Premiership Preview

If you already miss the international action of the World Cup, turn your attention to the English Premier League, which promises cosmopolitan action. The Premiership kicks off this Saturday, August 18th. To get ready, take a look at the BBC’s quick team by team preview, and the Guardian’s guide to off-season roster changes. Sky Sports also has a more in-depth breakdown of the 20 clubs. Here as well is a full schedule and a guide to soccer on TV in North America. This year the team to beat is the two-time defending champion, Chelsea. Since Russian tycoon…

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How big is the largest stadium in the U.S. and world these days?

This question, sent to us by Steve in Brooklyn, is more difficult than it might seem. The sporting facilities with the largest capacities are racetracks and speedways. Of those, the Indianapolis Speedway, with an estimated capacity of 250,000, may be the biggest. It tops the worldstadiums.com list, but no one is entirely certain how big Indy is. As for enclosed, field-centered venues, the biggest seems to be North Korea’s Rungnado May Day Stadium. Built in 1989, largely as a Kim Jong-Il vanity project, it has a capacity of 150,000. The Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho (a.k.a. the Maracanã)…

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The Lazy Boys of Summer

When the Philadelphia Phillies traded their All-Star rightfielder, Bobby Abreu, to the Yankees recently, a lot of Phillies fans were relieved to see him go. Although he was the team’s best position player for more than eight seasons, he was never really embraced by the city. He never led the team to the playoffs. The fans blamed him for that. Mostly, though, they thought he was lazy. I’ve always liked Abreu. For one thing, his offensive numbers are incredible. As a Phillie, he had eight straight seasons with 20 or more steals, an on-base percentage of .416…

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The Dope on Doping

Both Tour De France winner Floyd Landis and world record sprinter Justin Gatlin have been accused of artificially tinkering with their testosterone levels. In the 80s and 90s testosterone, which was often injected, was less popular than closely-related, synthetic anabolic steroids. But testosterone seems to be making a resurgence in the form of skin patches and creams. Testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone, which aids the development and strength of muscles. It is also said to increase aggressiveness and to reduce recovery time. Some scientists question its effectiveness, especially for the energy boost that Landis had on…

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Has a transgendered Pole ever won an Olympic medal?

Yes. At at least one transgendered Pole, the renowned sprinter Stella Walsh, won gold. Born Stanislawa Walasiewiczowna in Wierchownen, Poland, Walsh emigrated as a child to America where she competed in track and field for her Cleveland high school. During the 30s and 40s, she dominated women’s track and field events breaking world records, taking dozens of collegiate titles and winning Olympic gold at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles while competing for her native Poland. Walsh was shot dead during an attempted robbery attempt in 1981. An autopsy report revealed that the 69-year-old had male sex…

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Ogling Sports Googlers

Are you tired of simply obsessing about sports? Ready to obsess about people obsessing about sports? Let a new Google product act as your accomplice. Named Google Trends, it provides a peek at what teams, players, leagues, and sports others are searching for. The program tracks words and phrases Googled in the past two years. If you enter the phrase google trends, a graph shows a sudden spike of interest last spring when the new Google toy was unveiled. Enter two terms, the site offers a graph comparing their search frequency.These graphs can illustrate the obvious, more…

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Besuboru, Beisbol, Baseball

However you pronounce it, you’re saying, ‘national pastime.’ The question is, what nation? Italy has a baseball league. This year, Bologna’s Fortitudo B.C. seems strong. War or no, Israel looks ready to launch a league. Their tryouts are scheduled for later this month in the Berkshires. Cuba’s league offers fertile terrain for study. Even Antarctica fields a few games. Despite exotic settings, similarities run deep. Boston Red Sox fans had the Curse of the Bambino. The Hanshin Tigers of Japan have The Curse of Colonel Sanders. A good mascot must be hard to find. South Korea has…

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The Beginning

Sports were invented in Cincinnati in 1869. That year player-manager Harry Wright assembled the first professional baseball club, the Red Stockings, and matched them against the top teams in the nation. They won 58 games, tied one, and lost none. Big crowds trekked out to the ballparks and parade grounds to see them. Each fan paid 50 cents, and by the end of the season, the ’69 Red Stockings had performed in front of 200,000 people. Thousands more read about them in the burgeoning sports pages. Others complained about the players’ salaries. The modern spectator was born.…

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Cue the Aged

I am in my early 30s and still want to compete athletically. What sport offers me the best chance? It depends on what you mean by sport. If you consider a combination into the corner pocket athleticism, then you’re in luck. An Ohio University professor would have you take up billiards. As part of his groundbreaking psychological research in the 1950s, Prof. Harvey C. Lehman found that billiards masters are, on average, a few months past their 34th birthday. World-class players are almost a year and a half older than that by the time they are breaking…

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The Beautiful Calculations of Synchronized Swimming

Some sports make immediate sense. Like running. We can easily imagine how certain sports came to be: A caveman leaps across a stream, and the long jump is born. Escaping a hungry lion, an African narrowly clears a high branch before rolling into a small cave, and there you have the first high jump. Two cavalry units meet in a fierce battle of keep-away, thus inventing polo. But other sports do not mimic natural activities that your average homo sapien might take up on his own — sports (like basketball and cricket) where the rules, fine points,…

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