Page 6 - Sports Facts

Why do Japanese Sumo match referees carry swords in their belts? The answer is gruesome!


Sumo wrestling is a sport taken very seriously in Japan. One only has to look at the uniform of the gyoji (the referee) to get an idea of how seriously the outcome of a match is viewed. The uniform also indicates the ranking of the gyoji.

The gyoji visibly carries a traditionally made Japanese sword with a short blade (called a tantō) in his belt. These swords were also worn by the samurai class of feudal Japan. The blade is single- or double-edged, with a length between 6 and 12 inches.

The reason the gyoji carries this sword is to show he understands the seriousness of the decisions he has to make to fairly judge who the winner of a bout will be.

It also shows his willingness to commit seppuku if he makes a mistake! When translated, seppukumeans "stomach cutting," and it is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. The ritual suicide, meant to be performed in front of spectators, consists of plunging the tantō into the abdomen and slicing from left to right. Talk about a blood sport!

Thankfully, these days if a gyoji's decision about the match outcome is overturned by the shimpan, he is just expected to turn in his resignation as a gesture of apology for his terrible mistake.

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Runners can still get a false start AFTER the gun fires! Find out how!


"Jumping the gun" is a big problem for competition runners that could end their big meet with a disqualification. Cheating isn't accepted on any level, though it technically could be possible to cheat on accident—by being super human!

A false start is defined as a runner leaving the starting block before the starting gun sounds, or if they start in less than one-tenth of a second. Though one-tenth of a second after the gun is technically part of the race, research has found that it isn't possible for a human to have a reaction time faster than that. Starting that fast is considered anticipating the gun and, thus, cheating.

If you do jump the gun a bit, it isn't the end of the world. Runners are allowed one false start at no penalty under current international rules, but a second one will result in a disqualification.

False starts are detected by ReacTime, a device that sits on the back of a starting block that is connected to a main computer. The device detects the pressure of the athletes foot and starts the time when the starting gun fires. The device measures the exerted and decreased pressure as a runner pushes off down to one-thousandth of a second. Nothing gets by these things!

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This NBA great turned out a truckload of money by not entering the draft early. Find out why!


If you were offered a multi-million dollar contract to play your favorite sport, chances are you'd take it in a heartbeat. That's the case with basketball superstar Tim Duncan—except he turned it down thanks to a very special promise to his late mother.

Duncan was born and raised in Christiansted, a small town on Saint Croix (a main island in the United States Virgin Islands). He was a star swimmer through his early teenage years and aimed to make the 1992 Olympic Games. However, after a hurricane destroyed the island's only Olympic-sized pool in 1989 he was forced to swim in the ocean and quickly lost his enthusiasm for swimming due to sharks. He turned to basketball.

His mother passed away right before his 14th birthday and made him promise to earn a college degree in her final days. Of course, he willingly accepted his mother's dying wish. He excelled at Wake Forest University and was named one of the most eligible NBA prospects in his sophomore season. He refused to enter the draft early, despite the league introducing a rookie salary cap the following year, costing him a lot of money.

He graduated with a college degree and made himself available for the 1997 NBA Draft where he was drafted first by the San Antonio Spurs.

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Some awesome lists!

The average annual salary of a professional NBA cheerleader is tiny. I couldn't believe how low it really is!


Just about everyone knows that NBA players make enough to get by, and then some. But what about the cheerleaders? How do they fare these days? Well, most of the cheerleaders have modest incomes. They are often paid on a per game basis, but that income is supplemented by making other appearances for public relations.

The most recent data available shows that cheerleaders are paid between $50 and $150 per game, with some exceptions. They are not all given a uniform wage; the exact pay depends upon the team. Generally, the more popular the team, the higher the pay. In other cases, cheerleaders make minimum wage, which varies from state to state.

Luckily for them, they actually earn more away from the court than they do while cheering at the games. Other perks include free tickets and parking and paid travel expenses. To boot, cheerleading can open doors for career advancement later in life. Hey, it worked out well for Paula Abdul.

Doubtless, for many cheerleaders it's not about the money. It's about living a dream. They get to dance, have a good time, keep the fans' and the teams' spirits up, and be seen by millions of people. That's a life dreamed of by many, and surely many cheerleaders feel fortunate to see it come true and get paid for it.

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How do you feel about sports teams being named after corporations? It is a growing trend that won't go away any time soon


Internationally it has become a growing trend to name sports teams after the corporations that sponsor them. This is not as acceptable in the American sports landscape, though. The American reaction to the New York Red Bulls naming their soccer team after the corporation, for example, received a mixed reaction from fans and media alike.

On an international scale there are various examples of teams named after corporations, like Bayer Leverkusen in Germany which is named after a firm that manufactures aspirin. PSV Eindhoven of Holland is named for Philips Electronics. Korea Professional Baseball has nine franchises nationwide and all teams are named after the companies or business conglomerates which own them. South Africa has a provincial rugby team named the Vodacom Bulls because they are sponsored by Vodacom, a cellular network provider. The same goes for the South African Cricket team, Chevrolet Warriors who are generously sponsored by the car manufacturer.

Sports teams sometimes sell their names to increase revenue for themselves. This is often frowned upon by some sports organisations. UEFA bans sponsors’ names to be used when addressing a team. It seems that the interest corporations are showing in sports teams is a growing trend and the reality is that corporations have been investing in, and promoting sports organizations for decades.

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