Squash (Sport)

If you like to move around then squash is the game for you.

  • Squash is a racquet-and-ball sport that involves players hitting a ball at a wall in a confined space, and it is a game played as singles or doubles, with two or four players respectively.
  • The aim of a player in squash is to cause the opponent to fail to hit the ball into the marked boundaries before two floor bounces; and a game will generally last up to 40 minutes as a player attempts to reach a score of 11 first.
  • Squash is typically played in an enclosed rectangular court with four walls and the standard dimensions of 6.4 to 9.75 metres (21 to 32 feet); and the sport is great exercise as it uses the cardiovascular system extensively, along with the legs and arms; though to prevent eye injury, goggles are typically worn.
  • The game of squash uses a hollow ball that is made from butyl rubber, and is generally from 39.5 to 40.5 millimetres (1.56 to 1.59 inches) in diameter and weighs 23 to 25 grams (0.81 to 0.88 ounces).
  • ‘Squash rackets’ was the original name of the sport of squash, and it was a variation of the game of rackets, which used a hard ball; and the pastime was born in about 1830, in the Harrow School of London, in England, when a perforated hard racket ball was used in a game of rackets and proved to make the game more interesting and energetic due to the more flexible and squashable ball.
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A Game of Squash
Image courtesy of Groton School/Flickr
  • Squash balls require warming up before a game for them to become bouncy, though depending on their composition, some balls are bouncier than others, making the game play faster or slower accordingly.
  • Modern squash racquets are typically a flat egg shape with a pointed end toward the handle, and are generally lighter than tennis racquets at 90 to 175 grams (3 to 6 ounces).
  • Due to the small playing space, interference (getting in an opponent’s way) in squash is common and typically results in a replay when appealed, although a referee may make other calls dependent on intent and the play of the game.
  • Squash is a rapidly growing sport, and increased by 82% from 2007 to 2011 in the USA; and in 2009, almost 50,000 courts in 188 countries were recognised; while in 2016, Egypt tended to dominate the competitive squash scene.
  • As of 2016, squash was yet to be incorporated in the Olympic Games program, even though it has been considered for inclusion for a number of years; however, it has been integrated into both the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games since 1998.
Bibliography:
About Squash, 2015, Squash Revolution, http://www.squashrevolution.com/about-squash.html
Nair D, Squash or Tennis, Which One is the Harder Sport?, Racquet Social, http://racquetsocial.com/squash-or-tennis-which-one-is-the-harder-sport/
Squash (Sport), 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squash_(sport)
Wallbutton T, World Squash Federation One Hundred and Forty Years of Squash, n.d, World Squash Federation, http://www.worldsquash.org/ws/wsf-information/squash-history/140-years-of-squash

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Field Hockey

Take a shot on the attack with some field hockey.

  • Field hockey is a sport consisting of two teams of eleven players each, who use sticks in the shape of a J, to hit a small, spherical ball into a goal.
  • ‘Field hockey’ is also known simply as ‘hockey’, especially in countries where ice hockey, the other main hockey variant, is not as common.
  • The flat or ‘face’ side of a hockey stick is used to hit or pass the ball in hockey, although the edge of the stick may also be used in a somewhat restrained manner; and unless you are the goalkeeper, no use of body parts is permitted.
  • Field hockey is typically played on a rectangular field with dimensions of 91.4 by 55 metres (100 by 60 yards), and the field is usually made of grass; typically synthetic, especially in professional competitions, where it has been in use since the 1970s.
  • Stick-and-ball games similar to hockey were played among many ancient civilisations, including those from Egypt, Persia, China, Greece, Ethiopa and Mesoamerica.
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A Game of Field Hockey
Image courtesy of David Caleb/Flickr
  • Field hockey is thought to have been played in its modern form around the mid to late 1700s in schools; with the first club formed by 1840 in Blackheath, London, in combination with a football club, which was later restructured in the early 1860s, to eventually become a separate organisation.
  • A game of field hockey will generally last four quarters of fifteen minutes each, though some games may be played under the old rules of two 35 minute halves.
  • The first Hockey Association for field hockey was established in 1876 in the United Kingdom, though it was disbanded six years later, however, it was recreated soon after in 1886.
  • In field hockey, the ball is typically made of heavy duty plastic and is often white, with a diameter of approximately 7.3 cm (2.87 inches), often resembling an over-sized golf ball; and during play, hitting the ball too high can be dangerous, and as such, dangerous swings are usually fouled.
  • The first Olympic tournament of field hockey was in the 1908 London Olympics, and it became a permanent event in 1928.
Bibliography:
‘The Blackheath Hockey Club’ Est: 1861, 2016, Pitch Hero, http://www.blackheath.co.uk/a/history-32741.html?page=1
Field Hockey, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_hockey
History, 2015, Olympics, https://www.olympic.org/hockey-equipment-and-history
History of Hockey, 2016, International Hockey Federation, http://www.fih.ch/hockey-basics/history/
History of Hockey, n.d, England Hockey, http://www.englandhockey.co.uk/page.asp?section=1147

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Slacklining

Slacking off while slacklining is not the way to go.

  • Slacklining is the sport of moving from one end of a slightly loose textile band situated above the ground, to the other, usually by walking, and it requires significant balancing skills, typically with arm movements to help keep balance.
  • The band or webbing used for slacklining is typically long, thin and narrow, usually with a width of 2.5 to 3.5 centimetres (1 to 1.4 inches), though sometimes it is wider.
  • The material used to make slackline webbing, or ‘belts’ as they are also called, is generally polyester, nylon, polypropylene or polyamide.
  • While slacklining has its history in tightrope walking, which it is very much alike, the modern sport evokes an entirely new set of skills and balance techniques.
  • In slacklining, the less tension in the slackline, the more difficult it is to keep balance on, due to sway and greater sagging under the weight of a person.
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Slacklining
Image courtesy of Stanton Cady/Flickr
  • Modern slacklining was invented in 1979 by Adam Grosowsky and Jeff Ellington, in the Yosemite Valley of the United States.
  • Trees are commonly used to tie a slackline between, especially for casual slacklining, and the webbing sits off the ground, while the height from the ground can vary, as long as it does not touch it when a person’s weight is applied.
  • There are four main types of slacklining variations: waterlining – over water, highlining – over a significant height off the ground, longlining –  over a long distance, and tricklining – doing tricks on the slackline, though other variations also exist.
  • As of 2016, the longest slackline walk was 1020 metres (3346 feet), the record set on 19 April 2016 in Aiglun, France by Nathan Paulin from France, and Danny Menšík from the Czech Republic.
  • Slacklining has grown to be a relatively popular sport, especially in Europe, and it has garnered enough interest now, that professional competitions are held annually.
Bibliography:
Bryant A, Above the Lawn, Walking the Line, 2006, The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/08/travel/escapes/08slack.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all&
First Steps, 2014, Landcruising, http://www.landcruising-slacklines.com/en/knowledge/first-steps
The History of Slacklining, 2014, Landcruising, http://www.landcruising-slacklines.com/en/knowledge/history
Know How – History, 2015, Slackline Tools, http://www.slackline-tools.com/know-how/history/
Slacklining, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slacklining

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FIFA World Cup

“All in One Rhythm” – motto of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

  • The FIFA World Cup is a soccer (association football) competition open to countries worldwide, that is held every four years and organised by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
  • Over 200 teams from various countries compete against each other in the three years prior to the month long FIFA World Cup, and from those teams, 32 are selected to play in the World Cup.
  • The first FIFA World Cup tournament began on the 13 July, 1930 in Uruguay, South America, and was established by the then FIFA president Jules Rimet, so that there was a soccer competition outside the Olympic Games, but the number of countries participating from Europe was low, due to the location and the effort and time required to travel to South America.
  • The champion of the FIFA World Cup is determined by 32 teams competing against each other in round-robin style tournaments in groups of four, with the top two teams of each group advancing to a round of knockout style tournaments, and if a team is successful in that round, they move on to a series of finals, and eventually the grand final, where the winners take home millions of dollars in prize money and a replica of the trophy.
  • The only team to have competed in every FIFA World Cup has been the Brazilian team, which has won more than any other, with five wins to their name up until 2010, with Italy close behind with four wins.
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2010 FIFA World Cup – Mexico vs South Africa
Image courtesy of Celso FLORES/Flickr
  • The FIFA World Cup has been cancelled twice, due to World War II, in 1942 and 1946.
  • Originally, the FIFA World Cup had 16 teams compete against each other, but this number rose to 24 in 1982 and to 32 in 1998, although there has been talk of increasing the number to 40.
  • The ‘FIFA World Cup’ is also known as the ‘World Cup’, and up until 2010, there had only been eight winning countries in the nineteen World Cup tournaments.
  • The original FIFA World Cup trophy that was named after the founder and was called the ‘Jules Rimet Trophy’, was stolen in 1983 and never found, after it was given to Brazil to keep in 1970 for their third win, which led to a new trophy design in 1974, which is 36 centimetres (14.2 inches) in height, 6.2 kilograms (13.6 pounds) in weight and is made of 18 carat solid gold.
  • The FIFA World Cup is the most popularly watched sporting event in the world, and has more viewers than the Olympic Games, with a ninth of the world’s population watching the grand final in 2006.
Bibliography:
Bryla M, FIFA World Cup History, 2013, EyeSeeData, http://eyeseedata.com/fifa-world-cup-history/
FIFA World Cup, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIFA_World_Cup

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Marathons

Huff Puff Huff Puff

  • Marathons are a long distance sport that involve running a typical 42.195km (26.22 mile) track that is normally on a road or path.
  • Hundreds of marathon events are held around the world every year, and many encourage participants of all ages, with shorter courses and fun activities.
  • Marathons were part of the very first modern Olympics in 1896 in Athens and have been included in the programme ever since.
  • Marathons have their origin in a 490 BC Greek legend of Pheidippides, a messenger of the Greeks, who is believed to have run many miles to deliver a message from the battlefield at Marathon, even though the story is said to be inaccurate.
  • Marathons were created when the first modern Olympic games committee wanted another Greek derived event and the idea of a marathon was suggested by Michel Breál.

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Marathon
Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid/Free Digital Photos
  • The male marathon Olympic event is traditionally the last event in the Olympic Games, before the closing ceremony, and sometimes included as part of the final ceremony.
  • Marathons often have disabled participants that race in wheel chairs, who usually start the race prior to anyone else.
  • Marathoners normally don’t run marathons to win, but instead try for personal bests or to complete the race.
  • People can store enough energy from carbohydrates for about 30 km (18.6 miles) of running, and when marathon runners use up this quick burning energy, they are said to have ‘hit the wall’ as their energy has to be derived from slow burning fat, so often the runner will suddenly feel extremely fatigued, and will find it difficult to keep running.
  • Marathon participants are recommended to train regularly before a marathon, with a significant amount of running each week over a five or sixth month period.
Bibliography:
Marathon, 2013, Wikipedia, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marathon>

Swimming

Splash, Splash, Splash

  • Swimming has a long recorded history over thousands of years, with early cave drawings, written references, and mosaic and clay work depicting the sport.
  • Swimming events have been included in the Olympic Games since the first modern Olympics in 1896 in Athens.
  • Although swimming’s popularity grew in the 1800s, the first book about swimming was published in 1538, written by German Professor, Nicolas Wynman.
  • The Japanese have the earliest record of swimming competitions, dated 36 BC.
  • There are four typical styles of swimming called freestyle or front crawl which has its origins in Native America, Pacific Islands and West Africa; breaststroke, the style most used in early British competitions; butterfly, a variant of breaststroke which came about in 1933; and backstroke.

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Swimmer
Image courtesy of Franky/ Free Digital Photos
  • Special swimming clothes are used for swimming, and they can be called ‘swimsuits’, ‘bathers’, ‘togs’, ‘swimming costumes’, ‘cossies’ and other names, depending on where you live, and they can include one piece suits; two piece, which are generally called ‘bikinis’; board shorts; swim or racing briefs, often known as ‘speedos’; as well as others.
  • The 20th century has seen many significant developments in swimming styles, and has included underwater studies of the various strokes, and the official recognition of butterfly as its own style in 1952.
  • The International Swimming Federation (FINA) was founded in 1908, and began keeping records on world record swimming results.
  • Swimming can  be dangerous in certain environments, such as in the ocean when rips and currents are present, or without proper knowledge and skill, and can be fatal, resulting in drowning.
  • Basic swimming and water safety skills have been included as part of the school curriculum in some countries around the world, and many parents pay for their children to attend swimming lessons with recognised trainers outside of school hours.
Bibliography:
Swimming (Sport), 2013, Wikipedia, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swimming_(sport)>
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