Top 10 Fascinating Skydiving Myths

Skydiving is the single most exciting sport there is. Nothing even comes close to the exhilaration you feel when floating on a cushion of air, and flying your canopy safely to the ground. It’s also very misunderstood, and filled with many common fallacies and misconceptions that keep most people from trying this beautiful sport. It’s heavily regulated by national organizations and in comparison to past decades and studying statistics, it’s surprisingly safe! To participate in it regularly, you’re required to obtain sufficient training and a license. It can be a long, expensive process to get your license, but once you do, the feeling of accomplishment is like no other. I highly suggest you try it at least once in your life.


Skydiving Myth: Skydivers pull a rip cord

Actually, rip cords pretty much went out with the round chute back in the early 1980’s. Skydivers using modern day “rigs” (the entire contraption of harness, container and canopies), throw out a pilot chute which is tucked into a pocket on the bottom of the container, just above your butt. The pilot chute is a small parachute attached to a “bridle” which is attached to the main chute. As the pilot chute is deployed, it catches the wind and pulls the closing pin which releases the packed main chute, pulling it from the container, so it will inflate… we hope. You can find a more detailed description of this process here.

There are some dropzones who still use rip-cord gear when teaching their students. Once they’re properly trained however, they graduate to the common bottom of container design. A reserve deployment does use a rip cord to activate the chute, but this is an entirely different design and we hope we never have to pull that handle.


Skydiving Myth: You can talk or yell to each other during freefall

Despite what you’ve seen in movies like Point Break and Cutaway, you cannot hear another skydiver during freefall. Perhaps if you were to yell into his year, you may hear a little but you certainly can’t have any type of conversation. The wind traveling past your ears at well over 100mph pretty much makes you deaf to all sounds. Additionally, it would be very hard to fight during freefall as well.

Skydiving Myth: When you deploy your chute, you go back up.

This is a common fallacy. One thing a skydiver cannot do is go back up. What you’re seeing when a skydiver deploys and goes up is an optical illusion. You’re actually seeing the videographer shooting the skydiver continue falling away from the one deploying who is obviously slowing down. By the way, that’s me you see deploying!


Skydiving Myth: If you’re ever knocked unconscious in free fall, you’re dead

Another common fallacy; it’s understandable how this could be perceived however. Think about it… if you’re ever knocked out by a mid-air collision with a fellow skydiver, who’s going to deploy your chute? Well, most skydivers jump with a device known as an Automatic Activation Device (AAD). It’s a small, air-pressure and speed sensitive unit that will cut the closing loop of your reserve chute so that it deploys automatically. They are usually set so that if you drop below 750 feet above ground level at over 78mph, it goes off. If you are unconscious, your landing will likely be rough and you may injure yourself or perhaps still die, but landing without any chute at all would be far worse. Some skydivers choose to jump without one because they are a mechanical device that can fail and possibly misfire, although they rarely do. The odds of it working when needed far outweigh the odds of it malfunctioning and deploying your reserve when you don’t want it to. You can read more about how these amazing units work here.


Skydiving Myth: Everyone falls at the same speed.

Despite what some people think, everyone falls at a different rate and the speeds will vary depending on weight (heavier people fall faster), body position and clothing (baggy jumpsuits slow you down, tight fitting suits go faster). The average terminal velocity in the belly down position is around 120mph. Some of the more advanced freeflying positions like “Head Down” or “Sit Fly” can push a jumper to over 200mph! Essentially the less amount of surface area to the wind, the faster you go. It takes a lot of work to contort the body in an arch (to speed up) and cup (to slow down) in order to catch up and stay with a group.

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Skydiving Myth: A skydiver always packs his own chute

A good skydiver learns to pack his own chute early on in his/her skydiving career and continues to do so. However, there is no legal obligation to pack your own chute. There are trained packers who work at drop zones and will pack your chute for you. Generally the cost is around 5 to 7 dollars per pack. Many skydivers however, choose to stick to packing their own chutes because they know how they like it packed (there are small variations for smoother openings) and ultimately, who are you going to trust with your life? Yourself or some kid working the summer for 6 bucks a pack? If you choose to use the packer, be sure to tip them well!!


Skydiving Myth: You can deploy your chute at any altitude

I had an argument with a friend who was reading about military HALO operations, (High Altitude, Low Opening) and insisted that these military skydivers would freefall all the way down to between 100 and 50 feet then deploy their chute and land safely, this of course, is simply not possible. Freefall speeds can be anywhere from 100 to 160mph depending on varying scenarios; that’s over 170 feet per second! A good main parachute needs about 600 to 800 feet to open for two reasons. First, it needs to inflate. The cells are closed end and a great deal of air needs to fill the cells before the chute is operational. Second, it needs to opens fairly slowly to keep from injuring or even killing the skydiver. A hard opening chute can kill a person when they go from 120mph to 18mph in only two or three seconds. Hard openings are usually a result of packing error. Fatal hard openings are extremely rare but a ‘normal’ hard opening can make you see stars, and bruises! Minimum opening altitudes (as regulated by the USPA and CSPA) are 2500feet for A licensed skydivers and 2200feet for B, C, and D. Reserve chutes are designed to open much faster due to their necessity to do so quickly. [Image Source]


Skydiving Myth: You need to wear oxygen masks at very high altitudes

Only on the plane. Hypoxia can set in quickly at 18,000feet, so it’s necessary for planes to supply it when climbing to that altitude and beyond. The most common high altitude jumps are between 10,500 and 14,000 feet. Some larger drop zones with larger planes, will offer special “extra-high” jumps of 22,000 feet. This of course costs “extra-cash”. Some fancier planes offer masks, but more often it consists of a small hose coming out of the ceiling of the plane and you simply put it in your mouth up until you jump. Once you’re out, you’re only at that altitude for a short time, so extra oxygen on the jump itself isn’t necessary.

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Skydiving Myth: The higher the altitude, the more dangerous the jump.

Actually it’s the opposite. Skydivers want as much altitude as possible. Not just for the extra freefall time, but also it gives us extra time correct a correctable problem that may arise. It takes about 1480 feet to reach terminal velocity (around 120mph). Whether it’s a 1500 foot fall or 15,000 foot fall, having a bad chute or no chute at all – the outcome is not going to be good. Ultimately, there is no “safer” altitude for a high speed impact. And considering the 600 to 800 feet it takes for a chute to open, I’ll stay above 3000 feet when I jump, anything lower would just be crazy!


Skydiving Myth: It’s possible to survive a terminal velocity impact

Everyone has heard the story: A skydiver jumped from 15,000 feet, his chute didn’t open and he landed in a muddy field and only broke his leg, or his back, or only ended up in a wheelchair, but he survived! There’s always something wrong with the story however. Many times it’s completely made up. But in almost all these cases, there was “something” out, meaning there was a tangled mess of a chute (malfunction) or both chutes (double malfunction – extremely rare!) trailing behind the jumper. This can slow your descent down considerably. An impact into soft ground or trees at 45mph is certainly survivable. You won’t enjoy it, but you have a better chance of survival.

Contributor: Skydiver

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Top 10 Martial Arts From Outside The Orient

When someone says “Martial Arts,” it conjures images of ancient Chinese warriors locked in combat or Samurai and Ninjas fighting it out in a bamboo forest. While it’s true the most popular martial arts originate from either Japan, China or elsewhere in Asia there are many forms of martial combat from other parts of the world. Here’s a list of ten of the coolest.

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The Scots have been known as fierce fighters, but few would compare Jackie Chan and William Wallace even though most scotsmen had a good amount of martial arts training. Highland wrestling is the first kind of fighting taught to young Scots, often family techniques are handed down from father to son. It’s recorded that often English knights would be caught off guard by the skill of an unarmed Scotsman who could drag fully armored knights off their horses with ease. Highland wrestling is mainly used today by reenactment societies, and “living Historians” since many of the actual techniques are lost to history.

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The ancient Greek Olympics were brutal in general, but the most brutal of the events was the Pankration, which roughly translates to “Anything goes”. This fierce combination of boxing and wrestling allowed almost anything, from groin punches, to eye gouges, even finger breaking. The intention of all the Olympic games was to keep every man in the city ready to serve in the military, and the art of the Pankration came in mighty handy when fending off the barbarian hordes. Today, the Greeks still practice Pankration as a sport and the techniques developed thousands of years ago still make it into Mixed martial arts events.


Swordsmanship in western Europe during the 14th and 15th centuries was an important skill for any young man to have, as most gentlemen of noble upbringing carried their rapiers around at all times and were prone to calling for a duel at the drop of a hat. European Fencing is a surprisingly sophisticated and complex fighting art, producing literally thousands of manuals and guides printed all over Europe. Fencers were known for precision strikes, delicate footwork and full body control on par with any Samurai. Each country and region in Europe had a distinctive style, as well as a different style for a number of swords.

Apache Chieff Geronimo (Right) And His Warriors In 1886

The Apaches mastered the use of many weapons for attacks against settlers or other Native American Rivals, and while many of those weapons were terrible to face, the Apaches were deadliest with little more than a knife. Every Apache had at least one knife at all times as that they were useful for any number of things in a hunter/gatherer society, but in battle Apaches would carry as many as a dozen knives on their person. They could throw them with fearsome accuracy, or cut down men with close, surgical strikes to the chest, throat or Achilles tendons. Currently the US military employs several trainers of Apache ancestry to teach special forces troops survival and knife fighting. It is no wonder navy SEALS are considered the best Knife fighters in the world.


Sambo is a relatively modern martial art, combat sport and self-defense system developed in the Soviet Union and recognized as an official sport by the USSR All-Union Sports Committee in 1938, presented by Anatoly Kharlampiev. There are three generally recognized competitive sport variations of Sambo: Sport Sambo, which is stylistically similar to amateur wrestling or judo; Combat Sambo which was utilized and developed for the military and resembles modern mixed martial arts, including extensive forms of striking and grappling; and Freestyle Sambo which uses a uniquely American set of competitive Sambo rules created by the American Sambo Association.


The bedrock of the Zulu’s legendary fighting skill is the art of stick fighting in which two Zulus armed with fresh cut saplings attack each other with only a small hide shield to defend themselves. While the sticks don’t cause a lot of damage to the body aside from shallow cuts, being whacked with one is extremely painful and in a fight you are guaranteed to get whacked a number of times. Combat with the sticks help the Zulus shrug off pain and fear, which is the reason they could charge straight into British gunfire without flinching. Famous South African leader Nelson Mandela stated he participated in stick fighting as a child.

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This deadly fighting art from Israel had it’s origins on the streets, developed by Jewish vigilantes who defended their neighborhoods from anti-Jewish gangs. Krav Maga differs from most martial arts in being focused on ending a fight as quickly as possible by using “Overwhelming Force”, making Krav Maga techniques some of the most downright lethal of any martial art. Today it is considered a martial art reserved for Military and police use, and is utilized by US Special Forces and the FBI.


Many falsely identify Jeet Kune Do as an Eastern Martial art, but in truth it was developed in America, by Bruce Lee (An American Citizen) because he admired the simplicity of Western fighting styles Like Boxing and wrestling. Tired of the overly complex methods of Kung fu, Bruce Lee stripped combat down to it’s most basic elements when he developed Jeet Kune Do, teaching that the most important move is the one that wins the fight. Many celebrity friends of Lee practiced the Art, like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, John Saxon, Jim Kelly and Steve McQueen.


Developed in France during the 19th century, Savate was developed by street fighters who used to put on their old heavy boots and try to kick each other in the head, in fact the word “Savate” is an old slang term for an old shoe. Savate moved from the street into boxing schools and is still a popular form of unarmed competitive fighting in France, known for brutal kicks to the head and face meant to down a man in one blow. Savate schools have also started teaching weapon styles. Typical of a martial art that originated in street fighting these weapons include walking canes, short knives and strangely enough: the wooden chair.

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A combination of Combat and dance, Capoeira is possibly one of the most beautiful fighting styles to watch. Capoeira started in Brazil with African and Native American slaves who taught themselves to fight with only their feet while their hands were shackled. After slavery was abolished, the Emperor of Brazil deemed Capoeira techniques too dangerous for freed slaves and forbade its practice. The Capoeria community then began to disguise training matches as “Games” and set them to music to look like a dance. To this day Capoeira matches are always set to music and look like a highly acrobatic dance but Capoeira involves many impressive kicks, throws and take downs that can be quite useful in a real fight.

Honorable Mention: Mau r?kau, Kaparjutsu, Gilma, Dambe, Gouren and Bandou

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Top 10 World Cup Goals

The football World Cup is second only to the Olympics as the biggest tournament in the world. In the past, it has showcased such players of the caliber of Baggio, Pele and Maradona and rarely have they disappointed, all three scoring some memorable goals. This list is ten of the best goals in world cup tournaments. The list has tried to include long-range shots and team goals as well as the more spectacular solo efforts.

1. Roberto Baggio. Italy Vs Czech Republic – 1990

This clip from the Italia world cup in 1990 does not quite do the brilliance of Baggio’s goal justice. Though it still looks good. His dummy just before he scores is perfection. Taking two defenders (watch how the closest defender almost spins right around in confusion) and the goalkeeper out of the equation he presents himself with an open goal. He could not miss.

2. Michael Owen. England Vs Argentina – 1998

England undeservedly lost this game on penalties, but is remembered for 18 year old, Michael Owen’s goal. Flicks on Beckham’s pass and then beats the entire Argentinan defense for pace before finishing beautifully.

It is a shame he has never quite lived up to this moment. Still a very good player, but for the injuries he could have been great.

3. Diego Maradona. England Vs Argentina – 1986

Nowadays England and Argentina have a massive football rivalry and this is where it started. Unfortunately, you cannot see his brilliant second goal without watching his handball for the second (There would be no controversy if Shilton went to catch it. Hand or no hand the goalkeeper is still twice the size of Maradona.), but we can forgive him that because he is the best player the game has ever seen. Argentina went on to win this game and the world cup.

The best thing about the second goal is how he turns the English defender at halfway and then sets off with a pace and confidence of a man who thinks he is certain to score. Moreover, he still had 5 players to beat.

Diego Maradona also scored a great solo goal against Belgium in the same world cup that is almost as good.

4. Al Owairan. Saudi Arabia vs. Belgium – 1994

The best goal from USA 1994. This strike won the Saudis the game and took them through to the second round for the first time.

5. Carlos Albertos. Brazil Vs Italy – 1970

Here the Brazilians score a great team goal in an exhibition match. Or is it the world cup final against an Italian side renowned for their defensive ability? It is hard to tell. You have to love the way the Brazilian dribbles past three players just to advance a few yards, but the genius is the way the whole move is played down the left side drawing in the Italian defense before they quickly switch to the right and score.

There are many great Brazilians goals to choose from, but this is the best.

6. Pele. Brazil vs. Sweden – 1958

Too many people claim Pele is the best player ever on the basis that unlike Diego Maradona he did not cheat. Well here is hard footballing evidence.

In the 1958 world cup final and just 17 years old, he had the confidence and skill to lob it over the defenders head and volley it past the keeper. What is just as impressive is how he cushions the pass with his chest and rolls around the first defender.

Brazil won the final and their first world cup 5-2.

7. Fernando Torres Spain vs. Ukraine – 2006

Two teams new to the world cup, ripped apart by a couple of old hands. Spain won 4-0.

Also (above), that same year: Esteban Cambiasso Argentina vs. Serbia and Montenegro. Argentina won 6-0.

8. Arie Haan Holland vs. West Germany – 1978

Now this is what they mean by total football. Arie Haan scored two great goals at this world cup, both from distance. There is little to choose between either of them, but this wins because he scores against Holland’s football enemy West Germany. He must be about 35 yards from goal and the shot seems to come from nowhere. Good build up too.

9. Lothar Mattheus Germany vs. Yugoslavia – 1990

This is a real captain’s charge from Mattheus and a fierce strike to finish. Germany won the game 4-1. They went on to lift the world cup and only a year after the collapse of the Berlin wall.

10. Manuel Negrete Mexico vs. Bulgaria – 1986

Great interchange, great volley and what better place to score than in the second round of a world cup in your home country.

Contributor: Simon Arms

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15 Sporting Heroes Unfamiliar to Americans

It’s a common fact, although some will deny it, that most people favor their own nation, or even continent, sometimes to the extreme. America for example, awards Oscar, Grammy and Emmy trophies to mainly Americans, yet they claim that these are international awards.

One would expect this to only apply in the entertainment industry, however this is also the case in the sporting world. For example, Football, which is, without a doubt, the most popular international sport, completely gets ignored by the US, due to America’s lack of achievements (this also applies to Rugby, Cricket, Formula 1 and many other international sports).

Football giants such as Diego Maradona, George Best, Zinedine Zidane, Michel Platini and Lev Yashin, might be famous worldwide, but they are widely unknown in the US. Likewise, American football is only known mainly in America (hence the name!), the vast majority of the players are American, yet they are known in the US, as “world champions.” The same could also be said for baseball, even when other nations beat the US, for example during the Olympics (Japan, Korea, and Cuba beat the US regularly), yet American national champions are still known as world champions… slightly ironic!

Of course, there are many American global greats such as Michael Phelps, Mark Spitz, Michael Jordan, Jim Thorpe, Rocky Marciano, Andre Agassi, Muhammad Ali, Pete Sampras, Jesse Owens, Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, Larry Bird, Lance Armstrong, Oscar De La Hoya, Greg Louganis, just to name few, but one does wonder when he sees names (mainly in the American media) such as Tom Brady, Reggie Bush, Jerry Rice, Derek Jeter and many more, being labelled as “the best in the world” if that really is a valid title. How can you be the best in the entire world, when you are competing in a sport that is predominantly played by one nation?

Here is an unbiased list of 15 global and worldwide sporting legends that you won’t hear about in the US, even though they have all been true world champions.

Note – there are already many lists about all time great legends from soccer, rugby, cricket and F1, so for the purpose of this list, these sports have been excluded. Special thanks to Katie the “Ainglish,” without her help, this list wouldn’t be half as good.

Yuriy Sedykh

A Soviet legend of athletics, who dominated the world of hammer throwing during the late 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. Unlike many hammer throwers, Sedykh threw off three turns rather than four. He felt three turns were sufficient, as he threw nearly the same distances with four turns in practice. He won gold medals at the 1976 and 1980 Summer Olympics, as well as taking first place at the 1986 Goodwill Games and the 1991 World Championships in Athletics. He also won three gold medals at the European games.

He couldn’t defend his title at the Olympics of Los Angeles, in 1984, because the Soviet Union boycotted the American Olympic Games. He would have probably added another gold medal to his impressive collection, since he was by far the best in the world during the Olympics of 1984. He still holds the world record, which is the longest current world record from any event of the athletics for men, a world record which he set back in the summer of 1986. He broke the world record a total six times.

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There’s no doubt that if this guy was an American, his name would be in every American fighting magazine and he would be as famous as “Iron” Mike Tyson was. Mike is a true living legend of kickboxing, who has delivered some of the most impressive knock-outs in the history of any combat sport, which is the reason why he got the nickname, “Iron Mike.” Zambidis is a professional Greek kick boxer and martial artist. He is a 15 time World Champion with an impressive record of 148 wins (85 KO victories) in 165 fights. He has won every world title there is, including W.O.K.A, W.I.P.U, W.K.B.F, K-1 World Max world titles, among others. He is considered by many analysts as one of the greatest pound for pound kick boxers who ever lived.


Regla Torres Herrera is for women’s volleyball what Soviet Aleksandr Savin or the American Karch Kiraly are for men’s volleyball, one of the greatest, if not the greatest of all time. Standing at 1.91m in her socks, Regla Torres Herrera was a towering presence on the volleyball court for the Cuban national team. One of the most dominant middle hitters and blockers ever, she guided her team to a hat-trick of Olympic gold medals between 1992 and 2000 as well as World Championship trophies in 1994 and 1998. During the 1992 Olympic Games she became the youngest ever gold medalist in volleyball, after helping Cuba defeat the Unified Team 3-1 as a 17 year-old. The International Volleyball Federation named Torres the best female player of the 20th century.


A dominant figure in the world of javelin, Zelezný had the right genes for javelin throwing and that showed from a really young age. After winning bronze at the World Championships in 1987 and silver at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, he started dominating the sport from the early 1990s. Zelezný claimed Olympic gold medals in 1992, 1996 and 2000, and three World Championships titles in 1993, 1995 and 2001, setting five world records in the process, and was voted IAAF Athlete of the Year in 2000. He is the only athlete to throw more than 94 meters with the new type of javelin, something he achieved five times.

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David Douillet is a retired French judoka and politician. He is considered the most decorated judoka in history and, at the Olympics of 2000 in Sydney, he became the heavyweight fighter with the most international titles. With six major international titles (2 Olympic titles, 4 world titles), he passed the Japanese Yasuhiro Yamashita (1 Olympic title, 4 world titles) who won his titles in the 1970s. He won a total 11 medals in the major competitions, 3 at the Olympics, 4 in the world championships and 4 in the European championships.

The biggest problem during his career was his multiple injuries which finally forced him to retire at the age of 31, after his victory in the Olympic tournament in Sydney. It’s possible that he could have won more titles, if he didn’t have to deal with so many injuries during his career.


Her name is synonymous with dominance and victory. She won 18 Olympic medals, more than any other competitor in any sport, and was responsible for establishing the Soviet Union as the dominant force in gymnastics. She also holds the record for most individual medals (14 outside of team events) in Olympic history. Few athletes have dominated a sport to the extent of gymnast Larissa. During that period, the graceful Soviet star displayed her class at three different Olympic Games. She’s the only female athlete to win nine Olympic gold medals to this day, and it’s a safe bet to say that Larissa will be the female athlete with the most gold and total medals for a very long time.

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Born on 17 December, 1938, in Opunake, New Zealand, Peter Snell is one of the best middle-distance runners of all time. He became the first man since 1920 to win gold medals at both the 800m and 1500m at the same Olympics. Four years earlier he had won his first gold, in the 800 metres at the Rome Olympics. At the absolute height of his career, Snell stunned New Zealand and the athletics world as he decided to quit and pursue other goals in life. When he ended his career, in 1965, as a 26-year-old man, Snell was a triple Olympic champion, a double gold medal winner at the Commonwealth Games, and he had set multiple world records, most notably at the 800m and 1000m. Peter Snell, is a giant of athletics and a legend in New Zealand.


Kato is one of the most successful gymnasts ever at the Olympics, with his 8 gold medals and 12 overall. Also, he has won more Olympic gold medals than any other male gymnast and more Olympic gold medals than any Asian athlete in the history of any sport.

He is his country’s most decorated sportsman and a member of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame. As of 2011, Sawao Kato is one of only nine people ever in the history of the Olympic Games to have won at least eight Olympic gold medals, with legends such as Michael Phelps (14), Larisa Latynina (9), Carl Lewis (9), Mark Spitz (9), Paavo Nurmi (9), Birgit Fischer (8), Bjørn Dæhlie (8) and Jenny Thompson (8) being the other athletes of this elite group.

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No matter what you say about the Welsh Dragon, it will never be enough. Joe is simply one of the greatest boxers of all time, and the greatest super middleweight boxer who ever lived. Joseph William Calzaghe, is a Welsh former professional boxer. He is the former WBO, WBC, WBA, IBF, The Ring and British super middleweight champion, and The Ring light heavyweight champion. Calzaghe is the longest-reigning world champion in the last 30 years, having held the WBO super middleweight title for over eleven years, until he relinquished the title to concentrate on fighting at light heavyweight. He retired in February 2009, with an undefeated record, becoming one of the very few legends (with others being giants of the sport such as Rocky Marciano and Laszlo Papp) to retire as an undefeated world champion. He’s also one of the few boxers in history who won every major belt there is, including The Ring’s magazine belt in two different divisions. During his impressive career Joe Calzaghe did beat many other great boxers such as Roy Jones and Bernard Hopkins in the US, in front of a hostile American crowd, undefeated champions at the moment like Jeff Lacy, in a must-watch fight, where Joe won all 12 rounds and gave Lacy a boxing lesson; he also won against an undefeated (at the moment) world champion Mikkel Kessler and Chris Eubank. Calzaghe retired as a champion with a perfect record of 46 wins (32 KO’s) and no losses. Most analysts agree that he belongs in the elite pantheon of the sport and he’s arguably the greatest British boxer of all time.


The Frenchman is the modern day “Napoleon” for France, and how couldn’t he be, with all the records and achievements that this man has set already; there’s no doubt that he definitely deserves to be in here. He has won the world championship a record eight times in a row and also holds several other WRC records. For one to realize how dominant Loeb is, and how he took the sport to another level, one would have only to check the numbers. The record for the most victories in the history of the sport was 26, held by another legend, Carlos Zainz, while the record for the most world championships won, was 4, held by Juha Kankkunen and Tommi Mäkinen, but all this was before Loeb’s era. With a total 8 world championships, 67 victories, 808 stage wins, 103 podiums (first and only in history with over 100) and 1281 points, Sébastien could claim the title of the greatest driver-athlete of all time, from any auto and motor sport. The scariest part of all though is that he’s still active and hungry for more titles.

Pyrros is the greatest weightlifter of all time, according to the International Federation of Weightlifting, which gave him that honor back in 2005, and named him the world’s ambassador for the sport in 2011. Dimas did a lot to earn such honors during his career, of course; he won a record four medals at the Olympics and he became a six times World Champion. In terms of pound for pound strength, he has no equal. His Olympic runs have not been surpassed to this day. His legacy in his homeland of Greece, as well as worldwide, is undeniable. He won a total 16 medals in the major competitions, with 12 being gold; 3 consecutive gold at the Olympics of Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney, 6 gold in the world championships and 3 gold in the European games. He used to break the world record regularly, a fact which forced the media to joke about his habit and hobby of breaking the world record so often.

At the Olympics of 2004, in his homeland Athens, he tried to become the first weightlifter in the history of the sport to win 4 gold medals in 4 different Olympic Games. Coming off his multiple injuries and three surgeries on his knees which had forced him to an early retirement for nearly 3 years, most analysts wouldn’t give him a slim chance to make it even in the finals of the tournament. Most saw his participation at the Olympics of Athens, as an honorary competition, as his last stand in front of his people and didn’t have any expectations from him to win a medal, or even to be competitive at his age, and with his injuries. But the Greek Lion, as they used to call him, had a different opinion and was going to shock the world one more time. With his wrist taped, Pyrros took the weightlifting platform and lifted among the best of a new generation of warriors. In the end it all came down to one last lift, one last feat of strength. Pyrros would attempt a weight that would put him in the gold medal position.

With the crowd in silence, Dimas heaved the weight from the ground to his chest and stood up with it. It was clear by the look on his face he was hurting. The weight was too much, and his confidence that was always there in other Olympic games was gone. Dimas attempted to push the weight from his chest to over his head but his battle-worn arms gave out and he dropped the weight. Dimas fell to his back in a half roll and laid there with his hands over his face. To many in the crowd it was like watching a god fall from grace. In his homeland Athens, Greece, the modern Heracles had finally lost. He was hurt, in pain and he would not make further history with another Gold medal; Dimas stood up, took off his weightlifting shoes and left them on the platform signaling he was done with weightlifting. He had left all he had there, just like another great Greek had done against the Romans thousands of years ago, Pyrrhus of Epirus, the man that Pyrros Dimas took his name from.

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“I love the pole vault because it is a professor’s sport. One must not only run and jump, but one must think. Which pole to use, which height to jump, which strategy to use. I love it because the results are immediate and the strongest is the winner. Everyone knows it. In everyday life that is difficult to prove.” – Sergey Bubka

Serhiy Nazarovych is a retired Ukrainian pole vaulter. Repeatedly voted as the world’s best athlete, he represented the Soviet Union until its collapse, in 1991. Bubka won 6 gold medals in 6 consecutive IAAF World Championships, more than any athlete from any event, in the history of Athletics world championships, an Olympic gold, a European gold, 4 gold in the world Indoor championships and broke the world record for men’s pole vaulting 35 times (17 outdoor and 18 indoor records). He was the first to clear 6.0 meters and the only person to clear 6.10 meters (20 ft). He still holds the current outdoor world record of 6.14 meters (20 feet 13⁄4 inches), set on 31 July 1994 in Sestriere, Italy, and the current indoor world record of 6.15 meters, set on 21 February 1993 in Donetsk, Ukraine. Bubka has received many international honors for his achievements and contributions to the world of sports, such as Prince of Asturias Award in Sports, in 1991, Sportsman of the Year for 1997 by the newspaper L’Équipe, UNESCO Champion for Sport in 2003, and in 2005 he received the Panathlon international Flambeau d’Or for his contribution to the development and promotion of sports. Bubka is today a member of the ‘Champions for Peace’ club, a group of 54 famous elite athletes committed to serving peace in the world through sport, created by Peace and Sport, a Monaco-based international organization.


Here’s another case of an athlete who had the bad luck to be born in the wrong country, in the wrong time. Papp became the first man in history to win three successive gold medals at the Olympics of 1948, 1952 and 1956, something that only Felix Savon and Teofilo Stevenson succeeded after him; he also won gold in two European championships in Oslo and Milan. After three Olympic gold medals there was little left for Papp to achieve in the amateurs. He had gathered an unbelievable record of 306 official victories, only three losses and six draws. Papp was interested in fighting as a professional and, even though it was against the principles of the Communist society, the officials gave him their blessing as a contribution for all the success Papp had brought to his homeland. Papp was getting older and running out of time, but he still got his chance to fight for the European title in 1965, which he won by knocking out Danish champion Chris Christensen in eight rounds. Papp won the rematch faster than that, twice, and defended his title successfully for a total five times. A victory over Sugar Ray Robinson’s former challenger, Ralph “Tiger” Jones, proved that Papp was to be taken seriously in the pro level as well, even at his old age.

Papp already had a contract fighting for the world title in the United States, and he was willing to travel there, but the Hungarian officials prevented it. They announced that it was time for the 39 year-old Papp to end his career and to come back to his homeland and retire. The loyal man that Papp was, he did that and finished his professional career being undefeated in 29 fights, with 27 victories and two draws.

Papp was inducted into the International Boxing Hall Of Fame, in 2001. In 1989, WBC President José Sulaimán, gave Papp an award for ‘Best amateur and professional boxer of all time’ and granted him honorary champion status of the World Boxing Council. Papp was known as a quiet, honest man who never bragged about himself but did his talking inside the ring. In there, his fists told a story that will never be forgotten from the minds of the boxing fans, at least the true boxing fans outside the US, where boxing is a sport and not a battlefield of financial, racial and political games of boxing promoters, boxing fans and media.


Probably he deserves the #1 spot of this list, but I was afraid that I would be accused of personal and national favoritism, considering my previous list of the 15 most influential Greeks. Even though he’s the absolute number 1 in my personal list of athletes, I will give him the second spot and just list the facts and numbers about the athlete Yannis Kouros, and you may be the judge.

According to the facts and record books (Guinness included) the legendary Greek ultra-marathon runner holds more world records than any athlete in the history of any popular sport with 134 world records. It’s recorded officially that he’s the man who has run the most hours, days, weeks, months, years and miles than any other man in the history of mankind. New York Times – among other international papers and magazines – covered the NY 6-day race back in 1984, where Kouros broke 16 World Records and left the whole world speechless.

He’s the athlete with the most records in the Guinness Book of World Records (31) from any sport, he has won 71 ultra marathons in every continent, more than anyone in history and he holds, to this day, all the world records in the following races: 1) 100 miles Road, 2) 100 km Track, 3) 1000 km Road, 4) 1000 miles Road, 5) 12h Road, 6) 12h Track, 7) 24h Road, 8) 24h Track, 9) 48h Road, 10) 48h Track, 11) 6 days Track and 12) 6 days Road.

Some selected titles or expressions that Y. Kouros has been called by the world Press: “Ultra-marathon God,” “King of the road,” “Emperor of Ultra-running,” “Golden Greek,” “Bionic Kouros,” “Miracle Man,” “Superhuman,” “Poet in Motion,” “Fearless,” “Incomparable,” “The Greatest,” “Greek Streak,” “Super Kouros,” “Relentless,” “Amazing Yiannis,” and “Speed Kouros.”

Kouros has also written over 1,000 poems, several of which appear in his book Symblegmata (Clusters) and the book The Six-Day Run of the Century.

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Probably the most famous athlete in the US, from the 15 in the list, but I still feel like it’s not enough for an athlete of his status, the little respect and recognition he enjoys in the US, from the hardcore fans of wrestling mainly. Karelin holds a Ph.D. in Physical Education. Nicknamed the “Russian Bear,” “Alexander the Great,” and “The Experiment,” he went undefeated in international competition for 13 years (spanning from 1987 to 2000). After going so many years undefeated in international competition, and six years without giving up a point, thanks to his injuries and broken ribs only 5 months before the Olympics, he suffered an upset loss to Rulon Gardner in the gold-medal match at the Sydney Olympics. A healthy Karelin had earlier beaten Gardner easily, in 1997.

He is universally considered to be the greatest Greco-Roman wrestler of all time and many agree that he might be the greatest athlete of all time from any combat or fighting sport. Karelin was over 6’5 tall (1,96cm) and weighed 130 kg (286 lb). During his incredible career he won 4 medals at the Olympics, gold at the Olympics of 1988, 1992, 1996 and a silver at his last Olympics of 2000; he also won 9 world titles in 9 participations and 12 European titles in 12 participations. His dominance on the highest level of competition is unmatched by any other athlete from any other combat sport. Karelin was famous for his reverse body lift, the “Karelin Lift,” where facing the opponent who was lying flat on the mat to keep from being thrown, Karelin hoisted his opponents into the air and slammed them violently to the mat. This devastatingly effective maneuver, when properly executed, awarded Karelin 5 points per throw, the maximum awarded in Greco-Roman wrestling. The throw had long been in use by lighter wrestlers but not by heavyweights since the technique required immense strength. Karelin’s ability to perform this throw against elite opponents weighing as much as 130 kg was amazing to audiences as well as other participants and observers of the sport. FILA (International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles) named Karelin as the greatest wrestler ever, as soon as Karelin retired from the sport back in 2000.

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Top 10 Greatest Photographs in Baseball History

The criteria for choosing and ranking these photographs are historical significance, artistic composition, action, and people involved. Some of the photographs’ nicknames were provided by the lister.


Caption: Pete Rose Collides with Ray Fosse

One of baseball’s most famous collisions occurred at the very end of the 1970 All-Star Game, when, after the ball was hit, Pete Rose of the Reds, on third, charged as fast as he possibly could for home, but instead of sliding, he simply tackled Fosse at full speed. Both men weighed 200 lbs or more and Rose got the better of it, tagging the plate and sending Fosse sprawling. He hit him so hard he dislocated Fosse’s right shoulder, and some claim this caused Fosse’s career’s downfall.

Rose was heavily criticized for what some called “too much aggression” given that winning the All-Star Game didn’t really matter. Rose did not apologize, and stated that he was just trying to win, lending credence to his nickname, “Charlie Hustle.” But if anyone should complain about this much aggression, they should first consider the next entry.


Caption: Cobb Steals Home

This photograph corroborates all the biographical literature’s descriptions of Ty Cobb’s true nature on the field. He didn’t play to win. He fought to kill. This incident occurred on 4 July 1912, and shows Cobb “stealing home” not by sliding under or around the catcher’s mitt, but by deliberately dropkicking him right in the groin. Baseball shoes back then had cleats, but not dull, hard plastic. They sported iron spikes in the toes and heels, and with them Cobb could run 100 meters in 10 seconds flat, even wearing his baggy uniform. He stood on third base and took out a steel file, sharpened his spikes, and then charged right in to the catcher. This was not against the rules and Cobb was ruled perfectly safe while the catcher writhed on the ground. His aggression is a substantial reason why Cobb holds the record for all-time home base steals with 54. Max Carey, who played from 1910 to 1929, is second, with 33. The unfortunate catcher in the photograph is Paul Krichell.


Caption: Mickey Mantle Tossing His Helmet

Mantle was one of the most powerful batters ever, and one of the fastest base runners. He had terrible knee problems throughout his career, and was still able to sprint from home to first in 3.4 seconds. He retired with a lifetime batting average of .298, which is very good, and 536 home runs, which is phenomenal. Many of his home runs were titanically powerful blasts. One famously measured 565 feet from home plate. Some say that another would have traveled 634 feet had it not struck the upper deck facade of Yankee Stadium’s grandstand. To say that Mantle had his share of joyous moments, both for himself and for his fans, is an understatement, but like any great player, he couldn’t stand playing poorly. He felt he had to give the fans what they paid to see. This photograph was taken in 1965 and shows Mantle having just struck out. Up to bat after him is John Dominis in the background. The photograph is very artistic, and does a great job showing the tragedy of the game. It has its highs, but it must have its lows, and here, Mantle is throwing his helmet away in disgust. He did not score a hit in this game. The picture also shows a key to his legendary power: his gigantic forearms. They’re almost Popeye-huge. Thus, he was able to swing the bat with excellent wrist control to give it extra snap.


Caption: Honus Wagner in Mid-air

Wagner’s nicknames were “the human vacuum cleaner,” and more well-known, “the Flying Dutchman.” He came from the Pennsylvania Dutch country, itself a misnomer, since it was originally Pennsylvania Deutsch. The inhabitants are largely descendants of German immigrants. Wagner’s full name was Johannes Peter Wagner. He was one of the absolute fastest base runners in the game’s history, and this photograph shows a little of that. He has just finished running from third to home and is making one final leap to tag the plate. His feet are both at least a foot off the ground and he makes it all look as effortless as “the man on the flying trapeze.” Wagner was an extremely nice guy to everyone, as opposed to his chief rival, Ty Cobb, and not nearly as well known as Cobb due to Cobb’s famed surliness. But Wagner was just as adept as stealing bases, tying with Cobb for the record of most single-inning steal cycles in history: on four separate occasions, he stole second, then third, then home in the same inning.


Caption: He Was Out!

This photograph shows Jackie Robinson, the first black player allowed into the majors, stealing home against possibly the greatest catcher ever, Yogi Berra. This occurred in Game 1 of the 1955 World Series, which Robinson’s Dodgers won, their first ever. It is part of a series of photos showing Robinson running the whole baseline and Berra getting into position to stop him. The umpire ruled that Robinson’s foot slid under Berra’s mitt and tagged the plate before Berra could bring his mitt down. The photo was always somewhat well-known but became legendary when Berra was stopped on the sidewalk one day years later by a fan who had a copy of it. Berra smiled and signed it, “He was out! Yogi Berra,” and then explained that he grazed Robinson’s shoe with his mitt, but that the umpire was behind Berra and couldn’t see. From then on, copies of the photo became popular collectibles, and Berra has never disappointed, always signing them, “He was out!” He even signed one for President Lyndon Johnson.


Caption: Yogi Berra Hugging Don Larsen

Don Larsen is not generally thought of as one of the greatest pitchers in history, but anyone who pitches a perfect game deserves to be on such a list. His perfect game occurred as Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, the only perfect game in World Series history. The suspense, the thrill, the jubilation, thus, could not have been topped. A perfect game is the ultimate achievement for a pitcher (except perhaps striking out all 27 batters with 3 pitches each, which has never happened). There have only been 23 in history. There were some close calls in this game, especially Gil Hodges’s screaming line drive to left-centerfield. No less than Mickey Mantle sprinted, dove, and caught it in the air. The last batter Larsen faced was Dale Mitchell, who retired with a massive .311 average. Larsen managed a called third strike to end the game, 27 up, 27 down, no hits, no runs, no walks, no struck batters, no errors. Yogi Berra immediately leaped up, ran, and jumped into Larsen’s arms as the crowd erupted. One of the most purely joyous moments baseball has seen.

Gehrig Goodbye

Caption: Lou Gehrig Looking at his Trophies

Possibly the saddest moment in baseball was immortalized in multiple photographs, since every major newspaper sent someone to take them. By the time Gehrig called it quits, the fans knew something was terribly wrong, and once his strange new disease (and its method of killing someone) made the papers, everyone in the country seemed firmly supportive of Gehrig. During the farewell between games of a doubleheader on 4 July 1939, 61,808 fans, plus Babe Ruth, and the two teams, Yankees and Senators, paid Gehrig the tribute he deserved. He was presented with over two-dozen trophies from various people and organizations. The photograph shows him with his head bowed before them while both teams and others stand behind him, hats in hands, and Mayor Fiorello La Guardia speaks at the microphones. The reason all the trophies are on the ground is because Gehrig no longer had the strength to hold one up.


Caption: The Catch

This famous play was immortalized by a still-frame of the televised coverage of Game 1 of the 1954 World Series between Willie Mays’ Giants and the Cleveland Indians. Victor Wertz slammed a 450 foot fly ball into dead centerfield of the Polo Grounds “that would have been a home run in any other stadium, including Yellowstone,” as one sportswriter said. Mays was playing shallow center and thus had a long sprint after the ball, watching it over his shoulder, and a sequence of photos shows the whole play. The final instant before the ball lands in his glove only three or four feet from the wall will never be forgotten. The ball is about one and a half feet out of his glove, and he makes a perfect basket catch, running at full speed. He then whirled and flung the ball back to third so hard his hat fell off, a typical performance.


Caption: The Babe Bows Out

All the famous shots of Ruth standing and looking almost straight up immediately following another titanic home run blast are what most of us remember about him. But the finest depiction of him shows him as just flesh and blood like anyone else, an old man about to be given a farewell by his old team and thousands of fans at Yankee Stadium, having completely used himself up in hard-partying style for the last 30 years. The photograph was taken by Nat Fein, who won the Pulitzer for it in 1949. He took it on 3 June 1948, only two months before Ruth’s death from nasopharyngeal cancer. Ruth was known as the most powerful batter anyone had ever seen, bar none. Today, he is still respected with awe by professional players.

Some say he was simply a freak of nature to be able to play so well and party so hard without any detriment to his performance. He routinely slammed baseballs over 550 feet away, which is beyond belief. His longest shot was in 1926 against Ty Cobb’s Detroit Tigers. He knocked the ball out of Navin Field and onto the roof of a livery across the street, at least 625 feet away. He knocked balls completely out of every stadium in which he played, except Yankee Stadium. He did, however, regularly knock them out of the Polo Grounds, an astounding feat, before Yankee Stadium was built. The photograph shows a tired old man leaning on his bat, and you might not have known who he is were it not for the famous number 3 on his back. Everyone likes to think of him as immortal. But this photograph shows otherwise. He was just a man, which makes his feats even more impressive.


Caption: Cobb Steals Third

The finest baseball photograph because it captures the fierceness and intensity of the game’s most daring, aggressive player. It was almost impossible to record motion pictures of ball games in Cobb’s day, and still photographs rarely caught the gritty speed and determination everyone lauded about Cobb. Charles Conlon snapped the photograph on 23 July 1910, using a large format Graflex camera on a tripod. He was on the field, behind third base in foul territory. Conlon was quite familiar with Cobb’s demonic abuse of the baselines and basemen and had his camera ready with Cobb on second.

True to form, Cobb stole second, banking on the catcher’s weak arm, and knocking third baseman Jimmy Austin out of the way. He deliberately tripped Austin with his shoulder, forcing him to jump out of the way and thus miss the catcher’s throw. What the picture doesn’t show is that Cobb leaped up and stole home while the left fielder went for the ball.

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10 Stories Behind Crazy Sport Traditions

Sports are fun to play but they are also just as fun to watch thanks to a rich history of crazy fans and sports-specific or even team-specific traditions that have spanned across the decades. So while we fans aren’t scoring the game-winning goal, we still get heavily involved in the sport and in our teams through a number of ways. Below are just ten of the many traditions that have defined the “sport” of watching sports. By no means is this a comprehensive list – it was hard enough just narrowing down the list to ten even when I limited myself to only professional sports – so feel free to include any traditions, rituals and/or superstitions you want to share in the comments!

The abbreviations in the list are as follows: NHL (National Hockey League), NFL (National Football League – American football), MLB (Major League Baseball), NBA (National Basketball Association), FIFA (International Federation of Association Football)


The best way to show support for your favorite team is to proudly wear the team colors. Greater solidarity comes from tens of thousands of your fellow sports fanatics all wearing the same color. Its beginnings may have come from the NHL’s Calgary Flames during the 1986 Stanley Cup Finals. The Edmonton Oilers’s fans were in the midst of “Hat Trick Fever” as they tried to win their third consecutive championship. In response to Hat Trick Fever, Calgary promoted “C of Red” to encourage their fans to come dressed in entirely red. During next year’s first round playoffs, Calgary’s opponent responded with the “Winnipeg White Out”. Now it is extremely popular in US Universities like Penn State’s Code Blue and Virginia Tech’s Orange/Maroon Effect.


This is a fairly recent fixture in the FIFA scene even though the vuvuzela has been popular in South African games since the 1990s. The vuvuzela is a simply blow horn originally made of tin but mass-produced in plastic for games. Blowing through the mouth as you would a trumpet, the vuvuzela emits a loud monotone note similar to elephant trumpets. It’s stirred up some controversy because there are many who are trying to have them banned from the upcoming 2010 World Cup. The complains range from “too loud” to “not fit for a sports arena.” The vuvuzela supporters say that it doesn’t detract from the game anymore than anything else that fans have with them and that it is a strong part of the South African culture.


This popular hockey tradition may have gotten its inspiration from the sport of cricket. In cricket, a hat trick happens when a bowler dismisses three batsmen with consecutive deliveries. The custom crossed over to hockey with Ontario’s Biltmore Mad Hatters. When one of the players scored three goals in a game, the team owner Mr. Biltmore would present him with a new fedora. Many stories describe Mr. Biltmore throwing his top hat onto the ice to salute the player and soon enough, the fans also tossed their own hats onto the ice. After they are collected, the hats are either donated, thrown away or saved for a gigantic transparent case that showcases the franchise’s hat trick history.


During intermissions, many fans will race to the concession stand to grab some more food before the game resumes. In certain stadiums, the food does the running! The most famous is the Klement’s Sausage Race at Miller Park (home of the MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers). The tradition began in the early 90s as a computer animation race on the scoreboard but they made their first live appearance in 1994. At the bottom of the sixth inning of every Milwaukee Brewers home game, employees of Miller Park and a select few highly honored guest wieners don the seven foot three inch foam costumes and race from third base down to home plate and back up to first base. To date there are five sausages: Brett Wurst the bratwurst, Stosh the Polish sausage, Guido the Italian sausage, Frankie Furter the hot dog and Cinco the Chorizo. Bratwurst is currently the race leader with eighteen wins. The race gained fame outside of baseball in July 2003 when then-Pittsburgh Pirate Randall Simon used a bat to hit Guido (worn by employee Mandy Block) on the sausage’s head. Given where he hit Guido, the bat never came near Mandy Block’s head but since the costume is so top-heavy, Guido easy fell down and took Hot Dog down as well. Simon was arrested, given a fine and suspended by the MLB for three games. Despite reprimands by the authorities, some found the situation comical. Mandy Block asked for Simon’s autograph on the infamous bat and t-shirt companies made a tidy profit with shirts saying “Don’t whack our weiner!”


The Terrible Towel is as much a symbol of the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers as their three-star logo. Its creation comes from the mid-1970s after the Steelers won their first ever Super Bowl in 1974 and were strong contenders at the 1975 playoffs after winning twelve of fourteen games during the regular season. Around that time, general manager Ted Atkins, sales manager Larry Gerrett and broadcaster Myron Cope brainstormed ideas to market of the team’s success. The first idea was a mask of head coach Chuck Noll but was dismissed due to price issues. The next idea was the more cost-effective “Terrible Towel” because it was cheap, durable and easy to carry around. They had less than two weeks to promote the Terrible Towel so Myron Cope went on TV and radio telling people to bring, buy or dye a dish towel yellow, gold or black. By the next game, somewhere between 30,000-50,000 fans were spinning towels over their heads and the numbers have only grown since then. The following year, the Steeler’s franchise printed the official Terrible Towel image onto bright yellow towels and the tradition became official. All proceeds from Terrible Towel sales go to the Allegheny Valley School, which is “a residential and educational facility for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” To date, the Terrible Towel has made over $2.5 million for the Allegheny Valley School.


At the old Yankee baseball Stadium, the fans in section 39 had a history of bad behavior. They heckled visiting teams and high school marching band students, they ignored the warnings of stadium ushers, and they even badgered fellow Yankee fans who weren’t part of their tight-knit group known as the Bleacher Creatures. As a result of the bad attitudes, section 39 lacked access to the rest of the stadium and beer sales were banned in just that area. However, negotiations between the Yankee organization and the Bleacher Creatures ensured that the group would get to sit together in section 203 of the new Yankee Stadium in exchange for a some changes to a few of their more belligerent Bleacher Creature traditions. Now seen more as ‘extremely loyal fans’ rather than a group of nasty hecklers, Yankee home games aren’t really complete until they deliver their Bleacher Roll Call. At the top of the first inning, “Bald Vinny” Milano shouts the name of a Yankee player and the entire section will chant that particular baseball player’s name until he recognizes the Bleacher Creatures with a wave or salute. They will go down lineup until every Yankee player is called.

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This is a tradition that started with the NHL’s New York Islanders. From 1980 to 1983, the team won the championship and lifted Lord Stanley’s cup high above their whiskered faces. Since then, many teams and their fans have put away the razorblade for the duration of their playoff run. In addition to discussing team strategies and playoff series, fans also get into debates over which players can grow the best, worst or the most nonexistent playoff beard. Many teams will also sponsor Beard-A-Thons in which players and fans grow a playoff beard to fundraise money for various charities. The Playoff Beard tradition is strongest within hockey but it has found its way into other sports through players like the NFL’s Jake Plummer and tennis pro Björn Borg.

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Fans love to show their support by wearing their team colors. Some may take it to the next level with brightly-colored facepaint or tattoos (whether temporary or not) but there are a select few superfans who are dressed so bizarrely that everyone takes notice. The NFL’s Washington Redskins have the Hogettes. When the group was formed, no one had even thought it would become an unofficial football mascot. As founder Michael Torbert describes it, he attended a Halloween Party at his grandmother’s retirement home dressed in her tea party finest and he was so popular that he and his friends thought they could take this act to local hospitals to cheer up sick children. As lifelong Redskins fans, they decided to go attend a game in their drag wear including pig snout masks referencing the offensive linesmen who were nicknamed the “Hogs.” The Hogettes have become a fixture within the Redskins community and through their fame, they have found greater exposure for their many charities. To date, the Hogettes have raised over $100 million for various charities like the Ronald McDonald House and the March of Dimes.


Heckling is one of the least favorable traditions in pro sports fandom but jeers and taunts are as common at games as the cheers and applause. No one has a heckling career as quite as prestigious as that of Robin Ficker (above), an ardent fan of the former Washington Bullets (now known as the NBA’s Washington Wizards). For twelve years, Robin Ficker held season tickets to Washington Bullets games that were directly behind the visiting team’s bench. He would taunt players through his megaphone. He made fun of coaches’ outfits. When the Chicago Bulls came to play, Ficker would read the sex passages of Bull’s Coach Phil Jackson’s 1975 autobiography “Maverick.” He’s had some supporters over the years, including basketball player Charles Barkley who had flown him to Phoenix when his team was in the finals against the Chicago Bulls. In 1997, the former Bullets moved to the MCI Center and Ficker decided not to renew his season tickets because the new seats were too far from the visitor’s bench. He faded from the sports world for focus on his political career but has recently taken to attending and heckling at wrestling matches at the University of Maryland.

Fans Octopus 2009

A practice that remains strong for the Detroit Redwings of the NHL that (hopefully) won’t catch on with the other teams is the tossing of octopuses onto the rink. The origins of this tentacled tradition began in 1952 when fewer NHL teams meant that the road to the Stanley Cup only took eight playoff wins. To mark this occasion, brothers Pete and Jerry Cusimano threw the eight-legged creature onto the ice to represent the Redwing’s eight games against the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. Since then, hundreds of octopuses have rained down onto the Redwing rink, including one tossed by Bob Dubisky and Larry Shotwell that weighed 50 lbs (22.68 kg). With every octopus purchased for the purpose of tossing, the Superior Fish Market gives out an “Octoquette” which is a pamphlet of recommended guidelines for octopus tossing, including boiling the octopus for half an hour (raw octopus tends to stick to the ice and leave a slimy residue when removed), launching them only after a Redwing goal as any other time may result in a Delay of Game penalty, and toss the octopus in a direction away from any players, officials and personnel.

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