Posts tagged "golf"

What’s a race walk? The story behind obscure Olympic sports

By Jessica Pettengill  |  BSU at the Games

With many of the most famous Olympic athletes like Michael Phelps and Gabby Douglas having collected their gold medals, the Olympic Games could seem all but over to some.

But many of the lesser known Olympic events occur in the last two days. Race walking and half of the modern pentathlon were scheduled for today and tomorrow. Even if the coverage is minimal, what is it about these sports that keep fans coming back for more?

“It’s just hilarious to watch them,” Jennifer Hearn of London said, a spectator at the women’s race walk. “Hilarious but awesome. I would never be able to do this.”

The liquid-like fluidity of the racers’ strides and the incessant pumping of their arms allow the top contending racewalkers to reach speeds of almost 9 miles per hour.

“Sometimes I don’t know how some sports get into the Olympics,” Hearn added.

Many spectators were unaware of some of the lesser-known sports like modern pentathlon. It is one of the most eclectic events at the Olympic Games. It requires its athletes to compete in fencing, swimming, equestrian riding and a combined event of running and archery.

After researching the event on his iPhone, fellow women’s marathon bystander Nathan Moore said, “How do people even get into these kinds of [sports]?”

Many of these obscure sports have only been included in the Olympic Games for a fraction of what the more popular events have been. The most recently added were BMX, in 2008, and women’s wrestling, the newest addition to the 2012 Olympic Games. Conversely, baseball and softball were the most recently removed sports from the Olympic lineup after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

The Olympic Programme Commission (OPC) has official say over which 26 sports fill the Olympic venues each year. Golf and rugby have been approved for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge entrusted the Olympic Programme Commission with the mission to define… a process for reviewing the Olympic programme,” wrote the IOC in a detailed fact sheet released to explain the many changes occurring to the Olympic Games.

“Might as well throw in skateboarding while you’re at it,” Moore said. “Add something that will entertain everyone.”

“Roller sports” actually was one of the sports considered to add to the 2012 Olympic Games. It didn’t get the 2/3 final vote needed, but it could be a strong possibility in a future Olympic venue. The criteria the OPC reviews sports on depends on history and tradition, universality, popularity, image, athletes’ health, development of the International Federations and cost.

“I’d like to watch jump roping or waterskiing or something completely weird,” Hearn said.

Perhaps future Olympic Games will continue to see the addition of “weirder” sports.

Jessica Pettengill is a junior magazine journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Jessica and the BSU team at @jmpetty10@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

U.K. sports: dreary or daring?

I grew up in a family centered around athletics. My dad is a coach, my mom was an athletic trainer, and my brothers and I combined probably played every popular sport in the U.S. As I prepare for my trip to England this summer, centered around the biggest sporting event in the world, I’m becoming intrigued about the sports culture in the U.K. On one hand, ravenous European sports fans can be as intense as a Raiders fan during a playoff game. On the other hand, sports from across the pond do have a reputation to be rather … dreary. Is the difference between U.S. and U.K. sports so different?

Rugby
Rugby is the grandfather of football, American football that is. Basically, it’s football on steroids. There are fifteen players, and literally everybody on the field, or pitch, is in danger of taking a blow. Backs, essentially the scorers of rugby, can kick, throw and run the ball to score just like a football quarterback would. However, you are not allowed to throw the ball forward. Forwards are the linemen and they do all the tackling. There are also these weird team huddle groups called scrams, and they’re used like a face-off in hockey.

Honestly, I’m really intrigued by rugby. It’s is all about brute force and quick feet. It’s minimal protection and massive muscle. The average weight of a professional rugby player is 238 pounds. Bloody hell. What more could a female sports fan ask for?

Cricket
No matter how much I read up on cricket, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand the game. It’s sort of like baseball, in that there is a bat, a ball and to score you need to make runs. There are some fun twists that include wickets and bails. There are three wickets, or posts, that stand behind the batter. On top of the wickets are two pieces of wood called bails. If a batter knocks off the bails, then they’re out. There are only two “bases” that the batters run between. The positions are essentially the same: pitcher, batter, fielders.

It’s baseball mixed with Jenga. Did I also mention that cricket uniforms make the players look like they’re going out for tea afterwards?

Polo
Interestingly enough, Polo originated in India. It is legitimately the fastest sport in the world. The U.S. doesn’t really have a sport to compare to polo. We do have a men’s cologne named after it though.

Players on horses race full -peed towards a tiny ball, swinging giant mallets. What could possibly go wrong? Maybe not so ironically, a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that 64 percent of polo injuries were considered major, the most common of which were fractures and facial lacerations. So if you like demolition derby mixed with croquet and horse racing, polo is the sport for you.

Tennis, soccer (football), boxing, golf
Tennis, soccer, boxing and golf are other sports that are really popular in the United Kingdom. Soccer is an especially beloved pastime. Don’t call it soccer though, unless you want everyone to know that you are an uncultured American.
Some other sports words that you should know are: pitch (field), boots (cleats), kit (uniform), footie (game/match), etc., etc.

Even though cricket and polo are the only sports on this list that aren’t an official sport of the summer Olympic Games, I’m still excited to see all of these games and athletes in action.

Jessica Pettengill  |  Features Reporter 

@jmpetty10