Though less celebrated, Ireland’s place in the sporting world is still an integral part of the country’s outsized contribution to western culture and civilization. The Emerald Isle has a modest but noteworthy record at the Olympics- 9 gold, 10 silver and 12 bronze medals. Swimmer Michelle Smith is her nation’s most decorated Olympian, taking three gold and a bronze at the 1996 games in Atlanta. But it’s the boxing category where Ireland punches above its weight- more than half
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Southern California in the 1960's- sun, surf, beach and of course, UCLA basketball. The Bruins go back to 1919 yet it was only during a short historic period in 1964-75 when they forged UCLA’s legacy as the NCAA’s winningest Division I men’s basketball team. Under the stewardship of legendary coach John Wooden, the school’s basketball squad ruled the court, racking up ten national titles in twelve consecutive seasons. Wooden joined UCLA in 1948, toting his “pyramid ofRead more
With some 1,000 miles of frozen landscape to conquer, Alaska’s annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is no ice-cream picnic. Few sporting events claim extreme weather as a fundamental racing challenge. For 8-15 days or more, humans and canine contend with nature’s arctic fury- blinding blizzards are common and gale force gusts can send wind chill temperatures to -100 F (-73 C). Mushers are known to experience hallucinations induced by dehydration and sleep deprivation.Read more
Hollywood released plenty of sports films over the decades but few managed to score an Oscar. Since 1929 when the annual prize gala debuted, 89 Best Picture awards were handed out and only three went to movies in the sports genre- (2004) Million Dollar Baby, (1981) Chariots of Fire, (1976) Rocky. Overall, 19 sports films won Oscars and 33 trophies were awarded. Boxing, with its familiar subject matter of grit and hardship, leads the category with 16 statuettes.Read more
A decade before they were reincarnated into the Wizards, the Washington Bullets drafted the two tallest and shortest players in NBA history and paired them for a season- other than providing for a colorful sideshow, the synergies failed to raise the team's octane. The 1970’s were the Bullets’ golden era- six division accolades, four conference titles, and the franchise’s first and only championship trophy in 1978. But a few years after reaching glory, the team settled into aRead more
AUTOMOTIVE March 25, 2007- The “Car of Tomorrow” is introduced at NASCAR’s Food City 500. The model is a 5th generation chassis intended to enhance vehicle safety following several deaths on the track, especially the 2001 fatal crash of Dale Earnhardt. The design is criticized for its boxy look and poor handling and is replaced in 2012 by a 6th generation model, which retains the safety enhancements but improves the outer features.
BASEBALL March 19, 1997- Major League Baseball announces a 5-year, $50 Million national deal with Pepsi. By becoming the sport’s official national sponsor, Pepsi receives the rights to use all of baseball’s trademarks and team logos for its marketing. Coca Cola prefers to market locally, keeping exclusive soft drink privileges at 24 of Baseball’s 28 national ball parks.
SOCCER March 21, 1987- Dutch soccer star Ruud Gullit moves from PSV Eindhoven to AC Milan when the latter's owner, Silvio Berlusconi, agrees to pay a record transfer fee of 18 Million Dutch guilders (UKP 6 Mil). Gullit would win the Ballon d’Or in 1987 and be named the World Soccer Player of The Year for 1987 and 1989.
BASKETBALL March 28, 1977- Marquette defeats North Carolina 67-59 at the men’s NCAA Division I basketball championship. Butch Lee is named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and later becomes the first Latin American-born athlete to join the NBA. To date, Marquette’s victory remains the Golden Eagles’ only national title.