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Sports Then and Now


6 Greatest Sports Bets of All Time

Posted on September 01, 2014 by Kimberly Powell
Tom Brady's safety to open the scoring in Super Bowl XLVI proved to be worth $50,000 to one sports gambler.

Tom Brady’s safety to open the scoring in Super Bowl XLVI proved to be worth $50,000 to one sports gambler.

Thousand Dollar Wager on Safety as First Score of Super Bowl XLVI

In American football, the ever elusive ‘safeties’ have only ever been achieved seven times throughout its history. This is where the ball carrier is tackled down in his own end zone; the ball becomes dead in the end zone, or the offense commits a foul in its own end zone. One American still decided to make a bet and a $1000 one at that. With the odds stacking up against him at 50-1 from the MGM Grand sports book, his chances looked bleak. The better knew his stuff, as Tom Brady of the New England Patriots was called for intentional grounding in the end zone to account for the first points of the Super Bowl and making the lucky winner  $50k richer in one night.

Betting on Cardinals to Make and to Win 2011 World Series

On September 12, 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals were five games back from a wild card spot with just 15 games left to play. An unidentified St. Louis fan staked $250 on the Cardinals making the World Series at 500-1 odds. He obviously felt optimistic, as another $250 bet was put down on his team actually winning the World Series at 999-1 odds. The Cardinals blazed through the month of September, collecting win after win. By October, they had taken down the heavily favored Phillies and eventually defeated the Rangers in seven games to win the series. The pay-out was a huge $375,000. Read the rest of this entry →

4 Questions Raised by Michael Phelps’s Return to Olympic Competition

Posted on August 29, 2014 by Scott Huntington

Just when we had begun contemplating a summer Olympics without swimming veteran and champion Michael Phelps, we suddenly find we don’t have to.

He shocked everyone with the unexpected announcement that he would be stepping out of retirement to compete for gold once more.

Perhaps it’s because he truly missed being in the water: what some consider to be his natural element. Others think it could be the leader in him, as performances by other American swimmers leave much to be desired as of late.

michael phelps

As all eyes turn to Brazil, the host nation of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, there are some questions that many would like to see answered by and of Phelps before he hits the water in a couple of years’ time.

Why did he Leave Retirement?

“I missed being in the water,” said Phelps of his absence. “And I missed those kinds of races.” Read the rest of this entry →

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American Horse Racing Through the Years

Posted on August 18, 2014 by Eva Thompson
The horse racing industry in the United States brings in over $26 billion each year.

The horse racing industry in the United States brings in over $26 billion each year.

Horse racing provides a full spectrum of entertainment unlike any other sport. Whether your horse wins or loses, spending a day at the races makes for a great afternoon or evening outdoors watching beautiful animals compete.

The Tradition of Horse Racing
Horse racing has been a long standing tradition among many cultures. The sport dates back all the way to 4500 BC among nomadic tribesmen in Central Asia, who first domesticated horses. Archeological records reveal that the Ancient Greeks, Syrians, Babylonians, and Egyptians also participated in horse racing to entertain the masses and honor outstanding horsemanship required for battles. Later horse racing became popular among British royalty and aristocracy where it received the nickname “Sport of Kings”.

These days, horse racing represents one of the only legal forms of gambling around the world, including Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, the United States, South America, the Middle East, and Australia. Read the rest of this entry →

Will Officials Really Increase Defensive Holding Calls During the Regular Season?

Posted on August 17, 2014 by Dean Hybl
New emphasis should reduce the ability of Richard Sherman to hold defenders downfield.

New emphasis should reduce the ability of Richard Sherman to hold receivers downfield.

After watching Richard Sherman and other “top” defensive backs manhandle receivers during the 2013 season while rarely being penalized, the NFL has made a point of emphasis for 2014 to crack down on defenders using their hands to keep receivers from getting into their routes.

So far in the preseason officials have been throwing flags like confetti during a parade, but it is not yet clear whether NFL Week 1 odds should be adjusted to account for the change.

There is no question that in recent years some of the top defensive players in the league have been able to skirt the rules originally created in the late 1970s to keep defensive backs like Hall of Famer Mel Blount from completely dominating the game.

The 1978 rules to limit the ability of defenders to put hands on receivers were the first of a multitude of rules that have been created over the last 36 years that have helped increase offense within the game.

The impact in 1978 was immediate.

In 1977, only one quarterback, Joe Ferguson of the Buffalo Bills at 200.2 yards per game, averaged 200 yards passing per game and only Bob Griese (22) and Ken Stabler (20) had 20 or more touchdown passes.

The 1978 season did also see the addition of two more games, but regardless, the increase in passing offense was quite obvious. Fran Tarkenton led the league averaging 216 passing yards per game and six quarterbacks averaged 200 or more yards per game. In addition, Terry Bradshaw tossed 28 touchdown passes and four others eclipsed 20 touchdown passes.

Of course, that was just the start of the offensive explosion in the NFL. In 1979 Dan Fouts passed for 4,082 yards (255 per game) and 10 eclipsed 200 yards passing per contest.

In 1981 Fouts became the first quarterback in NFL history to average 300 yards per game and half of the teams in the NFL (14 of 28) had a starting quarterback who averaged more than 200 yards per game. Fouts and Steve Bartkowski of the Atlanta Falcons passed for at least 30 touchdowns and 11 quarterbacks had 20 or more touchdown passes.

Those numbers seem a bit pedestrian compared to the current game when 26 of 32 teams had a starting quarterback passing for more than 200 yards per game in 2013, but were important in the evolution of the game.

Surprisingly, even with such prolific offense, some defenses have still been able to have an impact. That was certainly the case in 2013 when the Seattle Seahawks allowed opponents only 14.4 points per contest.

They were especially dominant in the playoffs when they held both the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers nearly 10 points below their season averages to reach the Super Bowl. Read the rest of this entry →

Serious Dedication: An Ode to Infamous Sports Fans

Posted on August 17, 2014 by Brooke Chaplan
For years Rollen Stewart and his rainbow wig were fixtures at major sporting events.

For years Rollen Stewart and his rainbow wig were fixtures at major sporting events.

You know a sports fan is dedicated to the team when they are more famous than the actual athletes they support. Here are 8 famous fans from history, and the events that placed them in the unofficial fan hall of fame.

1. He Wasn’t Supposed to Know!

In 1977, Bobby Murcer took to the plate in an attempt to hit a home run for a young, terminally ill fan—Scott Crull. Not only did Murcer bat an impressive 2 homers, but he dedicated them to young Scott on national television. Unfortunately, Crull hadn’t been told he was dying yet. Oops!

2. John 3:16

Some sports fans are there to support the team, others to support their…religion? Rollen Stewart, commonly called “Rainbow Man” thanks to the rainbow wig he liked to wear around, did just that. Along with his wig he wore a shirt with the words “Believe in Christ.”

He didn’t discriminate between sports, showing up at all major sporting events in the 70s and 80s including the Super Bowl, Olympics, World Series, and the World Cup. Unfortunately, he found himself in jail serving three life sentences for holding a maid hostage in 1992.

3. The Loyal Dictator

Apparently North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong Il, had his own personal library of videos of every game Michael Jordan played. He was an avid Bull’s fan, and reportedly said he thought the youths and workers in his own country should be made to play more basketball. Read the rest of this entry →

Baseball Salaries Through the Years

Posted on August 15, 2014 by Felix Senett

 

Salaries in baseball, as in all sports, has exploded over the last 30 years.

Salaries in baseball, as in all sports, has exploded over the last 30 years.

Baseball as with other major sports in the US, has seen a huge rise in salaries over the last 100 years. This may come as no surprise to most, as you would expect salaries to rise with inflation, but sports stars’ salaries has risen far beyond this.

One man has conducted a study into these salaries over the years, with interesting conclusions. Professor Michael Haupert, who is the professor of economics at Wisconsin La Crosse, found some interesting patterns and trends, but the most surprising thing seems to be the lack of full data available to great a comprehensive report.

Despite financial information being more freely and readily available, there still seems to be a lack of recorded salaries on file for a lot of major league players. Hauperts study takes into account only 50% of players who have played at least one major league baseball game since 1874.

The study only takes into account actual salary details, excluding any bonuses. Even without taking any additional bonus earnings into account, it’s clear to see from Haupert’s study that earnings have increased exponentially since 1874.

The highest salary recorded for a player at time was $2,000. Of course this was still a large salary almost 150 years ago, but when compared with inflation, it works out as an annual salary of just over $41,000. This is a fairly modest earning for anyone, never mind top players today, like Alex Rodriguez who earned a whopping $29 million in 2013. Alex Rodriguez’ last annual salary would have been worth over $1 million in 1874 – a far cry from Fergus Malone’s salary at the time. In essence, Alex Rodriguez earned more per plate – $56,000 this year – than Malone did all year in 1874 (with calculated inflation).

Even Joe Dimaggio’s huge 1949 earnings of $100,000 is still worth under $1 million in today’s money. This means that even in the last 60 years, the salaries of major league baseball players has multiplied by over 300%. This is a huge rise not seen in any other profession outside of major league sports. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Rod Carew: Hitting Machine
      July 5, 2014 | 3:42 pm
      Rod Carew

      Rod Carew

      With the Major League All-Star Game being played this year in Minnesota, we recognize as the July Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month one of the best hitters of the last half a century who was named to 18 straight All-Star teams, including in each of his 12 seasons with the Twins.

      Few have been as good at the craft of hitting a baseball as Rod Carew. During 19 major league seasons, Carew won seven batting titles and hit .330 or better ten times.

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