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The History of Performance-Enhancing Drugs 0

Posted on April 18, 2014 by Scott Huntington

Just as modern medicine has evolved over the years, so too have performance-enhancing drugs. Although they have only come into the spotlight in recent times, the practice of using drugs to gain an advantage over an opponent is older than Rome. These days, the efforts of professional athletes to cheat has caused irreparable harm to the record books of some major sports, most notably Major League Baseball. So as we debate about whether or not steroid-users should get into the Hall of Fame, or what good the next policy will do regarding illegal substances, we should first look back at how performance-enhancing drugs have come this far.

Ancient Greece and Rome

The beginning of performance-enhancing drugs is almost the same as the beginning of organized sports. In ancient Greece, some of the earliest Olympians used abnormal substances in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage. Their drug of choice would either be plant seeds or extracts of mushrooms. Later in Rome, gladiators were known to have turned to drugs. It’s difficult to blame them, but gladiators would dope for various reasons, from dulling pain to creating a bloodier spectacle for viewers.

The Dangerous History of Performance-Enhancing Drugs

knud-jensen

While cheating and gaining an unfair advantage are terrible actions for an athlete to take, the worst aspect of performance-enhancing drugs is that they can cause extreme harm to the user. Read the rest of this entry →

25th Anniversary of the Hillsborough Stadium Disaster 0

Posted on April 18, 2014 by Scott Huntington

Earlier this week marked the 25th anniversary of the worst stadium-related disaster in English sports. On April 15, 1989, the Hillsborough Stadium disaster occurred during an FA Cup semi-final match between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium. The disaster resulted in the deaths of 96 people, who were honored at a ceremony at Anfield Stadium, the home of Liverpool Football Club. While Liverpool currently sits atop the English Premier League, this week serves as a period to remember the 96 people lost at Hillsborough Stadium 25 years ago.

hillsborough_stadium_disaster_17_october_2011

The Tragedy

25 years ago, the FA committee selected Hillsborough Stadium as the neutral site for the FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. At that time, most English stadiums included high, steel fencing around the pitch in order to prohibit any rushing of the pitch, either friendly or hostile. Standing room for supporters was provided just beyond the fence. On the day of the disaster, only one terminal was opened for Liverpool fans to enter through, as a precaution to keep them separated from the Nottingham Forest fans. Massive overcrowding made the open terminal dangerous to both those who were attempting to get into the match and those who were being turned back for not having a ticket. In order to avoid injuries in the original entryway, police decided to open an exit gate that was designed to service departing fans.

The exit gate led to a narrow pathway to which fans flocked when it opened. Unfortunately for many fans, the narrow pathway led to the steel fence. As thousands of fans entered, many of them were pressed up against one another and a human crush formed. The police that were supposed to be stationed at the entrance of the gate should have cut off the flow of fans and direct them to another way in, but there were no policemen stationed outside the gate for unknown reasons.

Read the rest of this entry →

First-Round Draft Woes of the Raiders over Past Ten Years 0

Posted on April 08, 2014 by Scott Huntington

The news that Johnny Manziel has recently been on a two-day visit with the Oakland Raiders has raised some eyebrows around the NFL. It has also brought back memories of some of the Raiders’ terrible first-round draft picks. And with the likes of JaMarcus Russell in Oakland’s recent history, it’s easy to wonder if Johnny Football with be the Raiders’ next big bust. No matter what happens with Manziel, Oakland won’t be rid of its terrible draft record anytime soon, so let’s look at who the Raiders picked first over the last ten drafts and who they looked over.

JaMarcus-Russell

2013: D.J. Hayden

Although it’s far too early to decide what sort of player Hayden will ultimately turn out to be, it’s worth noting that he is one of only three players on an NFL roster out of the eight first-round picks that the Raiders have had over the past ten years. Another note that may be of importance is that Sheldon Richardson was taken directly after Hayden. Richardson’s impressive rookie campaign points in the direction of potential dominance in the future, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Read the rest of this entry →

Hoyt Wilhem: Knuckleball Workhorse 0

Posted on April 07, 2014 by Dean Hybl

The April Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was 29-years-old when he made his major league debut, but still managed to pitch for 21 years and become the first pitcher in MLB history to appear in more than 1,000 games.

Hoyt Wilhelm made his professional baseball debut as a 19-year-old in 1942, but after serving in World War II (earning a Purple Heart during the Battle of the Bulge) and then spending five years in the minor leagues it wasn’t until 10 years later that he would make his major league debut. Read the rest of this entry →

40 Years Ago: Hank Aaron Becomes Baseball’s Home Run King 0

Posted on April 07, 2014 by Dean Hybl
It was 36 years ago this week that Hank Aaron became the all-time home run king.

It was 40 years ago that Hank Aaron became the all-time home run king.

Given how much emphasis sports put on championships, it may seem a little strange that the most significant home run in Major League Baseball history was not hit during the month of October, but instead was struck in early April by an aging player on a team that wouldn’t come close to reaching the postseason.

Such was the case 40 years ago, on April 8, 1974, when Hank Aaron forever cemented a place for himself in baseball lore with his record breaking 715th home run.

Every die-hard sports fan has a number of moments that are forever etched in their subconscious memory – to the point that even years after the fact they can recall not just the special moment, but also where they were and what they were doing at the time.

Though I was only six-years old, the night when Aaron set the home run record is one of those moments for me.

My family was paying special attention to the record because we had family friends who were from Atlanta and thus big fans of Aaron and the Braves. “Hammerin’ Hank” had tied the record during the season opener in Cincinnati and there seemed to be little doubt that he was going to set the record during the home opener, which was being shown on national television by ABC. However, for a while there was some doubt whether we would be able to see it.

It was a stormy Monday night in my hometown of Keysville, Virginia, thanks to a powerful early spring thunderstorm that brought lightning, thunder and heavy rains. There was no such thing as cable television in our town in 1974 and because we were about 75 miles from the closest television station, even with having an antenna on the roof we never really had crystal clear reception. The general practice at that time was also to unplug the television during electrical storms so that the TV wouldn’t get zapped. Read the rest of this entry →

The History of Tailgating 0

Posted on April 02, 2014 by Scott Huntington

Tailgating has become such an integral part of American sports that it’s hard to imagine a time without hours of grilling, drinking and socializing before a game. Nowadays, tailgating is prevalent in nearly every major sporting event, but it wasn’t always a foregone conclusion that fans would meet and party before every match, game or contest. Tailgating has come a long way from its inception: pioneers of the act led the way to portable grills, booming stereos, cold beer and casual games. So let’s look at how tailgating came about and how it has become so popular.

First Instance

battle-of-bull-run-posterBelieve it or not, tailgating didn’t have anything to do with sports in the very beginning. In fact, the first-known instance of tailgating occurred during a much more serious event in American history than any football or baseball game. In 1861, the Battle of Bull Run marked an historical event in both the Civil War and the act of tailgating. Onlookers enjoyed picnic-style meals while cheering on soldiers during the battle. This marked the inaugural tailgate party, however strange it may seem.

Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Hoyt Wilhem: Knuckleball Workhorse
      April 7, 2014 | 8:51 pm

      The April Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was 29-years-old when he made his major league debut, but still managed to pitch for 21 years and become the first pitcher in MLB history to appear in more than 1,000 games.

      Hoyt Wilhelm made his professional baseball debut as a 19-year-old in 1942, but after serving in World War II (earning a Purple Heart during the Battle of the Bulge) and then spending five years in the minor leagues it wasn’t until 10 years later that he would make his major league debut.

      Read more »

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