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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
Why Do Cats Freak Out After Pooping?
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Cats often exhibit some very peculiar behavior, from getting into deadly combat situations with their own tail to pouncing on unsuspecting humans. Among their most curious habits: running from their litter box like a greyhound after moving their bowels. Are they running from their own fecal matter? Has waste elimination prompted a sense of euphoria?

Experts—if anyone is said to qualify as an expert in post-poop moods—aren’t exactly sure, but they’ve presented a number of entertaining theories. From a biological standpoint, some animal behaviorists suspect that a cat bolting after a deposit might stem from fears that a predator could track them based on the smell of their waste. But researchers are quick to note that they haven’t observed cats run from their BMs in the wild.

Biology also has a little bit to do with another theory, which postulates that cats used to getting their rear ends licked by their mother after defecating as kittens are showing off their independence by sprinting away, their butts having taken on self-cleaning properties in adulthood.

Not convinced? You might find another idea more plausible: Both humans and cats have a vagus nerve running from their brain stem. In both species, the nerve can be stimulated by defecation, leading to a pleasurable sensation and what some have labeled “poo-phoria,” or post-poop elation. In running, the cat may simply be working off excess energy brought on by stimulation of the nerve.

Less interesting is the notion that notoriously hygienic cats may simply want to shake off excess litter or fecal matter by running a 100-meter dash, or that a digestive problem has led to some discomfort they’re attempting to flee from. The fact is, so little research has been done in the field of pooping cat mania that there’s no universally accepted answer. Like so much of what makes cats tick, a definitive motivation will have to remain a mystery.

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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Big Questions
Why Do Baseball Managers Wear Uniforms?
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Basketball and hockey coaches wear business suits on the sidelines. Football coaches wear team-branded shirts and jackets and often ill-fitting pleated khakis. Why are baseball managers the only guys who wear the same outfit as their players?

According to John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball since 2011, it goes back to the earliest days of the game. Back then, the person known as the manager was the business manager: the guy who kept the books in order and the road trips on schedule. Meanwhile, the guy we call the manager today, the one who arranges the roster and decides when to pull a pitcher, was known as the captain. In addition to managing the team on the field, he was usually also on the team as a player. For many years, the “manager” wore a player’s uniform simply because he was a player. There were also a few captains who didn’t play for the team and stuck to making decisions in the dugout, and they usually wore suits.

With the passing of time, it became less common for the captain to play, and on most teams they took on strictly managerial roles. Instead of suits proliferating throughout America’s dugouts, though, non-playing captains largely hung on to the tradition of wearing a player's uniform. By the early to mid 20th century, wearing the uniform was the norm for managers, with a few notable exceptions. The Philadelphia Athletics’s Connie Mack and the Brooklyn Dodgers’s Burt Shotton continued to wear suits and ties to games long after it fell out of favor (though Shotton sometimes liked to layer a team jacket on top of his street clothes). Once those two retired, it’s been uniforms as far as the eye can see.

The adherence to the uniform among managers in the second half of the 20th century leads some people to think that MLB mandates it, but a look through the official major league rules [PDF] doesn’t turn up much on a manager’s dress. Rule 1.11(a) (1) says that “All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players’ uniforms shall include minimal six-inch numbers on their backs" and rule 2.00 states that a coach is a "team member in uniform appointed by the manager to perform such duties as the manager may designate, such as but not limited to acting as base coach."

While Rule 2.00 gives a rundown of the manager’s role and some rules that apply to them, it doesn’t specify that they’re uniformed. Further down, Rule 3.15 says that "No person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home club." Again, nothing about the managers being uniformed.

All that said, Rule 2.00 defines the bench or dugout as “the seating facilities reserved for players, substitutes and other team members in uniform when they are not actively engaged on the playing field," and makes no exceptions for managers or anyone else. While the managers’ duds are never addressed anywhere else, this definition does seem to necessitate, in a roundabout way, that managers wear a uniform—at least if they want to have access to the dugout. And, really, where else would they sit?

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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