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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Sounding the National Pasttime

Since baseball’s beginnings, sound has been important. Outfielders listen for a sharp crack or a dull thunk to help them get a jump on the ball. Coaches listen to how a fastball hits a catcher’s mitt to see if a pitcher has his best stuff. Recently, science has begun to explain how players use their hearing to do what they do. For example, a centerfielder cannot visually tell the difference of a bloop over second base and a blast to the warning track. Instead he listens. On the forefront of baseball acoustics is Dr. Daniel Russell, a…

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 World Cup-ology

Everyone from financial analysts to geographers has weighed in on the 2006 World Cup. Some offer small insights related to their particular disciplines, others elaborate predictions based on rigorous, though admittedly non-sports related, analysis. All seem driven by a deep desire to shoehorn their professional expertise into some aspect of the tournament. The investment banking giant Goldman Sachs offers one of the better options with its annual report ‘The World Cup and Economics.’ The 57-page report offers an economic overview of each nation with a team in the tournament along with some soccer analysis. Additional soccer commentary…

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Who caught the highest pop up ever?

If you asked catcher Joe Sprinz he would likely admit he wasn’t too excited after winning the honor in 1939. As a publicity stunt for the defunct minor league San Francisco Seals team, Sprinz caught a ball let loose from a blimp floating 800 feet above. The force of the ball slammed his mitt back into his face smashing at least four teeth and breaking his jaw, according to an account of the feat. Sprinz’s catch came a year after a couple of players managed to hang onto baseballs dropped 700 feet from a Cleveland skyscraper. A…

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