Sports Things I Don't Understand

Sports are generally pretty easy to understand. Ball in hoop/puck in net/dude crossing home plate/etc. = points. Athlete/team with most points wins. Or, even easier, athlete/team that crosses line first wins. Simple! Which is why, when the sports world ceases to make sense, it boggles my mind almost more than the thing that doesn't make sense.

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+ The National Baseball Hall of Fame's rules. Every year when voting rolls around, I'm reminded how strange the whole system is. Players are voted on by the baseball writers and must be on at least 75% of ballots to be inducted. Players are on the ballot for 15 years, at which point, if they aren't voted in, they're removed from the ballot. If a player, at any point, receives fewer than 5% of votes, they're removed from the ballot. All of this makes me wish I'd paid better attention in calculus.

Also, if you want to talk about bogus, this year Craig Biggio received votes from 74.8% of writers and wasn't voted in. He was short TWO VOTES! Come on, you can't round up from 74.8 to 75?! What. the. heck? I don't even particularly care about Biggio, but this is ridiculous.

But then -- then! -- there's also the Veterans Committee, that "provides an opportunity for Hall of Fame enshrinement to all individuals who are eligible for induction but ineligible for consideration by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA)." Checks and balances? What is this, a federal government?

So basically, if the planets are aligned perfectly and there's a solar eclipse and the vote occurs on the third Thursday of the month and you squint and tilt your head a little bit... you have a chance at getting into the hall of fame! Congrats!

+Lithuania's Olympic basketball uniforms in Barcelona 1992. I knew nothing about this until last week, and guys, I'm wondering how this gem has managed to slip through the cracks of history. In 1992, Lithuania was newly separated from the Soviet Union and just about as broke as I am. So they hooked up with a new sponsor: The Grateful Dead. The band. And please, feast your eyes on the glorious product that resulted.

Let's take another look.

How 'bout a close-up on that bad boy?

Lithuania won bronze in 1992, and wore these beauties on the medal podium. At the Olympics. How is this real? But the better question is how is this so awesome?

+"Downs" in football. I don't understand a lot about football, namely why anyone would want to play a sport that will almost definitely lead to ridiculous brain damage, but my issue today lies with downs. More specifically, the use of the word "down." It's all well and good to get four chances to make it a certain number of yards... but why in the whole wide world of vocabulary would someone decide that a team gets four downs to get a first down? Could we, like, maybe pick different words to describe different things? Or does that just make too much sense?

+People think poker is a sport. Seriously. I just... how? It's a game. And I'm sure it's entertaining, if you like that sort of thing, but...

Unless you're saying "the men sported at the poker table" (in which case, god bless), "poker" and "sport" don't really belong together.

+People don't think curling is a sport. Unless you've tried it, you don't know. I went curling once, and...

...that's what my knee looked like afterward. Those bruises remained for about a month and a half. The people you watch curling on TV during the Olympics do it so effortlessly that they sort of make you forget that the surface they're playing on is, uh, ice. So don't hate on curling, 'cause it is difficult and most definitely involves both physical exertion AND skill. (And if you plan on attending a "learn to curl" session in the future, bring kneepads. You're welcome.)

So tell me, readers: is there anything about the sports world that YOU don't understand? Let's be hopelessly confused together.

Venus Trapped in Mars
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  1. I've always wanted to go curling, but that looks painful!!

  2. Those uniforms are spectacular, OMG. And while I can't explain why the word "downs" is a thing, I will admit it took me years to understand them.

  3. I am equally so mad about the baseball hall of fame!! 1. The whole voting process is super subjective. 2. Math, people, round up! 3. Craig Biggio is amazing. 4. This summer I actually will be close enough to the hall to attend the ceremonies - but only if Biggio was there...Oh well... At least games start up soon :)