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Those hard-to-resist-Svengalis: Bela Karolyi

That Bela--alternately so jovial, so brutish! The image of Karolyi hoisting Kerri Strug to the champion's podium is one of the most ubiquitous images of the 1996 Olympics. Nadia Comaneci, Mary Lou Retton, et al. have defended him, but others--most notably Joan Ryan of Little Girls in Pretty Boxes fame--contend that his techniques are psychologically damaging.

A Slate profile circa the 2000 Sydney Olympics illuminates the shadows Ryan explores:

He sought younger and younger girls to train, and psychologically overwhelmed them. "I am going to turn their little minds around," he said. "The young ones are the greatest little suckers in the world. They will follow you no matter what." He called his methods "survival of the fittest" and "scorpions in a bottle." He constantly set the girls against each other, knowing that the survivors would be impervious to competition pressure.

"Bela is a great coach for two reasons," says Ryan. "First, he is an incredible motivator. He could get you to run through a wall. And second, he has no conscience when it comes to the damage done to these little girls. He says that he's the coach, and everything else—eating disorders, for example—is the parents' responsibility."

None of this can change the fact that as a doomed gymnast-child, I longed nightly to be teleported to Karolyi's Texas Valhalla. The groupthink operating in my little gym was powerful enough that I still have dreams that it's 95 degrees outside & my coach is guzzling a 32-oz something as he counts backwards while we hold our legs at an unfathomably obtuse angle. At least he didn't call us "pregnant goats"! And to all our former child athletes: who was your Bela?

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Watch These Surfers Crush Nantucket's 'Slurpee' Waves
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Instead of hunkering down with Netflix and hot chocolate during the East Coast’s recent cold snap, surfers Nick Hayden and Jamie Briard spent the first few days of January 2018 conquering icy waves in Nantucket, Massachusetts. The frothy swells resembled a frozen 7-Eleven Slurpee, so photographer Jonathan Nimerfroh, a friend of the athletes, grabbed his camera to capture the phenomenon, according to deMilked.

The freezing point for salt water is 28.4°F, but undulating ocean waves typically move too much for ice particles to form. At Nantucket’s Nobadeer Beach, however, conditions were just right for a thick layer of frost to form atop the water’s surface for several hours. Some of the slushy crests were even surfable before melting after about three hours, Nimerfroh told Live Science.

This is the second time Nimerfroh has photographed so-called “Slurpee waves." He captured a similar scene on February 27, 2015, telling The New York Times, “I saw these crazy half-frozen waves. Usually on a summer day you can hear the waves crashing, but it was absolutely silent. It was like I had earplugs in my ears.”

Check out Nimerfroh’s video of surfers enjoying the icy swell below.

[h/t deMilked]

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Why Is the University of Georgia's Mascot a Bulldog?
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Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

For licensing purposes and the all-important "aww" factor, collegiate football teams like their mascots—and few are as popular as Uga, the handsome bulldog of University of Georgia fame.

When Herman J. Stegeman took over as head coach in 1920, the team, which had previously been referred to as the Red and Black, became known as the Wildcats. Atlanta Journal sportswriter Morgan Blake took issue with the unoriginal moniker, pointing out that it was already shared by at least two other teams in the south—Kentucky State and Davidson.

"I had hoped that Georgia would adopt some original nickname that would stand out," Blake wrote, adding that, "The 'Georgia Bulldogs' would sound good, because there is a certain dignity about a bulldog as well as ferocity, and the name is not as common as 'Wildcats' and 'Tigers.' Yale is about the only team I recall right now that has the name."

One week after Blake's story ran, Cliff Wheatley of the Atlanta Constitution referred to Georgia as the Bulldogs several times in his recap of the team's tie at Virginia. The new nickname quickly caught on, and it wasn't long before the sidelines began to see a succession of canines offering their moral support. A fan named Warren Coleman took his bulldog, Mr. Angel, to games from 1944 to 1946; another bulldog, Butch, served as a mascot from 1947 to 1950 (before he was tragically shot by police who mistook him for a stray).

The Uga lineage began in 1956, when a dog owner named Cecelia Seiler dressed her bulldog in a children's-sized team jersey and took him to home games. Uga I patrolled the field for a decade before his son, Uga II, took up the mantle. Uga V, who reigned from 1990 to 1999, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Uga X, the current bulldog in residence, has been rooting for the team since 2015.

In deference to the dog's position, the University of Georgia goes to considerable lengths to make sure Uga is comfortable during the game. His doghouse is air-conditioned for the warmer months and his jerseys are custom-made. When one of the Uga clan passes, they're buried on stadium grounds in a marble vault. Apparently, not even death will prevent a loyal Georgia mascot from showing their support.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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