologists from the University of Michigan and Stanford have found evidence that disputes in games were resolved by an elaborate replay system. First working independently, they’ve now combined their research into this extensive report, co-published in Science and Sports Illustrated this month.

Of course, video technology was many centuries away in the future. But Maya ingenuity figured out a way to get around that hurdle in a creative fashion. Former Maya ball game players would position themselves around the field observing the actions of their contemporaries. If a controversial play occurred and a coach threw out his challenge marker, the former players would rely on their keen observation and game skills to reenact the play at a slower motion for officials to take a second or third look. According to limited data collected in the findings, officials’ calls were overturned about 36 percent of the time.

Key clue: Heiroglyphs and art on this pot helped researchers figure out that instant replay was a key part of Maya ball game officiating.
Key clue: Heiroglyphs and art on this pot helped researchers figure out that instant replay was a key part of Maya ball game officiating.Courtesy Loryn Leonard
Heiroglyphs explaining the process were careful to note how critical it was to get the calls correct in games, especially those at the highest level where the losing teams would be sacrificed. After three consecutive years of bad calls in championship games leading to the deaths of what should have been victorious players, the replay system was implemented.

Further causing the move to replay rulings was the large amount of wagers gamblers placed on the games each year at Chichen Itza, the Las Vegas of Maya cities. After that run of poor officiating, gambling leaders who had taken huge financial losses on the altered outcomes threatened ball game leaders with execution if they didn’t come up with a more just system of deciding calls.

Ha!
Ha!Courtesy Wikipedia
And looking at the infamous Maya calendar, the new replay system was put into effect on the Gregorian Calendar equivalent of April 1, 1414 BCE, exactly 1600 years ago today, April Fool’s Day 2014.!

Sep
11
2012

Throw like a girl: Researchers see significant differences in the data about how far and how fast boys can throw things compared to girls. Is this something we should be talking about?
Throw like a girl: Researchers see significant differences in the data about how far and how fast boys can throw things compared to girls. Is this something we should be talking about?Courtesy dbwilldo
Right off the bat, let me say that this study was conducted by a female. And she asks a very interesting, and maybe stereotypical, question. Please read this full post before you jump to any conclusions. Or jump on me for posting this.

Do girls really "throw like girls?"

It's standard trash talk one male can hurl at another male who doesn't exhibit the form and proficiency of throwing that's usually expected. But professor Janet Hyde at the University of Wisconsin has data to back up the fact that men throw significantly farther and harder than women.

She actually has studied a variety of gender differences in her research. And the differences in throwing are one of the only categories where those gender differences are off the charts. You can read a full story about it right here.

To summarize, girls under teenage throw 51 to 69 percent the distance of their male peers. The differences grow as people get older. Teenage girls, on average, throw only 39 percent as far as teenage boys – throwing a ball for distance about 75 feet compared to 192 feet by males.

There is acknowledgement of the fact that boys in general get more practice in throwing based on the activities that they typically do compared to girls. But are there other factors.

Click the link to see some interesting theories about how evolution may have a role in this, leading to physiological differences between the muscles and movement patterns of males and females. Interestingly, the gap exists, but is narrower, between males and females in less advanced cultures.

Should we even be talking about this? Some think pointing out these differences might make girls give up hope on trying to improve their throwing. Others think data like this helps identify the difference and give girls, teachers and coaches information on how to improve. What do you think?

Of course, all these numbers still can't explain why Pee Wee Herman continues to throw like a girl.

Bolting for gold: Jamaica's Usain Bolt (yellow jersey) became a two-time 100-meter gold medalist in the Olympics Sunday. How much has the winning 100 meter time decreased over the 116-year history of the Olympics?
Bolting for gold: Jamaica's Usain Bolt (yellow jersey) became a two-time 100-meter gold medalist in the Olympics Sunday. How much has the winning 100 meter time decreased over the 116-year history of the Olympics?Courtesy Eckhard Pecher
Each Olympics, one of the marquee moments is the men's 100-meter dash finals. Who will be crowned the fastest man on the planet? Did you watch Usain Bolt's gold-medal run Sunday night? Check this New York Times interactive display that "charts" a race between all Olympic 100-meter medalists over the past 116 years. How much has one of the ultimate human performance measures improved over that time? What factors have made humans get so much faster over that time?

Physics in action

by Liza on Jan. 12th, 2012

Get out there, if you can, and watch skaters take on the insane Red Bull Crashed Ice course here in downtown St. Paul. It's a great place to watch all sorts of physics in action. And bundle up. Winter's back, suddenly, and the laws of thermodynamics apply to you, too.

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It's the eve of the big event – March Madness kicks off tomorrow and hoops junkies like myself will be in heaven for three weeks. But what about academics junkies? For the fifth straight year, a college organization has run the NCAA men's basketball brackets through the academic wringer, advancing schools through the brackets based on a formula of classroom success for each school. The school with the more success advances through each round of the brackets. Past editions of the challenge have produced academic champions such as Bucknell, Holy Cross and Davidson. Last year, however, the academic and hoops championship teams were one and the same: North Carolina. Who wins this year's academic bracket challenge? You have to click here to find out. I will tell you that it's not my alma mater, Mankato State.

Sep
01
2009

From the loud chants coming from students for their favorite sports athletes in 1883, to the high extent of the first Liberty (stunt) in 1976. Cheer leading has went from loud chants to extreme stunts, which has increased the risk of injury. The increased risk for injury has came from the change in activity being done in cheer leading, because now they are starting to use more gymnastic like stunts which require a trained & stunt certified coaches. Without that the injury rates continue to increase.Cheer leading is the most dangerous female sport. The injuries range from fractures,broken bones, paralysis, & even sometimes death. It only takes one mistake to change someones life, so why not prevent it by taking every precaution to ensure safety & maintain all physical abilities. This teenage cheerleader suffered the pain due to the mistake of her teammates.I think there should be a regulation that prohibits bending the rules & regulations for cheer leading stunts because some coaches tend to bend them & that's how people get hurt. There should be rule that there needs to be more than two spotters because anything can happen.I personally stand by those who say cheer leading is more dangerous than football. Where do you stand? How is cheer leading a part of physics?Would you EVER take that risk of being thrown in the air?cheer or no cheer?

Aug
24
2009

Philadelphia Phillies' second-baseman Eric Brunlett made an amazing and unassisted game-ending triple play against the New York Mets. The extremely rare play came in the ninth inning with the Mets trailing by two runs but threatening with runners on first and second base and no outs. Both base runners were stealing on a 2-2 pitch when the Mets batter hit a line drive right to Brunlett, who caught the ball for the first out, stepped on second base for the second out, then tagged out the runner from first. It's only the 15th unassisted triple play in major league history, and only the second to end a game. The poor Mets. The odds of this happening must be astronomical, but I'll let someone else figure that out.

Rotator cuff injury changes from green to purple: Upon joining the Minnesota Vikings this week, Brett Favre related that he's had a rotator cuff injury in his arm for several seasons.
Rotator cuff injury changes from green to purple: Upon joining the Minnesota Vikings this week, Brett Favre related that he's had a rotator cuff injury in his arm for several seasons.Courtesy PSUMark2006
Since Science Buzz is about the only Minnesota information source that has not had an item in recent days about new Viking quarterback Brett Favre, I'm going to change that and post this video of Favre speaking about the mysteries of rotator cuff injuries, evidently something he's been dealing with a lot longer than anyone knew.

Groovy, man:: This drawing shows the new style of golf ball using grooves rather than dimples. Grooves set into triangle shapes can improve putting accuracy without sacrificing long-hitting distance state the developers of the new ball.
Groovy, man:: This drawing shows the new style of golf ball using grooves rather than dimples. Grooves set into triangle shapes can improve putting accuracy without sacrificing long-hitting distance state the developers of the new ball.Courtesy WIPO
Not that Tiger Woods needs any extra help, but there's a new golf ball on the drawing boards that could help improve putting accuracy without sacrificing long-club hitting distance. Read this to see how re-engineering a golf ball is as simple as changing its dimples into grooves.

Oct
15
2008

With the latest thrashing by the Devil Rays -> are the Boston Red Sox showing that the statistically better team can always be eliminated by a "hot" team?

a) Yes - win streaks are more powerful than long term stats
b) No - Long term statistics should be the deciding factor of the contests
c) Neither -> head to head is the only way to decide who is the best team