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What New Sports Will Debut at the Next Olympics?

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For the Winter Games in Sochi, the International Olympic Committee added 12 new events. We might be two and four years away from the next Olympic Games, but the process to add new events is well underway. It's time to consider what the next set of sports to break (or re-break) Olympic ground will be.

2016 Summer Olympics

As far back as 2008, the International Olympic Committee notified the world governing bodies of the seven sports being considered to fill two vacancies in the 2016 lineup. Representatives from baseball and softball—which were dropped in a 2005 IOC meeting, effective at the 2012 London Olympics—along with karate, golf, roller sports, squash and rugby made presentations to the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland, in June 2009. After extensive lobbying, an IOC board selected golf and a pared-down, seven-man-per-team version of rugby as contenders.

That October, the full 106-member IOC assembly ratified the selections. Under a new rule, each sport only needed a simple majority, and not a two-thirds majority as had previously been the case, to join the program.

The classic 15-man team rugby was played inconsistently in the Olympics in the early 1900s, appearing four times between 1900 and 1924. The United States was only the team to take home the gold medal twice during that early incarnation.

Golf was also a part of the first Olympics in the 20th Century. But it disappeared from the program after inclusion in the 1900 and 1904 Games. Just as with rugby, the U.S. currently has the most Olympic golf medals—but that might have something to do with the fact that in 1904, 74 of the 77 golfers who participated were American.

2018 Winter Olympics

After the influx of new sports in the last Winter Olympics, the program was deemed plenty packed, so no additions were approved for 2018. Typically, the lineup for any given Olympics is determined, along with the host city, seven to eight years ahead of time. PyeongChang, South Korea has already be tapped to host in 2018. That said, specific sports are still lobbying for inclusion.

In addition to the five medal events for men and women, respectively, alpine skiing is pushing for an 11th coed team event to be added. "Now we are confident that [the IOC is] very open and supportive of including the nations team event," International Ski Federation (FIS) secretary general Sarah Lewis told Reuters.

Slightly less likely to be included is the two-man chicken bobsled. As part of a KFC-sponsored stunt, a pair of Olympic bobsledders made a video of themselves eating fried chicken while speeding down a bobsled track at 70mph. It's dramatic but I remain skeptical that the brand will get enough signatures on their Facebook petition to warrant inclusion at PyeongChang.

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Big Questions
What Makes a Cat's Tail Puff Up When It's Scared?
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Cats wear their emotions on their tails, not their sleeves. They tap their fluffy rear appendages during relaxing naps, thrash them while tense, and hold them stiff and aloft when they’re feeling aggressive, among other behaviors. And in some scary situations (like, say, being surprised by a cucumber), a cat’s tail will actually expand, puffing up to nearly twice its volume as its owner hisses, arches its back, and flattens its ears. What does a super-sized tail signify, and how does it occur naturally without help from hairspray?

Cats with puffed tails are “basically trying to make themselves look as big as possible, and that’s because they detect a threat in the environment," Dr. Mikel Delgado, a certified cat behavior consultant who studied animal behavior and human-pet relationships as a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley, tells Mental Floss. The “threat” in question can be as major as an approaching dog or as minor as an unexpected noise. Even if a cat isn't technically in any real danger, it's still biologically wired to spring to the offensive at a moment’s notice, as it's "not quite at the top of the food chain,” Delgado says. And a big tail is reflexive feline body language for “I’m big and scary, and you wouldn't want to mess with me,” she adds.

A cat’s tail puffs when muscles in its skin (where the hair base is) contract in response to hormone signals from the stress/fight or flight system, or sympathetic nervous system. Occasionally, the hairs on a cat’s back will also puff up along with the tail. That said, not all cats swell up when a startling situation strikes. “I’ve seen some cats that seem unflappable, and they never get poofed up,” Delgado says. “My cats get puffed up pretty easily.”

In addition to cats, other animals also experience piloerection, as this phenomenon is technically called. For example, “some birds puff up when they're encountering an enemy or a threat,” Delgado says. “I think it is a universal response among animals to try to get themselves out of a [potentially dangerous] situation. Really, the idea is that you don't have to fight because if you fight, you might lose an ear or you might get an injury that could be fatal. For most animals, they’re trying to figure out how to scare another animal off without actually going fisticuffs.” In other words, hiss softly, but carry a big tail.

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What Happened to the Physical Copy of the 'I Have a Dream' Speech?
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AFP, Getty Images

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and gave a speech for the ages, delivering the oratorical masterpiece "I Have a Dream" to nearly 250,000 people.

When he was done, King stepped away from the podium, folded his speech, and found himself standing in front of George Raveling, a former Villanova basketball player who, along with his friend Warren Wilson, had been asked to provide extra security around Dr. King while he was speaking. "We were both tall, gangly guys," Raveling told TIME in 2003. "We didn't know what we were doing but we certainly made for a good appearance."

Moved by the speech, Raveling saw the folded papers in King’s hands and asked if he could have them. King gave the young volunteer the speech without hesitation, and that was that.

“At no time do I remember thinking, ‘Wow, we got this historic document,’” Raveling told Sports Illustrated in 2015. Not realizing he was holding what would become an important piece of history in his hands, Raveling went home and stuck the three sheets of paper into a Harry Truman biography for safekeeping. They sat there for nearly two decades while Raveling developed an impressive career coaching NCAA men’s basketball.

In 1984, he had recently taken over as the head coach at the University of Iowa and was chatting with Bob Denney of the Cedar Rapids Gazette when Denney brought up the March on Washington. That's when Raveling dropped the bomb: “You know, I’ve got a copy of that speech," he said, and dug it out of the Truman book. After writing an article about Raveling's connection, the reporter had the speech professionally framed for the coach.

Though he displayed the framed speech in his house for a few years, Raveling began to realize the value of the piece and moved it to a bank vault in Los Angeles. Though he has received offers for King’s speech—one collector wanted to purchase the speech for $3 million in 2014—Raveling has turned them all down. He has been in talks with various museums and universities and hopes to put the speech on display in the future, but for now, he cherishes having it in his possession.

“That to me is something I’ll always be able to look back and say I was there,” Raveling said in the original Cedar Rapids Gazette article. “And not only out there in that arena of people, but to be within touching distance of him. That’s like when you’re 80 or 90 years old you can look back and say ‘I was in touching distance of Abraham Lincoln when he made the Gettysburg Address.’"

“I have no idea why I even asked him for the speech,” Raveling, now CEO of Coaching for Success, has said. “But I’m sure glad that I did.”

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