Sports have been a part of human culture for millennia, and over the years, athletes have pushed the boundaries of what is possible, achieving some truly astounding feats. From the seemingly impossible to the outright bizarre, the world of sports is filled with stories that will amaze and inspire.
Discover the fascinating and unexpected side of sports with the Yoho sports app as we unveil 11 little-known facts that will leave you in awe. Get ready to impress your friends and family with your newfound knowledge at your next gathering.
- Michael Phelps holds the record for the most Olympic medals won by an individual, with a total of 28. With a total of 28 Olympic medals, including 23 golds, Phelps has accomplished a level of success that has earned him a place in the annals of sports history.
- If Phelps were a nation, he would rank 35th on the all-time Olympic gold medals list.
- He set a new record for most first-place finishes at any single Olympic by winning eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games.
- He set 39 swimming world records and holds 23 Guinness World Records.
- In 2004, a street in his hometown of Baltimore was renamed ‘The Michael Phelps Way’ as a testament to his achievements.
2. In 1999, Sunderland included a clause in Stefan Schwarz’s contract stating that he would not be able to play if he were to go into space. The clause was added as a precautionary measure, as Schwarz’s agent had a seat on one of the first planned commercial space flights and the team wanted to protect their investment. Though it may seem like a joke, it highlights the futuristic possibilities and concerns present in the world of sports at the time.
3. In 1950, India was forced to withdraw from the World Cup due to FIFA’s ban on playing barefoot.
For years, sports fans have been led to believe that India withdrew from the 1950 World Cup due to either a ban on playing barefoot or a lack of funds. But, the truth is far from it. India’s All India Football Federation (AIFF) downplayed the importance of the tournament, citing “disagreements over team selection, and insufficient practice time.” as the official reason for withdrawal. Despite earning an automatic spot after other Asian countries withdrew, the AIFF considered the Olympics to be the ultimate goal for Indian football.
4. Golf is the first, and currently the only, sport to be played on the moon.
In 1971, astronaut Alan Shepard made history by becoming the first human to play golf on the lunar surface. The Apollo 14 commander, who was also an avid golfer, managed to sneak a club and two balls into space by modifying a standard 6-iron head of a Wilson golf club and attaching it to a rod used to scoop soil and rock samples. As he and fellow astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell explored the lunar surface, Shepard took his chance, hit two golf balls and made sports history.
5. Gaylord Perry, a MLB Hall of Fame pitcher, hit his first and only home run hours after the first lunar landing.
Gaylord Perry, known for his pitching skills on the diamond, accomplished a rare feat in baseball history. On the same day that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their historic landing on the moon, Perry hit his first and only home run in his MLB career. Despite his reputation for doctoring baseballs, Perry was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991.
6. The first live televised football match was broadcast in October 1946.
The Football League held a strong aversion to the idea of televising matches, believing it would deter fans from attending live games. However, the Athenian Football League made history by allowing the BBC to air the match between Barnet and Wealdstone on October 19th. Though only 20 minutes of the first half and 35 minutes of the second were shown, it marked the beginning of a new era for the sport and broadcast media.
7. Finland holds an annual National Sauna Tournament.
The World Sauna Championships, held annually in Finland from 1999 to 2010, tested the limits of human endurance in the sauna. The competition, which originated from informal sauna-sitting contests in Heinola, featured contestants from over 20 countries. However, the event met its demise in 2010 following the death of a finalist and near-death of another competitor, leading the organizers to discontinue the event. Despite the risks, the competition gained a cult following and even sparked offshoots in other countries, such as Sweden where Ari Petroff set a national record by staying in a sauna for five hours and 10 minutes.
8. In the Tour de France, if the leader needs to use the restroom, the entire group will stop or slow down.
The Tour de France is not only a grueling physical challenge, but also a test of sportsmanship and unwritten codes of conduct among riders. These traditions, passed down through generations of cyclists, serve to promote fair play and camaraderie on the road.
- If a tour passes through a rider’s hometown, the peloton (main pack of riders) slows down to allow them to take the lead.
- If the leader needs to use the restroom, the peloton slows down or stops to accommodate them.
- Riders are expected to refrain from attacking the leader or other contenders if they experience a crash or mechanical failure.
- Race leaders and experienced riders can call for a neutralization or slow-down if conditions are deemed dangerous.
9. There is a 150-year-old oak tree located at the center of a soccer field in Estonia.
The 150-year-old Orissaare tree stands tall in the middle of an Estonian soccer pitch, voted European Tree of the Year in 2015 and surviving even a Soviet tractor’s attempt to cut it down. The tree offers shade for players and has become a unique feature for passing the ball.
10. Sheep Counting is an official sport in Australia.
The contest, where participants try to count as many sheep as possible, has been an official sport in Australia since 2002. In the inaugural competition, Peter Desailly was the winner by correctly counting 277 sheep. The rules are simple, with 400 sheep running past 10 competitors, who must count them as accurately as possible. Strange yet beloved, Sheep Counting is a quirky addition to Australia’s sporting calendar.
11. In 1970, a FIFA World Cup qualifying match between El Salvador and Honduras coincided with a brief war between the two countries.
A violent match between the countries in June 1969 led to diplomatic ties being dissolved and 11,700 Salvadorans fleeing Honduras. El Salvador won the decisive third match on July 14, 1969, and the war began the same day. Though the war lasted only 4 days, a peace settlement wasn’t reached for over a decade.
Discovering intriguing sports trivia is a staple of sports fandom. These unique and unexpected facts not only entertain, but also serve as great conversation starters when we can finally gather with friends and fellow fans again.