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10 Sports Cut From The Olympics

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More than a century after being cut from the official roster, golf is making a triumphant return to the Summer Olympics in Rio. Rugby, too—which hasn't been on the program since 1924—is an Olympic sport again. The International Olympic Committee has slashed a number of sports over the years, not all of which have gotten a second chance at gold medal glory. Here are 10 of them.

1. TUG OF WAR

Unlike some of other discontinued Olympic sports, tug of war had a fair amount of staying power; it made the program for every Olympics between 1900 and 1920. The sport was played in pretty much the same way you remember it from your grade-school field days, but it was also a magnet for Olympic controversies.

The 1904 gold medal-winning American squad was ostensibly representing the Milwaukee Athletic Club, which was terrific until further research established that the team was actually composed of ringers recruited from Chicago. Scandal struck again at the 1908 Games when the American squad protested that the police boots worn by the British pullers from the Liverpool Police team were equipped with illegal cleats for extra traction. When the protest failed, the American pullers left the Games in a huff. All told, the British teams grabbed five medals to the Americans' three before the sport fell off the program following the 1920 Games.

2. CRICKET

Cricket made both its Olympic debut and swan song at the second modern Games, held in 1900 in Paris. (Organizers originally wanted to have a cricket tournament at the 1896 Games, but the event didn't draw enough entries.) Things got off to a rough start when the Belgian and Dutch teams withdrew from the field prior to the start of play, leaving just a British touring team, the Devon and Somerset Wanderers, to take on the French Athletic Club Union's squad. The teams apparently weren't even aware they were playing in the Olympics; they thought the two-day match was just a part of the World's Fair Paris was hosting at the time.

According to one contemporary report, the teams squared off in a cycling arena fit for 20,000 spectators but had only a dozen soldiers as an audience. The English side won the match and received silver medals and miniature Eiffel Towers for their trouble; the French team got bronze medals.

Everyone returned home without knowing they had been Olympians, and it wasn't until the IOC sat down to make a comprehensive record of the Games in 1912 that the two squads received official recognition as gold and silver medalists in cricket. The sport never returned to the Games.

3. BASQUE PELOTA

Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

The Paris Games of 1900 saw more than one sport make its sole Olympic appearance (at least officially). Basque pelota, a sport with ancient roots in which teams of two players use a curved basket to fling a ball against a wall in a racquetball-like game, made the Olympic program for Paris. Unfortunately, like cricket, participation was a bit of a downer; only two teams showed up. The duo from Spain, where the sport enjoys great popularity, beat a French pair in the sole Olympic Basque pelota match to claim the gold medals. The final score of the match is lost to history.

4. CROQUET

Like cricket and Basque pelota, croquet only saw action at the 1900 Paris Games before fading into Olympic oblivion. The host Frenchmen made the most of the opportunity, though; they claimed all seven medals awarded in the sport. Records are sketchy, but it would seem that across the three events, nine of the 10 competitors were French, which probably facilitated their dominance.

5. ROQUE

By Unknown - Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Give yourself 50 bonus points if you know what roque is. The sport is a croquet variant played with short mallets on a hard rolled-sand court with a wall off of which players can bank the balls. The sport's official rules tout it as "the most scientific outdoor sport in existence," but it didn't hold up so well at the Olympics. Roque debuted at the 1904 Games in St. Louis, Americans swept the medals, and the sport promptly disappeared.

6. JEU DE PAUME

Jeu de paume, or "real tennis," is a tennis precursor that was originally played without racquets—players hit the ball with their hands. By the 1908 Games in London, the sport had evolved to the point where small racquets played a key role, but the largely indoor variant remained separate from what we think of as tennis, which was also played at the Games under the name "lawn tennis."

American railroad scion Jay Gould II claimed the gold, and Charles Sands, who won the gold in golf in 1900, competed but lost in the first round. "Real tennis" made a brief reappearance as a demonstration sport at the 1924 Games before fading away.

7. LACROSSE

Despite lacrosse's relative popularity in the English-speaking world, it never really caught on as an Olympic sport. It made the program in the 1904 and 1908 Games, and since only five teams combined entered the event over the two Games, every team that played won a medal. Canada won both golds and a bronze (they sent two teams in 1904), while American and British teams claimed the two silvers, respectively. Lacrosse was a demonstration sport at the 1928, 1932, and 1948 Games, but it never regained its medal status (though lacrosse players and enthusiasts are working hard to change that).

8. RACKETS

If you haven't noticed a pattern yet, it's worth pointing out that if you hosted an early set of Games, you could pretty much railroad whatever sport you wanted to onto the program to help your countrymen get medals. The rackets competition at the 1908 Games in London was no exception; every single entrant was British. The sport itself is very similar to squash, which originated as an offshoot of rackets in the 19th century, and remains popular in the UK. The seven-man all-British field included John Jacob Astor V of the famed Astor family; he won a gold in doubles and a bronze in singles competition.

9. POLO

Apparently the Olympics could never quite figure out how to handle polo, as it popped on and off the program throughout the first 40 years of the modern Games. Polo was a medal sport at five different Games, with competitions appearing in 1900, 1908, 1920, 1924, and 1936. Only the British team competed in all of these Games and won a total of six medals, including three gold.

10. WATER MOTORSPORTS

Motorboat racing first appeared as a demonstration sport at the 1900 Games, and in 1908 it received full medal status. Captains in three classes were set to race five laps around an eight-nautical-mile course in the only Olympic event to ever involve motors. However, the English weather didn't feel like complying and whipped up a ferocious gale. Two boats entered each class, but due to the terrible weather, boats started to fill with water, ran aground, suffered engine problems, and had to quit. As a result, only one boat finished each race, meaning that the only Olympic water motorsports medals ever handed out were gold. The British boat Gyrinus won two of the races.

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6 Times There Were Ties at the Oscars
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Only six ties have ever occurred during the Academy Awards' near-90-year history. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) members vote for nominees in their corresponding categories; here are the six times they have come to a split decision.

1. BEST ACTOR // 1932

Back in 1932, at the fifth annual Oscars ceremony, the voting rules were different than they are today. If a nominee received an achievement that came within three votes of the winner, then that achievement (or person) would also receive an award. Actor Fredric March had one more vote than competitor Wallace Beery, but because the votes were so close, the Academy honored both of them. (They beat the category’s only other nominee, Alfred Lunt.) March won for his performance in horror film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (female writer Frances Marion won Best Screenplay for the film), and Beery won for The Champ, which was remade in 1979 with Ricky Schroder and Jon Voight. Both Beery and March were previous nominees: Beery was nominated for The Big House and March for The Royal Family of Broadway. March won another Oscar in 1947 for The Best Years of Our Lives, also a Best Picture winner. Fun fact: March was the first actor to win an Oscar for a horror film.

2. BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT // 1950

By 1950, the above rule had been changed, but there was still a tie at that year's Oscars. A Chance to Live, an 18-minute movie directed by James L. Shute, tied with animated film So Much for So Little. Shute’s film was a part of Time Inc.’s "The March of Time" newsreel series and chronicles Monsignor John Patrick Carroll-Abbing putting together a Boys’ Home in Italy. Directed by Bugs Bunny’s Chuck Jones, So Much for So Little was a 10-minute animated film about America’s troubling healthcare situation. The films were up against two other movies: a French film named 1848—about the French Revolution of 1848—and a Canadian film entitled The Rising Tide.

3. BEST ACTRESS // 1969

Probably the best-known Oscars tie, this was the second and last time an acting award was split. When presenter Ingrid Bergman opened up the envelope, she discovered a tie between newcomer Barbra Streisand and two-time Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn—both received 3030 votes. Streisand, who was 26 years old, tied with the 61-year-old The Lion in Winter star, who had already been nominated 10 times in her lengthy career, and won the Best Actress Oscar the previous year for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Hepburn was not in attendance, so all eyes fell on Funny Girl winner Streisand, who wore a revealing, sequined bell-bottomed-pantsuit and gave an inspired speech. “Hello, gorgeous,” she famously said to the statuette, echoing her first line in Funny Girl.

A few years earlier, Babs had received a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Fanny Brice in the Broadway musical Funny Girl, but didn’t win. At this point in her career, she was a Grammy-winning singer, but Funny Girl was her movie debut (and what a debut it was). In 1974, Streisand was nominated again for The Way We Were, and won again in 1977 for her and Paul Williams’s song “Evergreen,” from A Star is Born. Four-time Oscar winner Hepburn won her final Oscar in 1982 for On Golden Pond.

4. BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE // 1987

The March 30, 1987 telecast made history with yet another documentary tie, this time for Documentary Feature. Oprah presented the awards to Brigitte Berman’s film about clarinetist Artie Shaw, Artie Shaw: Time is All You’ve Got, and to Down and Out in America, a film about widespread American poverty in the ‘80s. Former Oscar winner Lee Grant (who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1976 for Shampoo) directed Down and Out and won the award for producers Joseph Feury and Milton Justice. “This is for the people who are still down and out in America,” Grant said in her acceptance speech.

5. BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION) // 1995

More than 20 years ago—the same year Tom Hanks won for Forrest Gump—the Short Film (Live Action) category saw a tie between two disparate films: the 23-minute British comedy Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life, and the LGBTQ youth film Trevor. Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi wrote and directed the former, which stars Richard E. Grant (Girls, Withnail & I) as Kafka. The BBC Scotland film envisions Kafka stumbling through writing The Metamorphosis.

Trevor is a dramatic film about a gay 13-year-old boy who attempts suicide. Written by James Lecesne and directed by Peggy Rajski, the film inspired the creation of The Trevor Project to help gay youths in crisis. “We made our film for anyone who’s ever felt like an outsider,” Rajski said in her acceptance speech, which came after Capaldi's. “It celebrates all those who make it through difficult times and mourns those who didn’t.” It was yet another short film ahead of its time.

6. BEST SOUND EDITING // 2013

The latest Oscar tie happened only three years ago, when Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall beat Argo, Django Unchained, and Life of Pi in sound editing. Mark Wahlberg and his animated co-star Ted presented the award to Zero Dark Thirty’s Paul N.J. Ottosson and Skyfall’s Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers. “No B.S., we have a tie,” Wahlberg said to the crowd, assuring them he wasn’t kidding. Ottosson was announced first and gave his speech before Hallberg and Baker Landers found out that they were the other victors.

It wasn’t any of the winners' first trip to the rodeo: Ottosson won two in 2010 for his previous collaboration with Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker (Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Sound Mixing); Hallberg previously won an Oscar for Best Sound Effects Editing for Braveheart in 1996, and in 2008 both Hallberg and Baker Landers won Best Achievement in Sound Editing for The Bourne Ultimatum.

Ottosson told The Hollywood Reporter he possibly predicted his win: “Just before our category came up another fellow nominee sat next to me and I said, ‘What if there’s a tie, what would they do?’ and then we got a tie,” Ottosson said. Hallberg also commented to the Reporter on his win. “Any time that you get involved in some kind of history making, that would be good.”

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11 Haunting Facts About Beloved

Toni Morrison—who was born on February 18, 1931—made a name for herself with The Bluest Eye, Sula and Song of Solomon, but it wasn’t until 1987’s Beloved, about a runaway slave haunted by the death of her infant daughter, that her legacy was secured. The book won the Pulitzer Prize and was a key factor in the decision to award Morrison the Nobel Prize in 1993. All the awards aside, Beloved is a testament to the horrors of slavery, with its narrative of suffering and repressed memory and its dedication to the more than 60 million who died in bondage. Here are some notable facts about Morrison’s process and the novel’s legacy.

1. IT’S BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

While compiling research for 1974's The Black Book, Morrison came across the story of Margaret Garner, a runaway slave from Kentucky who escaped with her husband and four children to Ohio in 1856. A posse caught up with Garner, who killed her youngest daughter and attempted to do the same to her other children rather than let them return to bondage. Once apprehended, her trial transfixed the nation. "She was very calm; she said, 'I’d do it again,'" Morrison told The Paris Review. "That was more than enough to fire my imagination."

2. MORRISON CAME UP WITH THE CHARACTER BELOVED AFTER SHE STARTED WRITING.

The book was originally going to be about the haunting of Sethe by her infant daughter, who she killed (just as Garner did) rather than allow her to return to slavery. A third of the way through writing, though, Morrison realized she needed a flesh-and-blood character who could judge Sethe’s decision. She needed the daughter to come back to life in another form (some interpret it as a grief-driven case of mistaken identity). As she told the National Endowment for the Arts’ NEA Magazine: "I thought the only person who was legitimate, who could decide whether [the killing] was a good thing or not, was the dead girl."

3. SHE WROTE THE ENDING EARLY IN THE WRITING PROCESS.

Morrison has said she likes to know the ending of her books early on, and to write them down once she does. With Beloved, she wrote the ending about a quarter of the way in. "You are forced into having a certain kind of language that will keep the reader asking questions," she told author Carolyn Denard in Toni Morrison: Conversations.

4. MORRISON BECAME FASCINATED WITH SMALL HISTORICAL DETAILS.

To help readers understand the particulars of slavery, Morrison carefully researched historical documents and artifacts. One particular item she became fascinated with: the "bit" that masters would put in slaves' mouths as punishment. She couldn’t find much in the way of pictures or descriptions, but she found enough to imagine the shame slaves would feel. In Beloved, Paul D. tells Sethe that a rooster smiled at him while he wore the bit, indicating that he felt lower than a barnyard animal.

5. SHE ONLY RECENTLY READ THE BOOK HERSELF.

In an appearance on The Colbert Report last year, Morrison said she finally got around to reading Beloved after almost 30 years. Her verdict: "It’s really good!"

6. THE BOOK INSPIRED READERS TO BUILD BENCHES.

When accepting an award from the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1988, Morrison observed that there is no suitable memorial to slavery, "no small bench by the road." Inspired by this line, the Toni Morrison Society started the Bench by the Road Project to remedy the issue. Since 2006, the project has placed 15 benches in locations significant to the history of slavery and the Civil Rights movement, including Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, which served as the point of entry for 40% of slaves brought to America.

7. WHEN BELOVED DIDN’T WIN THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN 1987, FELLOW WRITERS PROTESTED.

After the snub, 48 African-American writers, including Maya Angelou, John Edgar Wideman and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., signed a letter that appeared in the New York Times Book Review. "For all of America, for all of American letters," the letter addressing Morrison read, "you have advanced the moral and artistic standards by which we must measure the daring and the love of our national imagination and our collective intelligence as a people."

8. IT’S ONE OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY CHALLENGED BOOKS.

Between 2000 and 2009, Beloved ranked 26th on the American Library Association’s list of most banned/challenged books. A recent challenge in Fairfax County, Virginia, cited the novel as too intense for teenage readers, while another challenge in Michigan said the book was, incredibly, overly simplistic and pornographic. Thankfully, both challenges were denied.

9. MORRISON ALSO WROTE AN OPERA BASED ON GARNER’S LIFE.

Ten years ago, Morrison collaborated with Grammy-winning composer Richard Danielpour on Margaret Garner, an opera about the real-life inspiration behind Beloved. It opened in Detroit in 2005, and played in Charlotte, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York before closing in 2008.

10. MORRISON DID NOT WANT IT MADE INTO A MOVIE.

Although she publicly claims otherwise, according to a New York magazine story, Morrison told friends she didn’t want Beloved made into a movie. And she didn’t want Oprah Winfrey (who bought the film rights in 1988) to be in it. Nevertheless, the film came out in 1998 and was a total flop.

11. THERE'S AN ILLUSTRATED VERSION.

The Folio Society, a London-based company that creates fancy special editions of classic books, released the first-ever illustrated Beloved in 2015. Artist Joe Morse had to be personally approved by Morrison for the project. Check out a few of his hauntingly beautiful illustrations here.

This article originally appeared in 2015.

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