Go Long!: The Super Bowl Quiz

It’s the biggest holiday of the year, if you measure your holidays in the amount of beer and nachos consumed. But what do you really know about the history of the Super Bowl? Throw a sharp spiral to the right answer, or just lob it for a Hail Mary, and have fun testing your knowledge of America’s favorite Sunday.

Rush, Benjamin

Rush, Benjamin (1745-1813), an American physician and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Rush’s writings on medicine and on social reforms made him the leading doctor in America in his day.
Rush was born near Philadelphia. He graduated from the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) and received his medical degree from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1768. At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War Rush was professor of chemistry at the College of Philadelphia (an early name for the University of Pennsylvania). He served briefly as surgeon general of the Continental armies.
After the war Rush resumed teaching. He was a member of the convention that framed the United States Constitution, and was a member of the Pennsylvania legislature that ratified the Constitution. From 1797 to 1813 he served as treasurer of the United States Mint.
Rush established the first free medical dispensary in the United States, in 1786. He was a pioneer in the field of experimental physiology and, for his time, showed an unusual understanding of mental illness.

High School Football Rules on Cleat Length

Football games may be played on a wide variety of surfaces, ranging from muddy and wet to artificial turf. In order to maximize speed and agility on any surface, football players change their footwear and cleats to match the conditions and maximize grip. High school players must abide by a rule regarding the maximum length for cleats.
Cleat length is determined by measuring the distance from the tip of the cleat to the sole of the shoe. In high school play, the cleat length must be no longer than 1/2 inch. Some sporting goods stores sell longer cleats, but it is the player¡¯s responsibility to be aware of the rules and how to measure the cleats.
The cleat length rule is intended to prevent an unfair advantage as well as to decrease the risk of injury. Players who choose to wear longer cleats may have better traction, but they are also more susceptible to injuries. When a cleat gets stuck in the playing surface, the player can twist an ankle or knee — which can result in a serious injury.
In addition to meeting the length requirement, high school football cleats must be detachable or molded. The detachable cleats are most common because they allow the players to adjust or change their cleats. Molded cleats feature non-removable studs and typically are less than 1/2 inch long.
High school football rules allow cleats to be metal-tipped, but they cannot be all-metal spikes similar to those on a baseball shoe. The metal-tipped cleat has a hard plastic body and is easily changed, as in the case of detachable cleats. The metal tip helps to prolong the life of the cleat by reducing wear.

Little Girls Need to Ditch Their Dresses and Dig in the Dirt

A post over at NPR’s health blog about girls and germs reminded me of an old family photo. In it, my older siblings are playing football in the yard while little Cristen is standing on the sidelines, stone-faced and sporting a frilly dress and matching hair bow. Adorable — and completely bored. That picture could perfectly illustrate the point Oregon State science philosopher Sharyn Clough made to NPR about something called the hygiene hypothesis. Basically, the hygiene hypothesis holds that kids are developing more health problems because they aren’t being exposed to enough germs in childhood. And Clough asserts that the problem is especially acute for little girls who, like me, were dolled up in dresses and standing on the sidelines instead of digging around in the dirt.
From the NPR post: “Girls are expected to stay squeaky clean while boys are encouraged to play outside…And that might explain why women have higher rates of certain illnesses.” Clough points to females’ higher rates of asthma, allergies and autoimmune disorders as evidence of her claim.
As for girls’ clothing and behavior, Clough explains:
Getting dirty can be good for kids since it exposes their young immune systems to a smorgasbord of bacteria and other microbes. That early exposure might protect them against future infection and disease. But with allergies and asthma on the rise for both boys and girls in the United States, the solution probably has little to do with gendered wardrobes. If the hygiene hypothesis is correct, everyone needs to get outside and play in the dirt more often.
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1960 Edsel

One of the most intricate, yet obscure, stories in American automotive history is that of the creation of the Edsel. The 1960 Edsel, the brief final act in the tragicomedy that was Ford Motor Company’s attempt to break into the lower medium-price market and more closely compete with General Motors.
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That the 1960 Edsel existed at all was due to Henry Ford II, who felt a sense of obligation to the dealers who sold the car that bore his father’s name. That it was so short-lived can be attributed to then-Ford Vice President Robert S. McNamara. A number of factors have traditionally been cited in the demise of the Edsel: an unanticipated downturn in the U.S. economy at the time of its introduction; a dramatic turn to small European imports; the realization that, despite its breathless build-up, the Edsel was a curiously styled but otherwise conventional car. However, a strong argument can be made that none of these events really played as much of a role as did McNamara’s firm conviction to scuttle the Edsel from the outset. At the car’s press preview in late August 1957, McNamara casually told Fairfax Cone of Foote, Cone & Belding, the agency handling Edsel advertising, “We have plans for phasing it out.” Even before the Edsel was the Edsel, it was already a political football at Ford. In 1952, John R. Davis, the company’s vice president for sales (and an ally of Edsel Ford in creating the Mercury in the 1930s), was charged with making a study of Ford’s product positioning vis-a-vis its competitors. Study recommendations included the creation of a new top-end Continental Division and a new upper-medium-price nameplate. Since medium-price at Ford meant Mercury, the Lincoln-Mercury Division was handed the study for review, a task that fell to Assistant General Manager Richard Krafve. The Krafve team’s 1954 report suggested a new medium-priced make that could be produced by Lincoln-Mercury and sold through its existing dealers. But this didn’t sit well with Lewis Crusoe, who was promoted from general manager of the Ford Division to group vice president of car and truck operations in January 1955. He had long envisioned a division-to-division competition with General Motors. To make a case for his grand plan, Crusoe enlisted Francis “Jack” Reith to work up a presentation to support such a corporate organization. Reith, like McNamara, one of the 10 professorial “Whiz Kids” hired by Henry Ford II in 1946 to help him revive the doddering company, made his pitch to Ford directors on April 15, 1955.
They wholeheartedly embraced the plan, which, among other things, called for separate Lincoln and upwardly mobile Mercury divisions and the creation of a Special Products Division. Special Products was given the task of creating a new medium-priced “E” car; Krafve — ironically — was named general manager for the new division. The “E” car had one influential opponent, however. McNamara, who succeeded Crusoe as head of Ford Division, was quietly appalled that the corporation would budget hundreds of millions of dollars to bring out a car, indeed a division, to compete head-on with General Motors. He was convinced the car would not turn a profit for three years or more. Many will argue that McNamara not only saw the cheaper range of Edsels as a threat to his Ford Division, but that he had a pathological compulsion to destroy it. There’s more to it than that. McNamara had a sixth sense for what the company could and could not market profitably in the 1950s. While his methods and ambition may have rubbed some at Ford the wrong way, McNamara almost never made a wrong decision, armed as he always was with mountains of information and analysis.

One of the first steps McNamara took to put a stumbling block in the Edsel’s path was to prevent Special Products (later the Edsel Division) from recruiting the best talent within the company, especially from within his own division, the performance of which he always stressed as critical to the health of the entire corporation.
In this and other decisions, McNamara had strong support from Ernest R. Breech, chairman of the Executive Committee, and others in top management at the Ford corporate level. In the end, half of the personnel in the new division came from outside the company. Another problem for the Edsel was where to build it. It was decided to build all Edsels, and nothing but Edsels, in one plant at Louisville, Kentucky. Then, very late in 1956, a decision was made to assemble Edsel Rangers and Pacers in Ford plants and Corsairs and Citations in Mercury plants. As a result, it was virtually impossible for Edsel management to maintain an acceptable degree of quality control on the Ford and Mercury assembly lines. And McNamara, who, upon Crusoe’s retirement, became group vice president of all vehicle operations in May 1957, was not inclined to put his imprimatur on Krafve’s request to allow Edsel inspectors into the other divisions’ plants. Frankly, this was a time when all Ford products, save Lincoln, were at a low point in quality control. (The 1957 Ford arguably was the poorest-assembled Ford of all time.) The problems were only magnified when one to three Edsel Rangers and Pacers were added to the nearly 60 Fords coming down the lines every working hour. Further problems with suppliers likewise bedeviled both makes. It really wasn’t until the 1959 model year that Ford began to get its quality control in order.
Continue to the next page to learn about the introduction of the Edsel in 1957.
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What Materials Are Baseballs Made of?

Major League Baseball purchased more than 600,000 baseballs from the manufacturer Rawlings in 1998. These baseballs are all uniform in construction to ensure they are are uniform in performance. Therefore all baseballs used in professional play are made from the same materials. While these materials have changed in the past, they have been kept standard in recent years.
You might be surprised to learn that baseballs are sewn by hand. According to Rawlings employee Steve Johnson, the company tried for 10 years to invent a machine that would sew the outer casings together. Their attempts failed to replicated the precise tension produced in hand-sewn balls. Therefore seamstresses are presented with the core of a baseball surrounded by a leather cover with pre-punched holes that they must stitch with a custom-made needle.
All baseballs used by Major League Baseball consist of the same materials. An inner core is made of rubber-coated cork and then surrounded by three layers of wool yarn and a winding of cotton or polyester yarn. This core is then coated in latex adhesive or rubber cement and covered with cowhide. Stitching is then done with red cotton thread to yield 216 raised cotton stitches.
Today China produces around 80 percent of baseballs on the world market. However, all baseballs used by the Major League Baseball are produced by the company Rawlings. Their factory is located in Costa Rica.
Today baseballs are made with cowhide but until 1974 they were made with horsehide. The changeover occurred because horsehide was becoming difficult to acquire. Rubber coated cork became the center of baseballs in 1910, replacing solid rubber. Previous experiments with cork alone had failed because the wool windings would swell after manufacture.

Shoulder Pain From Weightlifting

If you experience should pain when lifting weights or after a workout, it could be the result of strained muscles, bursitis, tendinitis or something more serious, such as an injury to your rotator cuff or another part of the shoulder joint. Understanding the source of your pain will help determine whether you should stop weightlifting for a while and seek treatment to regain the healthy use of your shoulders.
Tendinitis is the inflammation of the tendons, which are the tissues that connect muscle to bone. Dr. Peter Gott, a syndicated columnist and author of ¡°Live Longer, Live Better¡± notes that tendinitis is especially common with repetitive actions in the joints, such as those associated with weightlifting or tennis. Bursitis is the inflammation of a bursa, a fluid-filled sac between bones and muscles, and is often the result of overuse. Tenderness and pain, particularly when your arm is raised, should prompt a visit to the doctor for an evaluation. If the problem appears to be a ¡°flare-up¡± of tendinitis or bursitis, you will likely be told to rest the shoulder and apply ice. Chronic tendinitis or bursitis may require a corticosteroid injection or even a surgical intervention.
A rotator cuff injury is a common problem facing baseball pitchers and other athletes. The rotator cuff is actually a network of muscles and tendons covering the top bones of the shoulder joint and is essential for lifting your arm. But unlike the knee ligament injuries that plague football running backs, for example, rotator cuff tears are not usually the result of a single incident. Instead, rotator cuff damage tends to occur over a long period of time and results from repetitive overhead motions with the arms. Weightlifting is a leading culprit. An MRI or physical exam can often diagnose the problem. Rest and special physical therapy and joint-strengthening exercises can help, though more serious tears might require surgery.
When you lift weights, you will feel some pain. However, that pain is temporary and should end soon after you stop a particular set of exercises. The pain should also be confined to the muscle, not the joints. Pain in the shoulder joint feels different from shoulder muscle strains you might feel when finishing an especially tough set of lifts. Learn to recognize the difference. If you experience pain in your shoulders from lifting weights, stop and rest your shoulders a few days. If the pain doesn¡¯t subside or returns as soon as you try to use the shoulder joint, seek medical attention.
To prevent some of the above-mentioned conditions, one of the most important things you can do is maintain proper form when lifting weights, particularly when you¡¯re lifting above your shoulders. One of the keys to preserving safe form is lifting a manageable amount of weight or at least having a spotter standing by to help if you start to struggle with a heavy weight. You might want to consider using a military press machine rather than free weights, which are harder to control. Ask a trainer or an experienced weightlifter for tips on proper technique.

Soccer Striker Training Tips

The soccer striker is the goal-scorer on a soccer team, and the player who plays the closest to the opposition goal during a game. Soccer striker training should incorporate shooting technique, movement and decision-making. A soccer striker must have the ability to keep possession of the ball for his team during open play, and to shoot and score goals when the opportunity arises.
Shooting technique is a vital aspect of soccer training for a goal-scorer. When shooting toward the opposition goal, a soccer striker must plant her foot directly next to the ball with the toes pointing toward the target. The ball should be contacted with the knee over the ball and the follow-through should point at the target. Practice technique by incorporating plenty of repetitions. Have a player feed you 20 to 30 balls inside the 18-yard area and practice taking a touch and shooting on goal. Perform this drill from outside the left goal post, central to the goal and outside the right goal post. A good distance to practice shooting on goal is 10 to 15 yards away.
Whether you are shooting for power or accuracy will determine which surface of the foot you use to shoot the ball. When shooting for power, the toes should be pointing down and the laces of the foot used to powerfully propel the ball toward the opposition goal. When shooting for accuracy, use the side of your foot to contact the ball, with the follow-through pointing to the target. Have a player roll a ball to you and call as it arrives ¡°power¡± or ¡°accuracy.¡± This will teach you to make decisions quickly. Practice plenty of repetitions of both.
A soccer striker must be able to lose defenders in short spaces to open up an opportunity to score a goal. Forwards should practice creating space by playing one-on-one, or two-on-one attacking drills. Use the 18-yard area as the boundaries and practice running to near post or far post, as well as checking back to ball to lose a defender.
Shooting drills that involve plenty of repetitions ending in a shot on goal should be used regularly as part of a soccer training regime for a striker. Examples of drills a soccer striker can use include balls being rolled from the side of the penalty box with the striker taking a touch and releasing a shot on goal. Adding defensive pressure is a big help to soccer training for a striker. Defensive pressure allows you to develop a feel for when to shoot early or when to take your first touch away from the defender.

The Average Speed of a Basketball Player

Successful basketball results from a combination of several skills, including speed, conditioning and athleticism. As a result, coaches and scouts test speed using a series of assessments such as the 40-yard dash, agility drills, vertical jump and the mile run. These assessments test your average speed, agility, power and endurance. The guards are the smallest and leanest players with the most speed and agility, while the centers are the largest players with the slowest times.
The 40-yard dash is the most common speed assessment used in sports. It combines explosive speed used during the start along with absolute speed for running a fast time. An average college basketball player runs the 40-yard dash in about 4.81 seconds.
The agility drill tests your ability to quickly accelerate and decelerate while changing directions. An average college basketball player performs the agility drill in about 8.95 seconds.
The mile run tests overall conditioning, endurance and fitness levels. An average college basketball player completes the mile run in five minutes, 40 seconds.
While most speed tests display horizontal displacement, the vertical jump test is used to display vertical speed and overall lower body power potential. An average college basketball player has a vertical jump of about 28 inches.