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Saturday, May 23, 2009

History of Baseball

Baseball is America’s national pastime, but how much do Americans really know about the history of baseball? The game has been played in the United States for nearly two centuries, from its humble beginnings in the Northeast to the multi-million dollar professional sports franchise we know today. The history of baseball began when the English game of “rounders” was first played in America, where it was referred to as “townball,” “baseball,” or simply “base.” The first milestone in the history of baseball came about in the mid-nineteenth century.

Alexander Cartwright invented the game we know today as baseball in 1845. Cartwright’s New York Knickerbocker Base Ball Club was the first organized ball team in the history of baseball. Though the Knickerbockers were strictly an amateur team from formation to disbandment, Cartwright developed the “Knickerbocker Rules” of baseball, which were later adopted as standard by the growing sports league. One of the most significant changes from rounders to Cartwright’s baseball was the ban on “plugging” a runner—which meant hitting him with the ball to get an out. Cartwright intended baseball to be a gentleman’s game.

The first recorded game in the history of baseball took place in 1846 between the Knickerbockers and the nine-man New York Baseball Club. Despite having invented the game, the Knickerbockers lost 23 to 1. Still, the Knickerbocker Rules were accepted and implemented. At first there were two sets of baseball rules, commonly called the New York rules (Knickerbocker) and the Massachusetts rules. However, the Massachusetts variations were eventually discarded.

1857 marked another turning point in the history of baseball when the first organized baseball league was formed. Along with fifteen other teams, the Knickerbockers formed the National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP) and established the first championship games. League membership grew to nearly 100 clubs by 1865, and in two short years there were more than 400 clubs enrolled in the NABBP. The most prominent member club of the NABBP was the Cincinnati Red Stockings, who also held the distinction of being the first professional team, as they were the first with openly salaried players. At its inception, the NABBP was an amateur league.

Popularity among the American public marked the history of baseball almost since the beginning. By 1860, baseball was already being hailed as the national pastime, a tag that remains with the sport today. 1870 brought another hallmark in the history of baseball when a division developed between professional and amateur players, resulting in the formation of the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players. The name was soon changed to the National League of Professional Base Ball Players as the amateur clubs drifted from the baseball scene, and this became the National League that operates today.

Beginning in 1900, the history of baseball entered a dark period known as the “dead ball era”. This period, which lasted until 1919, was characterized by low-scoring, pitcher-dominated games that offered little in the way of entertainment for stadium crowds. Adding to the troubles was the actual monetary cost of the baseball itself: three dollars, a hefty sum at the time that club owners were reluctant to pay. For this reason, a single baseball was typically used for an entire game, and by the end of the ninth the ball would end up misshapen and black with mud, grass and tobacco juice. “Dead ball” also referred to the condition of the baseball itself.

Despite its troubles, the sport of baseball continued to flourish. During the dead ball era, the history of baseball was fortified with the construction of new, large stadiums dedicated to the game. Famous fields built in the early 20th century included Fenway Park in Boston; Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field; Shibe Park in Philadelphia; and Chicago’s two baseball signatures, Comiskey Park and Wrigley Field. This era also featured some of the first legendary players in the history of baseball, including celebrated shortstop Honus Wagner and the irascible Ty Cobb. Legendary pitchers Cy Young, Walter “The Big Train” Johnson, and Grover Cleveland also hung their stars during the dead ball era.

What was responsible for the end of the dead ball era? There is little disagreement that a major turning point in the history of baseball came about in 1920 with a single rule, and a single player. The rule, enacted by the National League, outlawed tampering with the ball, which eliminated pitcher tricks such as spitballs, shine balls, and other methods of producing unnatural baseball flight. Discolored balls, which were harder for players to see, were also banned. This was strictly enforced following the death of Ray Chapman, who was struck in the temple by a wild pitch from Carl Mays and died the following day. The player who turned the tide of baseball was a star of the Boston Red Sox who was sold to the New York Yankees at the close of the 1919 season, by the name of George Herman Ruth: baseball’s own “Babe” Ruth.

Perhaps no single player has had such a major impact on the history of baseball as Babe Ruth. Red Sox manager Edward Barrow shocked the baseball world when he pulled Ruth from the pitcher’s mound to place him in the outfield. However, Barrow’s reasoning soon became apparent as Ruth’s hitting prowess proved his worth in the batting lineup: the Babe achieved an unmatched 29 runs during his last season with the Sox, a number that jumped to an unbelievable 54 in 1920 when he joined the Yankees. This penchant for power hitting became wildly popular with baseball crowds, and a shift in the game balance from pitching to hitting effectively closed out the dead ball era to usher in baseball’s golden years.

The history of baseball featured several further milestones. The Baseball Hall of Fame was instituted in 1936 with the election of five players: Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, and living legend Babe Ruth. 1947 saw the re-introduction of African-Americans to the national leagues, and in 1951 center fielder Willie Mays rocked the world of baseball with the infamous “shot heard round the world”. Also during the 1950’s, baseball’s first television appearance skyrocketed the sport’s popularity, giving baseball a momentous shove to the pariah status it enjoys today.

History of Soccer

The history of Soccer or football takes it origins back over 3000 years. One cannot exactly point out as to when and where the game actually began. A lot of references agree that China is the birthplace of “kicking the ball”. Documentary evidence reveals that an organized activity resembling football transpired during the 2nd century BC in the reign of the Han Dynasty. The soldiers from the Chinese military used to play the game during their free time; kicking the ball into a small net. It is also reported that a field was set for playing the game of “ball-kicking” at Kyoto in Japan.

The resemblance of the current soccer-type game can be found in the game played by the ancient Greeks and Romans. The teams during those times consisted of up to 27 players. Britain is unarguably the place from which the modern soccer came into existence. In fact, the game caught the frenzy of the masses from the beginning of the 8th century. Football has always been termed as Soccer in Britain. Scotland and Britain together share the credit for being the co-founders of the organized sport.

Soccer is played with a lot of passion and enthusiasm in today’s age. However, in early days the game was played fiercely - almost akin to a war. Football was played in the name of honor, valor and manhood. It was used as a medium to settle scores with the enemies. It is reported that in medieval times, towns and hamlets played against rival towns and hamlets and indulged in punching, biting, kicking and cutting into the flesh of players during the course of the game. The only “goal” during those games was to move the ball to a pre-defined spot that was agreed upon before the game started. Players had to weather physical assaults and bodily harm, apart from playing the game, to reach that spot. The game was participated in by hordes of people and the game would last the entire day. Taking into account the violent dimensions of the game, there were many attempts made by authorities to ban Soccer. In 1331, King Edward III passed a law to suppress football. Scotland followed suit when King James 1, in 1424, sought to ban the game in his parliamentary speech. Queen Elizabeth 1 of England had reportedly passed a law by which the soccer players could be put in prison for a week and were thereafter ordered to observe penance in church. However, no law could stop the fervor of people toward the game. The game was too popular in Britain to be curbed.

In 1815, the renowned English school, Eton College, laid down a code of conduct regarding football for other schools and universities to follow. This set of rules came to be known as Cambridge Rules, which were diligently followed by most of the educational institutions by 1848. Football was now divided into two separate games - those who followed the Cambridge rules and those who followed the rules laid down by the Rugby school. The Rugby school allowed shoving, tripping, shin kicking and using hands while handling the ball.
On October 26th, 1863, eleven clubs in London sent their body of eminent members for a federation meeting in the Freemason’s Tavern to streamline a single set of fundamental rules that would govern the matches played amongst them. The meeting was quite eventful, as it led to the creation of The Football Association. The Rugby school did not agree with the outcome and so there was a split on December 8th, 1863, where the Rugby Football and The Football Association parted ways. The Football Association laid down strict rules in 1869, which discouraged any kind of handling of the ball. This laid down the norm of the basic rule of Soccer that is the essence of the modern game.

On January 1st, 1878, Patrick Thistle, a leading Scottish football player, traveled to England for a match to be played against Darwen. Two prosperous mill owners, JC Ashton and Nathaniel Walsh, founded the Darwen club in 1871. One of Patrick’s best players, Fergus Sutler, wrote to the Darwen club secretary and stated that he wanted to settle in Lancashire and play for the club. His friend John Love, who was the goalkeeper for England, accompanied Fergus. Both joined the Darwen team and the club began to adopt the Scottish style of football which involved playing the game in the right and smooth manner with passes and proper positioning of the players rather than playing the game roughly and haphazardly. The new set of skills helped the team immensely and that became quite evident when Darwen drew a match in the 1879 FA cup against Old Etonians, veterans in the game. People began to appreciate the professional way in which the game was played by the Darwen club. Both Sutler and John became the first stars in the game of soccer.

The term “soccer” has an interesting piece of history attached to it. In the 1880s, the Oxford students developed a panache of using slang with an “er” added to the end of words they had purposely shortened. “Rugger”, for example, was slang for Rugby Football. The story goes that a student called Charles Wreford Brown was invited for a game of “Rugger”. His reply was, “No soccer!” He had actually abridged the word “Soc” from association, and added “er.” The term “soccer” was thus born, and Wreford Brown went on to play international football, or Soccer, for England.

In 1885, the professional way of playing the football was legalized by The Football Association, paving an eventful landmark in the history of Soccer. This move changed the way the game was played universally. Soccer became the greatest sport on the face of the planet. In 1888, William McGregor, a Scot, created the English Football League by asking 12 clubs to comply with a standard home and “away from home” fixture list. The director of Aston Villa club is credited with merging 12 clubs, namely:

Accrington (Old Reds)
Aston Villa
Blackburn Rovers
Bolton Wanderers
Burnley
Derby County
Everton
Notts County
Preston North End
Stoke City
West Bromwich Albion
Wolverhampton Wanderers

Soccer steadily grew in fame and sponsorship and today it is the universal game played across all continents. The history of Soccer has seen a lot of tests, triumphs and turbulent times. What has come up trumps is the unwavering spirit of the game. The world’s largest spectator sport drew a television audience of 28.8 billion viewers, raving and ranting for their favorites in the 2002 Fifa Cup. Soccer has come a long way since its inception, and now with the FIFA world cup kicking off in June 2006, the fever is still raging.

History of Tennis

The history of tennis dates back several thousand years. The game was first created by European monks to be played for entertainment purposes during religious ceremonies. To begin with, the ball was hit with the hand. Soon the leather glove came into existence. This was soon replaced with an adaptive handle for effective hitting and serving of the ball. Thus was born the first racquet. With the evolution of the racket, the tennis balls also underwent frequent alterations. The first tennis ball was wooden. It gave way to a bouncier, leather ball filled with cellulose material. The monasteries across Europe cherished the game during the 14th century much to the chagrin of the Church.

The game soon became very popular, predominantly in France where it was adopted by the royal family. During the period between the 16th and 18th centuries, the game called ' Jeu de paumme' - the game of the palm was a highly regarded by kings and noblemen. The French players would begin the game by shouting the word “tenez!” which meant “Play!” The game soon came to be called royal or “real tennis.”

In 1874, Major Walter Wingfield acquired the patent rights for the equipments and rules for the game which bore close resemblance to the modern tennis. On the same year, the first tennis courts emerged in the United States. The game soon spread to different parts of the world like Russia, Canada, China and India. The smooth croquet courts served as ready tennis courts during those times. The original court devised by Wingfield was in the shape of an hourglass which tapered at the net. It was shorter than the modern court which we have today. His version of tennis courts and the rules of games underwent a fair amount of changes and amendments till the game gave to the modernized version which is played today.

History of open tennis US

The US Open tennis tournament, also known as “Open” or “US Open” is the fourth and the last event of the Grand Slam tennis tournaments. The tennis matches are placed for a period of two weeks, generally in the months of August or September, annually. The history of the open tennis is borne from two distinct tournaments-one for women and the other for men. The event was first held in August 1881 at Newport Casino in Newport Rhode Island. It was a men’s singles tournament and it was called the US National Singles Championship for men. .

The year 1900 saw the US Nation Men’s Double Championship being played for the first time. The first official US Women’s National Singles Championship was played at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in the year 1887. Ellen Hansel was the winner of the tournament. This was soon followed by the US Women’s National Doubles Championship in the year 1889.

US open tennis history

It has been a good 121 years since the first US open tennis game was played. It is the richest tennis tournament in the world with about $15 million as prize money and the triumph is definitely worth the sweat. The thought of creating the US open came to light after the US Lawn Tennis Association, founded in May 1881, volunteered to hold a national championship.

Twenty six players graced the introductory contest held in Newport Island, Rhode Island. It was called the US National Singles Championship. The members from the US National Lawn Tennis Association were only eligible to play the competition. The first singles winner was Richard Sears. He not only won the tournament for the first year but he was the reigning champion for the next six years.

The men’s Doubles happened because the championship began to move around the country with nine different places hosting the event at least once. The men’s doubles was split into an East and West competition. Clarence Clark and W.F. Taylor took the first doubles title for the match held in the year 1900.

The commencement of “Open era” (whereby players could play in all tournaments), in 1968, led to creation of the modern event as we know presently. Five different competitions were merged into one US Open Championship, held at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, Queens, New York. The prize money was at $100,000, and was shared fittingly between the 96 men and 63 women who graced the event. In 1970, the US Open was the first tennis tournament to introduce the tie-breaker system. By the year 1978, the tournament was shifted to its current home or the courts for the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow, New York.


Tennis scoring history

There are two theories which revolve around the Tennis scoring history. The first one states that the scoring has its origins in ancient numerology. In medieval times, the number 60 was considered auspicious or “complete” in a similar manner to which the number 100 is considered to be a “complete” figure now. The medieval adaptation of tennis thus considered 60 to be the “game” with steps of four points like 15, 30, 45 (or 40 as it is today) and finally 60.

The second theory is attributed to the presence of a clock at the end of the tennis court. A quarter move of the clock hand was made after each break with the score being referred to as 15, 30, 45 and finally 60.


History of the Tennis court

The early tennis courts were quite different from the current day lawn tennis courts most of us are familiar with. The early version of the game is now called “real tennis” and England’s Hampton court built in 1625 is still used presently. Courts of the present times are hardly used today. The court then was a narrow indoor court where the ball was played off walls. The net was five feet high on the ends and three feet high in the middle.

The year 1877 saw the All England Club coming up with the first Wimbledon tournament and the tournament committee played with a rectangular court and played with a set of rules that are associated with the modernized version the game.

Tennis particularly, the US Open is a test of skill, accuracy and agility. There is a huge amount of prize money to be won and a name to be earned for oneself. The game is popular with billions of people around the world. If you want to be fit and agile, grab the racquet and head out for an invigorating game of tennis!

History of BasketBall

The history of basketball finds it way back to the year 1891. It was a Canadian physical education instructor by the name of James Naismith who introduced the game of basketball to the world. He was born in Ontario and taught physical education at McGill University and Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts. James Naismith, during his stint with Springfield College, a YMCA training school during that time, invented the indoor sport with able support and guidance from the American phys-ed specialist Luther Hasley.

The game commenced with 18 men at Springfield College in Massachusetts. Naismith was given a deadline of 14 days to create an indoor game that would provide “an athletic distraction” (in the words of Hasley) to the nasty and disorderly class. It was a tough call for Naismith, who had to exercise a lot of patience and infuse positive enthusiasm into the minds of his students to engage in an outdoor game that was to be played indoors in the best way possible. He recalled a game he used to play as a child and improvised on its concept.

Naismith was instrumental in laying down 13 rules for the basketball game. The rules stated that the ball should be thrown in any direction with one or both hands. He made it clear that a person could not run with the ball. The player should throw it from the place from which he caught the ball in the first place. Players had to refrain from using the fist when handling or batting the ball. He had termed shouldering, holding, tripping, pushing or striking in any way of an opponent as a foul in the first instance. If things of this nature happened the second time, the person who caused the infringement of the rule would be disqualified or would not be substituted at all. If any side made three consecutive fouls, it was to be counted as a goal for the opposing side.

Naismith also made it clear that if the ball went out of bounds, it had to be thrown into the field of play by the person touching it. This player had the right to hold the ball for only five seconds. If held longer, the chance to throw went to the opposing side. He gave special importance to the umpire who had to judge the player and report to the referee when players made three consecutive fouls. He defined the time period of the game as being comprised of two fifteen-minute halves with fifteen minutes breaks in between. Naismith concluded that the side making the most goals was to be termed as winner.

The game caught the fancy of the YMCA class and the popularity of the game grew, though Naismith quietly shied away from taking any credit for his invention. He wanted the game to be enjoyed as a recreational activity, but he never imagined that the game would soon develop into a passionate and intensely competitive sport. Naismith’s moment of glory came, however, when he was invited by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) to witness basketball become an Olympic sport at the 1936 games in Berlin. He passed away in 1939 and since then the game has grown in fame and prosperity the world over. In 1959, James Naismith entered the Basketball Hall of Fame (called the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame)

The first formal rules for the game were introduced in 1895. It was not until 1897 that teams of five players on each side became standard in the history of basketball. Iron hoops and a hammock style basket came into existence in 1893. A decade later, open-ended nets came into existence, which did away with the practice of manually retrieving the ball from the basket each time a goal was made. After the end of World War II, there was a need to infuse sports entertainment into the large sports arenas during the times not occupied by pro hockey and college basketball games. This gave rise to the history of basketball in its pure, professional championship format.

Walter Brown of Boston introduced professional basketball in the form of the Basketball Association of America in the summer of 1946. The esteemed members of the new league were New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington, Detroit, Chicago, Providence, Toronto, St. Louis, and Boston. The league played in big arenas in large cities but the players were not as talented as the ones in the National Basketball League, the recognized league operating chiefly in smaller cities in the Midwest. However, some people from the NBL joined the fray and the strength of B.A.A picked up as college stars and fresh young talent entered the league. The regular season started and the Washington Capitols were the clear winners in the Eastern Division, with the Philadelphia Warriors taking second place and the New York Knickerbockers grabbing the third and final playoff spot.

The Western Division had the Chicago Stags narrowly edging out the St.Louis Bombers with a one-gain tiebreaker at the end of the regular season. The Cleveland Rebels acquired the third playoff spot. The playoff system devised by the league pitted the first ranking teams, the second ranking teams and the third ranking teams against each other in the opening round. The games began with the Stags usurping the Caps in six games and Philadelphia outdoing St. Louis in a three-game showdown of second-place finishers, while New York defeated Cleveland in three games in the third bracket. The Warriors defeated the Knicks to move into the finals with the Stags.

The finals of the first championship of BAA (the present day NBA) opened in Philadelphia with Joe Fulks scoring 37 points, leading his Warriors to a victory against the Stags. Though the Stags won the fourth game, the Warriors won the overall title with an 83-80 victory with a 34-point contribution from Fulks. Howie Dallmar is credited with hitting the winning basket to break an 80-80 tie, with only a minute left before the finish of the game.

The history of Basketball has witnessed a lot of landmark events that have increased the popularity of the game to dizzying heights. It is almost a second religion to the sport-loving people in the US. No doubt, basketball is heralded as a sport that gives a healthy balance to the physical, mental and spiritual state. This is truly the game that keeps you on your toes!

History of BasketBall

The history of basketball finds it way back to the year 1891. It was a Canadian physical education instructor by the name of James Naismith who introduced the game of basketball to the world. He was born in Ontario and taught physical education at McGill University and Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts. James Naismith, during his stint with Springfield College, a YMCA training school during that time, invented the indoor sport with able support and guidance from the American phys-ed specialist Luther Hasley.

The game commenced with 18 men at Springfield College in Massachusetts. Naismith was given a deadline of 14 days to create an indoor game that would provide “an athletic distraction” (in the words of Hasley) to the nasty and disorderly class. It was a tough call for Naismith, who had to exercise a lot of patience and infuse positive enthusiasm into the minds of his students to engage in an outdoor game that was to be played indoors in the best way possible. He recalled a game he used to play as a child and improvised on its concept.

Naismith was instrumental in laying down 13 rules for the basketball game. The rules stated that the ball should be thrown in any direction with one or both hands. He made it clear that a person could not run with the ball. The player should throw it from the place from which he caught the ball in the first place. Players had to refrain from using the fist when handling or batting the ball. He had termed shouldering, holding, tripping, pushing or striking in any way of an opponent as a foul in the first instance. If things of this nature happened the second time, the person who caused the infringement of the rule would be disqualified or would not be substituted at all. If any side made three consecutive fouls, it was to be counted as a goal for the opposing side.

Naismith also made it clear that if the ball went out of bounds, it had to be thrown into the field of play by the person touching it. This player had the right to hold the ball for only five seconds. If held longer, the chance to throw went to the opposing side. He gave special importance to the umpire who had to judge the player and report to the referee when players made three consecutive fouls. He defined the time period of the game as being comprised of two fifteen-minute halves with fifteen minutes breaks in between. Naismith concluded that the side making the most goals was to be termed as winner.

The game caught the fancy of the YMCA class and the popularity of the game grew, though Naismith quietly shied away from taking any credit for his invention. He wanted the game to be enjoyed as a recreational activity, but he never imagined that the game would soon develop into a passionate and intensely competitive sport. Naismith’s moment of glory came, however, when he was invited by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) to witness basketball become an Olympic sport at the 1936 games in Berlin. He passed away in 1939 and since then the game has grown in fame and prosperity the world over. In 1959, James Naismith entered the Basketball Hall of Fame (called the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame)

The first formal rules for the game were introduced in 1895. It was not until 1897 that teams of five players on each side became standard in the history of basketball. Iron hoops and a hammock style basket came into existence in 1893. A decade later, open-ended nets came into existence, which did away with the practice of manually retrieving the ball from the basket each time a goal was made. After the end of World War II, there was a need to infuse sports entertainment into the large sports arenas during the times not occupied by pro hockey and college basketball games. This gave rise to the history of basketball in its pure, professional championship format.

Walter Brown of Boston introduced professional basketball in the form of the Basketball Association of America in the summer of 1946. The esteemed members of the new league were New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington, Detroit, Chicago, Providence, Toronto, St. Louis, and Boston. The league played in big arenas in large cities but the players were not as talented as the ones in the National Basketball League, the recognized league operating chiefly in smaller cities in the Midwest. However, some people from the NBL joined the fray and the strength of B.A.A picked up as college stars and fresh young talent entered the league. The regular season started and the Washington Capitols were the clear winners in the Eastern Division, with the Philadelphia Warriors taking second place and the New York Knickerbockers grabbing the third and final playoff spot.

The Western Division had the Chicago Stags narrowly edging out the St.Louis Bombers with a one-gain tiebreaker at the end of the regular season. The Cleveland Rebels acquired the third playoff spot. The playoff system devised by the league pitted the first ranking teams, the second ranking teams and the third ranking teams against each other in the opening round. The games began with the Stags usurping the Caps in six games and Philadelphia outdoing St. Louis in a three-game showdown of second-place finishers, while New York defeated Cleveland in three games in the third bracket. The Warriors defeated the Knicks to move into the finals with the Stags.

The finals of the first championship of BAA (the present day NBA) opened in Philadelphia with Joe Fulks scoring 37 points, leading his Warriors to a victory against the Stags. Though the Stags won the fourth game, the Warriors won the overall title with an 83-80 victory with a 34-point contribution from Fulks. Howie Dallmar is credited with hitting the winning basket to break an 80-80 tie, with only a minute left before the finish of the game.

The history of Basketball has witnessed a lot of landmark events that have increased the popularity of the game to dizzying heights. It is almost a second religion to the sport-loving people in the US. No doubt, basketball is heralded as a sport that gives a healthy balance to the physical, mental and spiritual state. This is truly the game that keeps you on your toes!

History of Football

“Football” before the 19th century referred to any number of ball games played on foot. The rules of these games differed from one another, some allowing the use of hands “running games”, others forbidding it “kicking games”. One legend has it that the football game rugby, American football’s ancestor, was invented when an Englishman grew tired of the no hands restriction, picked the ball up, and ran. Out of an interest to enforce the rules of the game the other players tackled the fellow. So much fun was this diversion that running football games were born. Whether this is true or not is unknown, but what is known is that football does have its origins in the games played by pre-colonial European peasants.

The first vestiges of what would become American football are found in the 19th century in the games played by students at the elite schools and universities of the United States. A particularly violent running game was played at Princeton University circa 1820, and around this time a kicking game was also being played by students of Dartmouth College. Rules for the Dartmouth game, known as “Old Division Football”, were published in 1871. The first running game to codify its rules was the popular English sport, rugby, and it did so in 1845.

While there is some degree of debate over what constitutes the first American football team, most sports historians point to the Oneida Football Club, a Boston club founded in 1861. Nobody knows what rules this club used; whether they played a running, kicking, or hybrid version of the game. It is also known that rugby was taking off in Canada around this time. The Montreal Football club formed in 1868 and is said to have played a variant of English rugby. This became the root of Canadian football, which is important here for it later had a large influence on American football’s development.

It is not clear what the rules and regulations most of these early football games followed. However, the infamous Rutgers v. Princeton game in 1869 opens a window to the past. The game was played by two teams of 25 people each. Each team was composed of 11 “fielders”, 12 “bulldogs”, and two “peanutters” whose job was to hang out near the opposing team’s goal so as to score from unguarded positions. This fact suggests there was no such thing as an “offside” rule at this time. American football at this point closely resembled soccer in the sense that a team scored goals instead of touchdowns and throwing or running with the ball was not allowed.

While the NFL states that this early game was indeed based on soccer and not rugby, it did begin intercollegiate football games. Four years later, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, and Rutgers codified the first ever set of intercollegiate rules for football. However, these rules forbade players from throwing the ball or running with it. It was soccer.

It is Harvard we have to thank for American football. Harvard representatives knew in advance that the four schools above planned on codifying rules forbidding aggressive physical contact and the carrying of the ball, so they refused to attend. Harvard’s obstinacy on behalf of rugby led shortly thereafter to the McGill v. Harvard match of 1874 and the Harvard v. Yale game of 1875. Due to the popularity of these matches other US universities began to field rugby teams. Finally, in 1876 a meeting was held between Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, and Yale where England’s Rugby Union rules were adopted by all four schools, but with two key changes. No longer would the scoring of a touch down be nullified if the opposing team kicked a field goal.

Walter Camp is widely considered the father of modern American football. Between 1880 and 1883 this coach of the Yale football team came up with several major adjustments to the game: an eleven player team, a smaller field, and the scrimmage –a player handing the ball backward to begin the play. An even more important alteration, if the offensive team failed to gain five yards after three downs they were forced to surrender the ball. Camp also established the norm of a seven-man line, a quarterback, two halfbacks, and a fullback. Thanks to Walter Camp, football as we know it finally took shape.

Football soon became popular among the general public, which in 1892 led to the sport becoming a source of income for outstanding players. On November 12, 1892 William Heffelinger, a Yale All-American guard, became the first professional football player. A Pittsburgh club paid him $500 to play against another Pittsburgh team. Three years later, the first all professional game was played in Pennsylvania between the Latrobe YMCA and the Jeannette Atheltic Club.

Over the next decade American football developed a reputation as a high injury and high mortality sport. Eighteen players were killed in 1905 alone. This was in part due to lack of protective gear and the use of interlocking defensive formations, as well as a tendency for teammates to drag ball-carrying players forward to gain extra yards. The year 1905 began a period of reform through which was developed a neutral zone between scrimmage lines. Furthermore, it was mandatory that six players from each team were positioned at this neutral zone. The forward pass, a distinct break from rugby and a signature of American football, was also legalized at this time.

However, these changes were not enough. In 1908 33 more players were killed on the field. Between 1910 and 12 interlocking formations were finally banned and more protective padding introduced, both these measures helped reduce the death and injury toll. Other changes made at this time included the addition of a fourth down, and the six point touchdown.

It was not until 1920 that the first professional football league was established. Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe was elected president of the American Professional Football Association and its 11 teams all located in the Midwest. This body changed its name to the familiar National Football League (NFL) in 1921, the same year the league started to release official rankings. The early NFL was loose knit. Teams often came and went, and college football was still the dominant form of the game. However, as college football stars like Benny Friedman and Red Grange joined the professional game, pro football gained in popularity. An annual championship game was begun in 1933 and by 1934 almost every small town football team had moved to the city.

Professional football came to compete with college football for a fan base around the end of the Second World War. Games were higher scoring and faster paced, thanks to the development of the “T formation”, and the first West Coast team was established when the Cleveland Rams moved to LA. By 1950 professional football became one of America’s major sports. Television gave sports fans the opportunity to cheer for and against star players such as Paul Hornung, Johnny Unitas, and Bobby Layne. Surging popularity enabled football to expand into two leagues, but this experiment was short lived. In 1970 the AFL and NFL merged and formed two “conferences”, the American Football Conference, and the National Football Conference. Another result of this merger was the now wildly popular Super Bowl –most years rated the most watched television program in America. The year 1970 also founded another important American football institution, Monday Night Football.

Both college and professional football remain popular to this day, watched nation-wide by fans on Saturdays and Sundays respectively. Thanks to careful rule changes and additions over the years the game is now more fast-paced and less injurious to players than at any other point in its history. So popular, in fact, is American football among spectators that the game has spread across the globe to Mexico, Europe, and even Japan, where it continues to flourish and evolve.

History of Golf

Most sports historians trace golf’s origins to a type of land hockey played in Flanders in the middle ages. It is suggested that three Scotsmen fighting in a regiment allied with the French witnessed the game and took it home to Scotland where golf as we know it took root.

History of golf

For centuries golf was played by individuals wealthy enough to afford both the expensive materials and access to the desirable places to play away from commoners. To some extent golf retains this upper-class image although now it is the case that the availability of inexpensive or rental equipment as well as many publicly accessible golf courses has popularized the game like never before.

Golf Ball History

The featherie ball was invented sometime around the early 1600s. Until this time wooden balls were used. A featherie is of painted cow-hide stitched shut; containing goose feathers. This ball outperformed the wood variety and was the standard ball until the invention of the guttie in 1848. Dr. Robert Adams is the individual responsible for this inexpensive and aerodynamically superior ball.

Wound balls were the first multi-layered ball on the scene in the early twentieth century. These balls were once of a liquid or solid core wound up in rubber thread and coated with a thin shell. More advanced manufacturing techniques allowed manufacturers greater precision when designing and producing these balls. Today’s multi-layered balls employ a titanium core and a number of hybrid materials. The shell of the ball is softer these days than it was in the past. A golf ball of today will have two to four layers of synthetic material.

History of the Golf Club

Golf clubs have undergone a long evolution. In golf’s earliest days people used whatever was handy to fashion crude instruments to play. The first record of a special set of clubs comes from King James IV of Scotland, who commissioned a set in 1602. One year later the kingdom appointed its first royal club maker, William Mayne. These early golf clubs were wood, relatively fragile, and expensive to make. The first metal heads date to 1750, and in fact club makers were experimenting with a number of materials in an attempt to improve the effectiveness and durability of the clubs in a game. A new club, a ‘bulger’, was invented to cope with the new dynamics of the ‘guttie’ ball in 1848. These clubs closely resemble the woods of today.

It was sometime around 1900 when aluminum became the material of choice, and in 1902 E. Burr presented iron heads with grooved faces which increased the backspin of the ball. In 1929 clubs with metal shafts were allowed officially into the professional game. In 1939 the 14 club rule was introduced as was the convention of numbering clubs instead of giving names.

The putter was only permitted in professional golf in 1951, and the graphite shaft first made its way into the game in 1973. The most recent evolution in golf clubs is the Taylor-Made ‘metal woods’, which now supersede the ‘wooden woods’ in popularity. Today’s most expensive and sophisticated golf clubs utilize titanium heads and graphite shafts.

US Open Golf History

The US Open is an annual event presented by the United States Golf Association (USGA). There are four major men’s championships every year in golf, and this is one of them. The first US Open was on the fourth of October, 1895. Newport, Rhode Island, was the place and it was a nine-hole court. Eleven men competed, ten professionals and one amateur. Horace Rawlins, a 21 year old Englishman, was the winner. The British dominated the US Open until John J. McDermott took the prize in 1911, the first American to win this tournament.

Master Golf History

Every year in Augusta, Georgia, golf’s greatest come out to swing at the Augusta National Golf Club. The course is world famous for it hosts one of four major golf tournaments. The course was built in 1931 by Bob Jones and Clifford Roberts. To draw attention to the new course the two decided to host an annual tournament, the first of which was held in 1934 and won by Horton Smith against Craig Wood. The tournament was originally titled the ‘Augusta National Invitation Tournament’, but in 1939 it changed its name forever into The Masters.

The Masters Golf Tournament History

The Master’s tournament grabbed headlines, and despite a hiatus throughout the Second World War, has only surged in popularity and prestige throughout the past sixty years. Throughout the 1970s Americans ruled the tournament, however in 1980 Seve Ballesteros, a Spaniard, won the match. Throughout the next 17 years Europeans would win the tournament ten times.

Legend Golf

Tiger Woods made history in 1997 by becoming the youngest golfer ever to win the Masters. Four years later he took his second title; it is not incorrect to say that golf was, for a few years at least, dominated by the legend of Tiger Woods. His status as a golf legend has inspired a generation of new players.

Legend Golf Course

Golf is a game populated by legendary figures making legendary shots. From Craig Wood to Tiger Woods, and all the champions in-between, golf is a game that continues to attract people from all walks of life.

History of Hockey: Early Years

The game of Hockey has been around from the time of early civilization. Some of the reports find the earliest origin of the game 4000 years back. Field hockey was reportedly played even before the birth of Christ. Basically known as the “ball and stick” game, it was played since ancient times in places diverse as Rome, Scotland, Egypt and South America. The game was referred to in different names but the basic idea of playing the game was the same. The most apt used term was “Hockie” by the Irish. Though the term was coined centuries ago, the word found its way through to the present generation.

In the 17th and the early 18th century England, the game acquired a fiercely competitive and chaotic form. Villages would compete against their neighboring hamlets and there were nearly 100 players in one team. The game was a matter of pride and manhood; so the game acquired a dangerous form. The game would last for half a month and many players would end up injured and grievously hurt. The umpires were there but they were more of mute spectators, who would make a call only if a team asked them to.

After some years, common sense and a logical and organized approach to the game came into play with the introduction of revision of rules. The game was limited to 30 players for each team. The Eton College of England drafted some rules to bring sanity to the game. The Hockey Association was formed in the year 1875 and some of the rules chalked out were implemented. The results were quite positive and more rules like giving the umpire enough authority were soon drawn to improve the quality of the game.

History of Ice Hockey

The game of ice hockey probably evolved from the game of field hockey that was played in Northern Europe for hundreds of years. The modern version of ice-hockey finds its origins in the rules laid down by a Canadian named J G Creighton. His rules were implemented in the first game of ice hockey played in Montreal, Canada in the year 1875.

In fact, the “rink” or the playing area for ice hockey was actually used in the game called “curling” in Scotland during the 18th century. Initially there were as many as thirty players for each side and the goals were two stones frozen on one end of the ice. The rules for the game of ice hockey were drafted at McGill University in Montreal, Canada in the year 1879. Ice hockey found its way to the US in the year 1893. By the early 1900s, the sport had become prevalent in parts of Europe including the UK.

Hockey stick history

The hockey stick was introduced in the early 1800s. The first stick was created of wood with a flat blade. In the 1920s, hockey players began to tape their sticks to increase the hold and strengthen the blade. The banana curve or the bend in the blade which we see today was developed during the phase between the years 1957-1980. A certain player named Bobby Hull broke a stick at a practice match and began to play around with the “bent” stick and found to his amazement that there was far more accuracy in his shots. In the early 1980s, the sticks were formed of metals. By the turn of the 21st century, there have been three types of hockey sticks-wood, composite (reinforced wood sticks) and aluminum. The aluminum hockey sticks are most often used today because of its light weight, durable nature and replaceable blades.

Olympic hockey history

The first year that Hockey was played in the Olympics was in the year 1908. Only men were permitted to play the game. It was only in the year 1980, that women got the opportunity to play Hockey in the Olympics. Ice hockey was played in early April of 1920 as a part of the Olympic Summer Games in Antwerp, Belgium. The tournament was also famous for being the first World Hockey Championship. Canada was the clear cut winner in the championship. The first Olympic Winter Games are held in Chamonix, France, in the year 1924 with Canada winning all five games.

Canadian hockey history

Legend has it that a Canadian by the name of Pierre Lapin introduced the game of ice-hockey. He would implement a crooked stick to help him walk comfortably over the surface of the ice. This particular stick, also known as the first stick is now kept in the Hockey Hall of Fame, Toronto. He swung the stick at a piece of a frozen beaver bladder and came up with the idea of ice hockey. The bladder fell short of a small bay which was an imitation of the goal post. Soon the whole idea developed into a game of ice hockey and many people began to play the game of hockey on the snow and icy area. The then Prime Minister Stanley Park decided to form a league of talented player and offer a prize to the winning team. A tea pot was offered as the prize. The prize soon began to set a trend for future games. In 1926, the National Hockey League (NHL) emerged unquestionably as the top league in North America and took official control of the cup. The tea-pot shaped prize now known as the Stanley cup is the most coveted trophy in the world of ice-hockey.

We have seen how Hockey has emerged as a clear winner through the ages. Just like the way our civilization has developed, so has our attitude towards the game. Today also, the game has the same amount of fierceness and raw passion synonymous with its traditional approach. However the passion is also matched with a drive to play the game in the true spirit of sportsmanship and healthy competition.

The Ancient Sports

In societies that engaged in constant waring, health and strength were of the utmost importance for the young men and as the warm temperature in certain societies often dictated the wearing of a minimum of clothing, the beauty of such a body could also be of relevance, both as an aesthetic value and in imitation of the perfection of the gods. The Egyptians engaged in many sports and revered the perfect body. To the north there is evidence of sports like bull-leaping, acrobatics, wrestling, and boxing, found on relief vases, wall frescoes, seals, and in figurines in Minoan Crete . The "Boxer Vase" (right), from sixteenth century BCE Hagia Triada in Crete, has several bands of relief depicting wrestling, bull-leaping, and boxing. Leaping and somersaulting over bulls had appeared as early as 2000 BCE. Boxing also appears and the figures show a clenched fist, and sometimes wear hand-coverings or ancient boxing gloves. The four major Minoan Palaces of Knossos, Phaestos, Mallia, and Zakro contained L shaped theatres that could hold up to 500 spectators and central courts ideal for bull-leaping. The Minoans had extensive trading contact with the Egyptians and the sporting influence from Egypt may have passed to the Minoans and then to Greece. A subsequent invasion of the aggressive Dorians from the North may have eventually added the competitive spirit to the games we know of in Greece. The art of wrestling imbued with ritual and spiritualism has a tradition going back three thousand years in India and Persia. Also from India and exported into China and beyond were the martial arts. South America was rich in sporting activities, but the deadliness of certain ball games appears to be a deterrent to reviving such cultural antiquities. Ball games from the Norse civilisation is also recorded. As mentioned, Egyptian culture may have influenced the development of Greek games in terms of an appreciation for the athletic human body and the value of games as performance. The festival Games in Ancient times were conducted with the athletes being naked. No doubt it was an obvious choice as the body was honoured in those times and wrestling or running for example would be much easier without restricting clothes. Perhaps there was a spiritual significance to this as the games were often held in honour of the gods and as an element of victory celebrations or funeral ceremonies. Alexander the Great often mounted Games to rejuvenate his army, after successful and hard won battles, or to mark events such as the death of his lover Hyphastion. Also amongst the sports in many cultures, were included singing and dancing competitions. Generally such achievement was to display the divine perfection to which they aspired, which itself honoured that which was the central focus of the festival. Many still were known to simply admire the youthful beauty which could be found at the Gymnasium or in the athletic arena, so we must not get carried away by the idea that there was no sexual element or ego involved in such exhibitionism. One was expected to be admired and therefore there must be those who provide the admiration.

The most commonly admired representation of human achievement through many periods of history, including our own, is the image of the athlete. The word itself originating from 'athlos', meaning - contest. In Greece a ten member panel examined and assessed the athlete on their parentage, character and physical endowments. There are two major facets of competition in human society, one being battle and the other being the peaceful form of war i.e. sport. We may respect wisdom, scientific, musical or literary achievement, but what we most often admire is someone being physically better then someone else. We love and honour a winner, be it a decorated soldier or a medal covered athlete. However, sport has taken many turns throughout history. The Greeks participated in athletics such as running wrestling discus etc. and they also included chariot racing. The original religious significance had been lost by the fifth century BCE and it was seen as good training for warfare and also bringing prestige to the family and eventually the state. The winners were seen to possess a little of the divine in their superiority, and the statues erected to them would sometimes be considered to have miraculous capabilities. Often the sports could be very bloody as well. In the Roman times, the chariot and the gladiator appear to have provided the principal form of entertainment competition. Not until the middle ages did jousting appear, but it was the nineteenth century that saw a return to the less aggressive forms, as we once again returned to the idealised athletic struggle.

Ancient Greece

Gymnasia

As we know the gymnasia took it's name from the Greek word 'gymnos' meaning naked. This was a state run centre for training where men and boys met and practiced athletics and the youth also followed intellectual training. Three gymnasia in Athens - the Lyceum, the Academy and the Cynosarges became great schools of philosophy. The physical training was in preparation for war. The complex consisted of an open courtyard for wrestling and the like, a running track, a grand colonnade (the stoa), which could also be used for training during inclement weather and an assortment of cloak rooms, oiling rooms, baths and lecture rooms. The practice of being totally naked was peculiar to Greece and does not appear to be followed elsewhere. Training was done to the accompaniment of rhythmical music and as a high emphasis was placed on both physical strength and aesthetics, a student could be eliminated for lacking in either strength or beauty of appearance. It is known that there existed special diets to compliment the physical needs of different sports.

Palaestra

This was a much simpler and privately owned school for wrestling and gymnastics and consisted of a sand covered courtyard surrounded by changing rooms.

Athletics

Used as training in preparation for war, athletics date back to the time of Homer. Much prized in Greece and always totally nude, but less popular in Rome although the more educated classes did practice the Greek sports for leisure and relaxation. The Etruscans also followed the Greek games, but were clothed. The main forms were:-

Wrestling:- individuals challenged according to age not weight. It was the most popular sport. The contestants oiled themselves and some dusted themselves for better grip. Three falls of the shoulder or knees touching the ground designated the winner. Biting and genital holds were illegal, but breaking your opponent's fingers was permitted. It is known that Aristotle, Plato and Hypocrites were capable wrestlers.

Pancration:- a more violent form of wrestling where the opponent gave in at the point of strangulation or having a bone broken. Only biting and gouging an opponent's eyes, nose, or mouth with fingernails were banned. There were both men's and boys divisions of this sport which eventually became a highly admired.

Boxing:- A continuos match which ended in a knock-out or a raised hand of submission. They wore soft leather around the fist and knuckles and even ear guards during training, but these could inflict great damage to the opponent. A referee was armed with a stick for disciplining any offence. In gladiatorial Rome the gloves were weighted with metal or spikes. There were no weight classes within the mens' and boys' divisions, and opponents were chosen randomly.

Running:- approximately 200 metre long rectangular track with starting lines, where the competitors traversed it once for a single foot race (stade), turned and ran back for a double foot race (diaulos), or completed twelve circuits for the long distance. There was also a two to four-stadion (384 m. to 768 m.) race in armour. ( the standard hoplite armour of helmet, shield, and greaves weighed about 50-60 lbs. In the 5th century BC there were even mechanical starting gates. The actual length of the stadion was said to be stepped out by Heracles who measured the 600 lengths of his rather large foot. Some festivals included a relay race where the runners ran through the streets and passed a lighted torch. Originally the goal of the race was the great altar of Zeus.

Long Jump:- a sport which is relatively unknown and which saw the contestant carrying weights (halteres). It may also have been from a standing position.

Discus:- Much like the modern equivalent. A lead, bronze, iron or stone circular plate thrown from an upward swing of a straight arm. they weighed around 7kilos but varied for men and boys. The longest throw won.

Javelin:- Also judged on distance thrown in the best of five but it had to hit the ground with it's point. They used a thong attached to fingers and the Javelin (a mans height) which added distance and spin.

Pentathlon:- Contestants entered five events - long jump, foot race, discus throwing, javelin and wrestling.

Chariot Race:- There were two and four horse chariot races, with separate races for chariots drawn by foals. Another race was between carts drawn by two mules. The course was twelve laps around the stadium track (nine miles) or hippodrome. The Chariot race was said to have been started by King Pelops whom myth said was buried near the Temple of Zeus.

Riding:- The course was six laps with separate races for full-grown horses and foals. Riders rode naked and without stirrups. As the training, equipment, and feed of both the jockey and the horses was so expensive, the owner received the olive wreath of victory instead of the rider.

Games

Physical development was much prized in the ancient world and apart from the training in the gymnasia there were also ball games that the youth participated in and in Roman times special ball courts were built. Equestrian and boat races were popular as individual events, but the great Festival Games were by far the most popular. It may be more than coincidence that this happened along with religious events as the large crowds attracted to a religious festival provided the spectators for the athletic competitions. Any city with enough prize-money could and did mount games, where champions were given substantial monetary rewards, but at the religious festivals the prize was generally a simple wreath. One legend traces this to the Elean King Iphitos who was told by the Delphic Oracle to plant an Olive Tree from which the victors' wreaths for the Olympic Games were cut. Alternately Pindar records that it was Heracles who brought the wild olive from the Hyperborean countries. However apart from the official honour the home town of a winner would often shower him with gifts as it had brought them such prestige. Olympic winners paid no tax, were fed free for life and much was to be gained from becoming a hero.

The main circuit of panhellenic festivals were:-

The Olympian games in honour of Zeus in Olympia began in 776BC at which the only event may have been the stadion foot race. They continued until around 256AD but were officially banned in 391AD by the Christian Emperor Theodosius. They were held every four years, which became a dating system and lasted for five days with a truce being initiated for a period both before and after the contest. The athletic events were held in the stadium, except wrestling which may have been contested around the altar of Zeus. The straight track of the stadium was surrounded on three sides by a grass mound on which up to 45,000 spectators could sit or stand. The hippodrome was where the various horse, colt, donkey cart and chariot races were held as each came to or fell from favour. The prize was a wreath from a sacred olive tree believed to have been planted by Heracles.

The Pythian games were held at Delphi in honour of Apollo in conjunction with a musical contest in honour of the god. These were held in the third Olympic year. The prize was a laurel wreath cut from the valley of Tempe.

The Isthmian games on the Isthmus of Corinth in honour of Poseidon were celebrated during the first and third Olympic year. The prize was a wreath of dry wild celery or pine branches. Some say they were founded by Theseus but the came into existence around 580.

The Nemean games were held in the sanctuary of Zeus at Nemea and were said to have been founded by Heracles or the Seven against Thebes. Begun around 573 and held in the second and fourth Olympic year. The prize was a crown of fresh wild celery.

The Greek states and others were in a constant state of war over even the most minor causes, but for the Olympic festival, held every four years, a truce or 'ekecheiria', which means 'holding of hands' was announced before and during the games. Messengers were sent out as far away as France and to the Baltic Sea. This armistice (eventually deified) allowed visitors and competitors to travel safely to Olympia. A bronze inscription describing the truce was displayed at Olympia. Wars were suspended, armies were prohibited from entering Elis or threatening the Games, and legal disputes and the carrying out of death penalties were forbidden. Elis had restarted the Games after a visit to the oracle at Delphi, and the city itself, just north of Olympia acted as the Olympic village prior to the Games, but for the competition itself all travelled to the sanctuary of Olympia which contained the great temple of Zeus and also a temple to his wife Hera. (The athletes entrance to the stadium at left and the stadium itself at right with the starting block visible.) Here the elite were housed in a huge Guest House while most slept out in the open. The athletes themselves were more often than not soldiers and even though we are used to thinking of the games in our terms as a time of idealism and peace, some events like the pancration and boxing could end in death. Violent as these two events were there were strict rules which forbad cheating as well as bringing hatred to the competition.

The most common myth surrounding the origin of the Olympic Games was that of Pelops, a prince from Lydia in Asia Minor who wished to marry the daughter of King Oinomaos. To do so any suitor must compete against the King in a Chariot race and if he lost he would be beheaded. Pelops replaced a pin with wax in the chariot of the King who was then killed. Pelops married Hippodamia and founded the Olympic games to celebrate his victory. A different version says they were funeral games in the memory of Oinomaos. The Delphi Charioteer right and if you ever get the chance to see it up close you will be stunned to see the fine eyelashes on the statue - left. Another myth comes from the Tenth Olympian Ode (one of may variations) of the poet Pindar who tells how in his fifth labour, Herakles had to clean the stables of King Augeas of Elis. After disagreements, broken promises etc. Herakles sacked the city of Elis and instituted the Olympic Games in honour of his father, Zeus. He is said to have taught men how to wrestle and measured or stepped out the stade (originally 192 metres), or the length of the stadium and the first footrace which he is said to have run in a single breath.

The Olympic Games

The Strong son of Zeus' drove the whole of his host

And all his booty to Pisa,

And measured a holy place

For his mighty Father.

He fenced the Altis and marked it off

In a clean space, and the ground encircling it

He set for rest at supper

In honour of the ford of Alpheos

And the twelve Kings of the Gods.

To Kronos' Hill he gave a name: for before

It was nameless when Oinomaos ruled,

And drenched with many a snowstorm.

In this first birthday-rite

The Fates stood near at hand,

And he who alone proves the very truth,

Time. In his forward march

He has revealed all clearly:

How Herakles portioned the booty, war gift,

Made sacrifice and founded

The fourth year's feast

With the first Olympiad

And the winning of victories.

Pindar 518 - 438 BC who wrote Odes for the 4 great festivals

A rather uncharitable and warning Ode for Aristomenes of Aegina who was the winner of the boy's wrestling at the Pythian games

And now four times you came dawn with bodies beneath you

(You meant them harm)

To whom the Pythian feast has given

No glad home-coming like yours.

They, when they meet their mothers,

Have no sweet laughter around them moving delight.

In back streets; disaster has bitten them.

But who, in his tender years,

Finds some new lovely thing,

His hope is high, and he flies

On wings of his manhood:

Better than riches are his thoughts.

- But man's pleasure is a short time growing

And it falls to the ground

As quickly, when an unlucky twist of thought

Loosens its roots.

Man's life is a day. What is he?

What is he not? A shadow in a dream

Is man: but when God sheds a brightness,

Shining life is on earth


Other Games Comments

Today we like to think that our athletic heroes are there solely because of their talent, which has to be considerable, but it is certainly true that an attractive sportsman is seen, heard and sponsored more often then a talented fellow competitor who has not been blessed by the Graces. Perhaps this is where we are at fault in an ideal or 'correct' world, but has not millions of years of evolution guided us towards seeking out the best looking and the strongest as our way of genetically modifying every species towards what we consider perfection. Once again I have to acknowledge the balance to this argument, that the mind or soul is the twin that must also be satisfied, but does not the soul shine more brightly from the eyes of a good man and thus is beauty revealed. A fleeting blossoming of youth can soon be eroded by a mind not nourished by ideals higher than a simple and narrow need to better an opponent.

Aristotle believed that when boys trained too young, it sapped them of their strength. He believed that the first three years after puberty should be spent on study before he began athletic exertions, because physical and intellectual development could not occur at the same time.

American painter Thomas Eakins, friend and neighbour of Walt Whitman photographed his art students wrestling in 1883. Photos of nudes were used as the basis for his paintings to convey the Greek ideal of friendship and male beauty. This was a theme taken up by many early photographers. Strength, exertion, movement and musculature to reveal an ideal as they saw it.

The Ancient Egyptians, also participated in many sports with rules, referees, uniforms and winners receiving special collars. It is believed they participated in wrestling, boxing, weightlifting, long jump, stick-fighting, swimming, rowing, shooting, fishing and athletics, as well as various ball games. The Pharaoh and nobles were patrons of such competitions.

In many Egyptian tombs, paintings and glyphs depicting sports events have been found. Particularly acrobatics, hop and jump, ball games, and wrestling. However acrobats, usually women and boys, were mainly viewed as performers. Wrestling in loin-cloths was practiced mainly as part of Egyptian military training, but there are 200 wrestling groups depicted in a tomb at Beni-Hassan. It was certainly competitive for the pair involved. There were also various running activities. On the King’s"jubilee celebration," he would run alone between two sets of three cosmic semicircles and at the pyramid complex of Djoser are the ruins of the world's first running track. Hard evidence appears of two other activities, archery and chariot riding, with bows and chariots being found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. Actual chariot races may not have existed, but been rather the honour of perfecting the art of driving a chariot.

Rugby World Cup History

How it all began

The IRB held their annual board meeting on 20-21st March 1985 at the French Railways HQ in Paris. Each member nation had a single vote and the motion was carried 6 (Australia, England, France, New Zealand, South Africa, Wales) to 2 (Ireland and Scotland). It would be staged jointly by Australia and New Zealand from the 22nd May to the 20th June 1987. This gave the two host nations approx. two years to prepare.

Two companies in the early 80s approached the IRFB. West Nally, a British company and IMG a trans-continental company with its base in the USA. Both proposals were rejected.

In 1983 Gideon Lloyd International and Neil Durden-Smith who were both involved in sports promotion and public relations in London also made a proposal but once again the idea was turned down.

At that time the Rugby Unions were fighting a losing battle against professionalism and a RWC was seen as a step in the wrong direction.

Late 1983 the Australian Rugby Union and New Zealand Rugby Football Union submitted written proposals to the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB). Neither was aware of the other's proposal with Australia wanting to stage a tournament to coincide with their Bicentenary in 1988 and New Zealand proposing the previous year. Both proposals were turned down but Australian, Sir Nicholas Shehadie talked to Seb Blaze in New Zealand and suggested they pool resources so that’s what they did, they worked together on a feasibility study for the first world cup, to be presented at the IRFB's annual meeting in March 1985.

The two Unions settled on 1987 as the year, thereby avoiding any clash with the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup, and a vote was held on the proposal at the IRFB meeting in the French capital Paris.

The vote between the eight IRFB members - Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, France, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales - came down in favour of a Rugby World Cup by six votes to two. For the world cup were Australia, England, France, New Zealand, Wales (after being persuaded by their treasurer) and South Africa even though they knew they would not be allowed to play in the tournament due to their political situation (apartheid regime). Ireland and Scotland were against the proposal as it appeared to threaten the amateur status of the sport, while France were in favour only if countries from outside the IRFB were invited to take part.

The decision was a massive one. It ensured that a tournament - there were no plans for a second at that stage - would be run by the world body and not businessmen and television companies interested in simply making money.

This green light left little more than two years to lay the foundations of a tournament, which finally provided the vehicle to establish a 'world champion' and would be held in New Zealand with Australia as co-hosts.

Argentina were invited to take South Africa's place with other invitations extended to Fiji, Tonga, Japan, Canada, Romania, Zimbabwe, Italy and the United States for the 16-team tournament to be held in May and June 1987.

The 16 teams were split into four pools of four, three of which were based in New Zealand with the other, featuring Australia, hosted in Sydney and Brisbane. The top two nations in each pool would progress to the quarter finals.

The All Blacks were expected to win the tournament and had the chance to prove they were the dominant force in world rugby. Before the tournament started the All blacks were told by Brian Lahore their coach that they were playing for 100 years of New Zealand rugby playing tradition, because they had been world champions without the cup to prove it. – Better not lose.

The inaugural match between New Zealand and Italy took place on 22 May at Eden Park in Auckland. Before the game the all blacks performed the ha ka for the first time on home soil and in the opening game against Italy John Kirwan of New Zealand scored one of the best tries ever scored in the RWC. The hosts won the game easily 70-6 and one which went a long way to uniting a country divided by the Cavaliers' tour of South Africa in April 1986.

New Zealand won through to the semi finals against Wales after brushing Scotland aside, Wales went the same way and New Zealand were in the first World cup final.

The other semi-final was Aus vs. France and this proved to be a very exciting game since France just kept attacking and attacking. But Australia kept coming back. France pulled off the win in the final minutes with a Serge Blanco try.

The All blacks then won the final 29-9 at Eden Park and although France were well beaten they consoled themselves with the knowledge that it was a story book finish for New Zealand who’s status in world rugby had finally been realized.

That inaugural tournament saw 600,000 people pass through the turnstiles with 300 million in 17 countries watching the action on television, figures that would increase to 1.75 million and three billion in 140 countries respectively for the 1999 event.

The Rugby World Cup is now established as the third biggest sporting event behind the Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup, having achieved its goal of merging the traditional powers with new and emerging nations to make Rugby a truly global sport.

One person who played a key role in this journey was the late Vernon Pugh QC, the International Rugby Board and Rugby World Cup Ltd Chairman. Pugh's energy and vision was instrumental in expanding of the governing body to include 94 full members and in building the profile of the sport's showpiece event.

It may also interest you to know that Rugby League's World Cup was first held in 1954.

The first Rugby League World Cup was held in France in 1954. The prime motivators behind the idea of holding rugby league world cup were the French, who were short of money following the seizing of their assets by the rugby union in World War II. They had campaigned for it since 1935. In January 1952 the idea gained momentum. At a meeting held in Blackpool, England, November 1953, the International Board accepted Paul Barrie’s proposal that France should be the nation to host the inaugural Rugby League World Cup.

The World Cup was initially contested by the four Test nations: Australia, Great Britain, France and New Zealand). The teams played each other in a league format.

A group stage was held first, with Great Britain topping the table as a result of points difference. They went on to defeat France (who finished second in the table, level on points) in the final, which was held at the Charlety Stadium, Paris, in front of around 30,000 spectators.

Group stages

October 30: France 22 - 13 New Zealand (Paris)
October 31: Australia 13 - 28 Great Britain (Lyon)
November 7: France 13 - 13 Great Britain (Toulouse)
November 7: Australia 34 - 15 New Zealand (Marseilles)
November 11: Great Britain 26 - 6 New Zealand (Bordeaux)
November 11: France 15 - 5 Australia (Nantes)

League standings

Team Played W D L For Against Diff Pts
Great Britain 3 2 1 0 67 32 35 5
France 3 2 1 0 50 31 19 5
Australia 3 1 0 2 52 58 -6 2
New Zealand 3 0 0 3 34 82 -48 0

Final

November 13: France 12 - 16 Great Britain (Charlety Stadium, Paris)


The second World Cup in Australia in 1957. Australia proved victorious on their home ground after ending up top opf the ladder.

After the successful 1960 competition, in which Great Britain won the title for the second time, there would be no further World Cup for 8 years. The competition had be scheduled to be held in France in 1965, but after an unsuccessful tour of Australia, the French withdrew. The tournament was next held in 1968, and followed a 2 year cycle until the mid-1970s. The 1972 World Cup final ended in a 10-all draw, and the title was awarded to Great Britain by virtue of their superior record in the qualifiers.

In 1975 the competition underwent its most radical overhaul to date. It was decided to play matches on a home and away basis around the world, instead of in any one host nation. Furthermore, the Great Britain team was spilt into England and Wales. Australia won that tournament, and in 1977 it was decided that Great Britain should once more compete as a single entity. Although the final between Australia and Great Britain was a closely fought affair, public interest in the tournament waned due to the continuing tinkering with the format, and it would not be held again until the mid-1980s.

From 1985 to 1988, each nation played each other a number of times on a home and away basis. At the end of that period Australia met New Zealand at Eden Park. The match was a physical encounter, and Australian captain Wally Lewis played part of the match with a broken arm. The Kangaroos won the competition 25-12. This format was repeated from 1989-1992, and Australia defeated Great Britain 10-6 at Wembley Stadium in front of 72,000 people. This crowd remains a rugby league World Cup record.

In 1995 the competition was once again restructured, and the largest number of teams to date, 10, entered. New teams competing included Fiji, Tonga Samoa and South Africa. The tournament, which was also held to celebrate the centenary of the sport in England, was highly successful with over 250,000 people attending the group stages and over 66,000 people attending the final to see Australia defeat England 16-8 in the final.

The 2000 world cup expanded the field further, with 16 teams entering. Blown out scorelines ensured that this tournament was not as successful as the previous one. Ten teams are to compete in the next World Cup in Australia in 2008. It has also been announced that a further tournament will be held in Great Britain in 2012


1954 World Cup Champions - Great Britain
Great Britain defeated France 16-12 in the first ever 'Rugby' World Cup Final, played in Paris. The 1954 World Cup was played in France.

1957 World Cup Champions - Australia
Australia won by virtue of being at the top of the ladder. Followed games in Sydney and Brisbane, Australia defeating New Zealand 25-5, Great Britain 31-6 and France 26-9.

1960 World Cup Champions - Great Britain
Great Britain won by virtue of being at the top of the ladder. Great Britain defeated Australia 10-3 at Odsal Stadium in England. Both Great Britain and Australia were undefeated coming into the match.

1968 World Cup Champions - Australia
Australia defeated France 20-2 in the World Cup Final in Sydney. The 1968 World Cup was played in Australia and New Zealand.

1970 World Cup Champions - Australia
Australia defeated Great Britain 12-7 in the World Cup Final in Leeds. The 1970 World Cup was played in England.

1972 World Cup Champions - Great Britain
Great Britain and Australia played a 10-all draw in Lyon, France. Great Britain were declared World Cup winners by virtue of being undefeated.

1975 World Cup Champions - Australia
Australia won by virtue of being at the top of the ladder, one point ahead of England. The 1975 World Cup was played in Australia, New Zealand, England, Wales and France and was spread over the entire year. Great Britain was divided into the two home nations of England and Wales.

1977 World Cup Champions - Australia
Australia defeated Great Britain 13-12 in the World Cup Final in Sydney. The 1977 World Cup was played in Australia and New Zealand.

1985-1988 World Cup Champions - Australia
Australia defeated New Zealand 25-12 in the World Cup Final in Auckland. Played internationally over four seasons, the ninth World Cup tournament saw the introduction of Papua-New Guinea.

1989-1992 World Cup Champions - Australia
Australia defeated Great Britain 10-6 in the World Cup Final in front of 76,631 people at Wembley Stadium in London.

1995 World Cup Champions - Australia
Australia defeated England 16-8 in the World Cup Final in London. The 1995 World Cup, played in England, saw the introduction of more rugby league nations as well Great Britain being divided into home nations. The Australian Rugby League announced that matches played by the Kangaroos would be given ARL Test match status.

2000 World Cup Champions - Australia
Australia defeated New Zealand 40-12 in the World Cup Final in Manchester. The 2000 World Cup was played in Great Britain and France. Great Britain was divided itself into four home nations. A number of new teams were introduced including NZ Maori and Cook Is. in addition to Lebanon, Russia, Fiji and South Africa.

The next Rugby League World Cup is scheduled for 2008.

The IRB Rugby World Cup (RWC) is now one of the the world's top three sporting competitions(the Olympics and the World Cup of Soccer being the other two).

World Cup Finals

Venue Result Captain Coach Referee
1987 Eden Park
New Zealand 29
France 9
David Kirk Brian Lochore Kerry Fitzgerald (Aust)
1991 Twickenham
Australia 12
England 6
Nick
Farr-Jones
Bob Dwyer Derek Bevan (Wales)
1995 Ellis Park
South Africa 15
New Zealand 12
Francois Pienaar Kitch Christie Ed Morrison (England)
1999 Millenium Stadium
Australia 35
France 12
John Eales Rod Macqueen Andre Watson (South Africa)
2003Telstra Stadium
Australia 17
England 20
Martin Johnson Clive Woodward Andre Watson (South Africa)
2007 Stade de France
South Africa 15
England 6
John Smit Jake White Alain Rolland (Ireland)

Growth of the Rugby World Cup

Year Match Attendance World
Television Audience
Gross Commercial Income Net
Surplus
1987 600,000 300 million £3.3 million £1.0 million
1991 1 million 1.75 billion £23.6 million £4.1 million
1995 1 million 2.67 billion £30.3 million £17.6 million
1999 1.75 million 3.1 billion £70 million £47.3 million
2003 1.8 million 3.4 billion £81.8 million £64.3 million
2007 2.2 million 4.2 billion £122.4 million

The Famous Whistle

The first game of every world cup to date has been started by the same whistle. The whistle is nearly 100 years old and bears an inscription saying it was used by Gil Evans in the Test match between New Zealand and England in December 1905, a match the All Blacks won 15-0.

This piece of rugby history is also believed to have been used by Albert E. Freethy in the final of the 1924 Olympics in Paris when the United States beat hosts France 17-13 at the Colombes Stadium - the last time the sport of rugby union featured in the Games.

A year later Freethy blew the whistle to dismiss Cyril Brownlie in the Test between New Zealand and England at Twickenham in January 1925, making him the first player to be sent off in an international match.

The whistle has been housed in the New Zealand Rugby Museum in Palmerston North since 16 April 1969 when they held their inaugural function, having been given by Stan Dean, who for many years was the chairman of the NZRFU and manager of the 1924/25 All Blacks.