Premier Education

Weird and wonderful sports facts

A summer of sport has well and truly begun. While you’re likely to get swept up in the nation’s hopeful anticipation and enjoy watching some sport, you and your family may also feel inspired to try something new.

Whether you like the edge-of-your-seat excitement of football, sun-soaked volleyball or prefer spectating the more civilised tennis (with a side of strawberries, of course), there’s nothing quite like major tournaments to bring countries together in support. 

National sport events are a great way to bring people together.

But if like us, your children, or pupils have an inquiring mind, they may find themselves longing for some interesting facts around sport! In this fun article, we take a look at some of the most unusual and fascinating sports facts from across the world. We hope you enjoy sharing them with your kids or class.

From the longest tennis match and an unusual rule in major league baseball to the only sport ever to have been played in space, there’s no end to intriguing snippets. Let’s kick off by looking at the history of sport.

There are so many sporting interesting facts.

How did sport begin?

It’s probably no surprise to learn that more formalised sport began in Greece around 3,000 years ago, but even as early as 7000 BCE there is evidence of physical activity which developed into sport. In these times, physical prowess was used to judge whether someone was fit enough to fight in a war, for example.

We know that one of the earliest sports practised was wrestling. Famous cave paintings from France appear to show wrestlers in action, and were painted 15,300 years ago.

The first Olympic Games were held in 776 BCE. Initially just a sprinting event, the games evolved to include more and more sports such as boxing, wrestling, chariot racing and javelin throwing. Every four years and at a different host city each time, we enjoy this worldwide celebration of sporting achievement.

Athletes do all sorts of weird and wonderful things to succeed.

What is the most dangerous sport?

Plenty of sports carry a risk, but for thrill-seekers, that’s what attracts them. In 2014 a Cambridge University Professor carried out a study and concluded that mountaineering was the most dangerous sport, with a risk of death of around 1 percent per climb.

However, there are many day-to-day sports that many of us play which have a high risk of injury. Contact sports such as basketball, American football, soccer, rugby and hockey all have high instances of injuries thanks to their fast-pace and risk of collisions.

But don’t let that put you off! Following the rules and ensuring you wear safety equipment (shin pads, for example) all help reduce risk of injury as does playing with care.

A game of rugby can see a lot of injuries.

What is the most popular sport in the world?

With over 4 billion fans worldwide, football is considered to be the most popular sport in the world. Thanks to its accessibility and highly publicised players, people of all ages play and support football and enjoy the sense of participation it brings.

Keep reading for some fantastic football facts.

Soccer is popular across all age groups.

What is the hardest sport?

Of course, all sports require an element of skill and fitness, but which ones are really the toughest? The intensity of boxing often results in it being considered one of the hardest sports. Not only do you have to be incredibly fit and powerful, but also nimble to dodge those punches!

Did you know…?

Let’s get onto some more cool facts first up, football!

We love finding out unusual sports facts.

We love finding out unusual sports facts.

  1. We have a lot of pretty old football clubs here in Great Britain, but the oldest is without doubt Sheffield FC, which was founded in 1857.
  2. You only have to play football for a few minutes to realise just how much running around is needed to help your team score a goal. In fact, during a full-length match, a midfielder can expect to run approximately seven miles and the referee runs even further!
  3. Scoring an early goal is always a huge benefit for any team, but how’s this for fast: in Uruguay in 2004, a goal was scored an incredible 2.8 seconds after kick-off.
  4. Football, or soccer, isn’t quite as popular in the USA as it is here in the UK. In fact, it was illegal in the state of Mississippi until 1991.
  5. Successful footballers are idolised all over the world, and one of the biggest names in football is Pelé. He is the only player to have been a part of three different World Cup winning teams what an achievement!
A game of soccer can easily be played, all you need is a ball!

Tennis facts

  1. It’s not unusual for tennis matches to last for several hours, but the longest tennis match was a whopping 11 hours and five minutes! It was played at Wimbledon in 2010 between John Isner and Nicolar Mahut.
  2. We’re used to seeing yellow tennis balls they are highly visible and ideal for both players and spectators. However, they were only introduced in 1986.
  3. Grass courts are carefully maintained to make sure they provide the optimum surface for play. However, did you know that until 1949 the grass was kept at 2 inches long that is, until a player was bitten by a snake! Now, the grass is kept at a conservative 8mm.
  4. Tennis rallies are hugely exciting to watch, and professional players can sometimes hit the ball numerous times before the point is won. However in 1984 a rally between Vicki Nelson and Jean Hepner lasted for 29 minutes before a point was won the world record for the longest rally ever. Phew!
  5. Pigeons can be a nuisance for tennis players who play on outside grass courts. However, Wimbledon has the perfect deterrent, a Harris’s Hawk called Rufus who is stationed there.
A tennis match can go on for hours so stamina is key!

Unusual facts

  1. Ever wondered how many dimples are on the average golf ball? It’s probably more than you think 336, and all must be perfectly symmetrical.
  2. We’re not sure how he managed it, but astronaut Alan Shepherd actually played golf on the moon in 1971 after smuggling a golf club and ball onto the NASA Apollo 14 mission to the moon.
  3. Now we know that tennis players at Wimbledon are subject to strict rules regarding outfit colour, but a lesser-known fact relates to major league baseball. Here, the umpire must wear black underwear just in case the worst happens and his trousers split!
  4. The Olympic rings aren’t just random, complementary colours. The yellow, green, red, black and blue were chosen as they are the five colours that appear in every flag in the world.
The Olympic Games is home to many world records.
  1. It’s hard to imagine a world where women aren’t able to compete in games alongside men, but they were only allowed to enter the Olympic Games in 1900.
  2. One of the most bizarre sports we’ve come across is held in Wales, and involves cycling underwater! Yes, the World Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling Championship exists, and is certainly not for those who dislike getting cold and wet!
  3. Many of us still have fond memories of London 2012, the last time the UK hosted the famous games. In fact, London is lucky enough to be the only city to have hosted the Olympics three times.
  4. Who knew a vegetable would be such a help when playing baseball? Babe Ruth would wear a chilled cabbage leaf under his cap to keep cool.
Whether it's tug of war or rugby, kids love getting active.
  1. In times gone by, sports equipment was somewhat different to what we’re used to today. For example, early golf balls were made from feathers and leather, and ice hockey pucks were made from frozen cow poo.
  2. Olympic gold medals are much sought-after, and often seen as the highlight of any athlete’s career. However, in the early days, winners received wreaths of laurel leaves. Nowadays the gold medals are made predominantly from silver.
  3. The tug of war may be viewed as a fun contest at fetes, but it actually used to be an Olympic event. Great Britain did pretty well too, winning two gold medals.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this round-up of some of our favourite sports facts. There really is never a dull moment in the sporting world, so why don’t you encourage your children, or class, to get involved? Whether indoor games appeal, outdoor sports, individual sports or team sports, there are so many to choose from.

Here at Premier Education, we offer a wide range of sports at our extracurricular clubs and holiday camps, as well as being part of our wraparound care sessions.