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Sports
A few months ago I posted a phony video showing a guy on a surfboard being towed by a shark. It now looks like that video was a case of satirical prophecy, because a guy in Australia is reporting that something similar happened to him in real life. From news.com.au:
A SURFER says a large shark towed him out to sea like a "powerful jet ski' after it became entangled in the leg rope of his surfboard.
John Morgan said the thrashing animal dragged him more than 50m after it became ensnared in the rope linking his ankle to the board during his daily lunchtime surf on the New South Wales mid-north coast's Clarks Beach yesterday.
"I had just come off a wave when I saw a large swirl of water,'' he told the Northern Star newspaper.
"I was then suddenly hauled backwards.
"It felt like I was riding behind a powerful jet ski."

Of course, the guy could be making the whole thing up, but I don't any have reason to doubt his story.
Categories: Sports
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 10, 2008
Comments (2)
Reuters has posted an article claiming that some Olympic volleyball players are wearing glasses with no lenses during games. It's all about money, of course:

beach volleyball players at the Olympics took to the court wearing frames with no lenses. "The lenses fog up because of the humidity, so you can't wear the glasses without popping out the lenses," U.S. men's volleyballer Phil Dalhausser told reporters on Monday. High humidity is a regular feature of the weather in Beijing at this time of year. Several beach volleyball players wear glasses at night to reduce the glare of floodlights or protect their eyes from flying sand but the frames serve no other purpose than sponsorship.

I haven't seen any pictures of these frames-but-no-lenses athletes, but the story makes sense if the athletes are obliged to wear the glasses because of a sponsorship deal.
Categories: Sports
Posted by Alex on Thu Aug 14, 2008
Comments (4)
1) The school child who walked at the front of the Chinese team during the opening ceremonies (he was a survivor of the Sichuan earthquake) was carrying an upside-down Chinese flag. Why is debatable. Maybe it was an innocent mistake, or maybe it was a coded message of "great distress" (as upside-down flags mean in nautical convention). Whatever the reason, the Chinese media cropped the upside-down flag out of the photos they showed Chinese audiences.

2) The opening ceremonies included a massive fireworks display. But what was shown to television audiences was a pre-recorded, computer-generated shot of fireworks. This was done because of "potential dangers in filming the display live from a helicopter." I've seen plenty of televised fireworks displays, but I've never heard that excuse before.

[Update: According to stuff.co.nz, the fake fireworks occurred during the sequence when firework "footprints" were going off in a series over the city of Beijing, tracked from a helicopter and leading right up to the stadium. When I watched the ceremony, I remember the NBC commentators noting that the sequence was a computer generated graphic. This is more understandable to me. When I read the yahoo sports article, I got the impression that it was the fireworks directly over the stadium that had been faked.]

3) The ceremonies concluded with a dramatic torch-lighting stunt. As this was happening, a projection of the Microsoft "blue screen of death" mysteriously appeared on the roof of the stadium. Some programmer's mistake, apparently. This really happened.

And a fourth item to note (Thanks, Nick): the little girl who sang "Ode to the Motherland" was lip-synching. The AP reports:
Lin Miaoke's performance Friday night, like the ceremony itself, was an immediate hit. "Nine-year-old Lin Miaoke becomes instant star with patriotic song," the China Daily newspaper headline said Tuesday. But the real voice behind the tiny, pigtailed girl in the red dress who wowed 91,000 spectators at the National Stadium on opening night really belonged to 7-year-old Yang Peiyi. Her looks apparently failed the cuteness test with officials organizing the ceremony, but Chen said her voice was judged the most beautiful.
"The national interest requires that the girl should have good looks and a good grasp of the song and look good on screen," Chen said. "Lin Miaoke was the best in this. And Yang Peiyi's voice was the most outstanding."
Categories: Photos/Videos, Sports, Technology
Posted by Alex on Tue Aug 12, 2008
Comments (6)
Baseball fans attending the recent Fan Fest in New York City had the chance to get memorabilia signed by C. Yeager of the Phillies. The problem: there is no "C. Yeager" playing for the Phillies. The man in the Phillies uniform was really just a guy who likes to dress up as a ballplayer so that, for a few minutes, he can enjoy the adulation of kids... before the police haul him away.

The Sporting Blog (who has video of the guy signing anything people stuck in front of him) writes: "He works for a regional sports media company in Philly and never played ball beyond high school."

I assume "C. Yeager" was a fake name.
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Sports
Posted by Alex on Tue Jul 15, 2008
Comments (7)
Another case of an impostor is in the news. A woman in Somerville, Mass. thought she was dating Jeff Turner, a former basketball player for the Washington Seattle Sonics. Turns out she was actually dating an impostor named Ronnie Craven. Craven's cover was blown when the woman became suspicious, tracked down the real Jeff Turner, and called him. Craven admits to the hoax, but says he only did it to impress the woman. In other words, he claims he was only trying to benefit sexually, not financially, from the scheme. However, it appears he had also been telling friends and even his hometown newspaper that he worked for the Sonics. From seattlepi.com:

"I'll admit, it was a hoax," Craven said Monday. "It was all a put-on. But somebody who I met on a dating site is trying to sabotage me. This is some broad that I lied to who said I did identity theft, (and) I am not going to know what hit me. There was no intimacy in the relationship. I never tapped her."...
Craven insisted he would stop lying about his identity. He said this situation would damage his reputation in Somerville. He said he was merely lying to impress a woman, nothing more. But this time his game went too far.
"To be honest with you, this whole thing has already taken its toll," he said.
"I know my credibility doesn't look so great right now. This is embarrassing for me. At this point, I don't know what to do. I will say this is very, very disturbing."

You gotta love how guys like Craven (which is a perfect name for him) rationalize their deception. He figures it was okay to lie to the woman because he hadn't "tapped her."

Impostors often pose as sports stars. Just a few months ago I posted about a guy who, for decades, pretended to be Red Sox's pitcher Bill Henry. Not even his wife knew the truth. (Thanks, Joe)
Categories: Identity/Imposters, Sex/Romance, Sports
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 05, 2008
Comments (7)
In this video a surfer hitches a ride behind a shark, after getting the shark to swallow some chunks of meat attached to a fishing line. It looks like it was shot in southern California, and we do get some big sharks around here occasionally. Just last week a guy was killed off the coast of San Diego by a great white. But this video looks obviously fake. As many of the youtube comments point out, you can see the wake of a boat off camera in front of the shark fin.

I don't have any information about who made the video. At the end, the word "Notorious" appears on the screen, but I don't know who or what that is.

Categories: Photos/Videos, Sports
Posted by Alex on Mon May 05, 2008
Comments (13)
On Monday (April 13) Buster Martin completed the London marathon in a time of approximately ten hours. What made this remarkable was his age. Martin claims to be 101-years-old. If true, this would make him the oldest person ever to complete a marthon. (The former record holder was 98-year-old Dimitrion Yordanidies who completed the Athens marathon in 1976 with a time of 7.5 hours.) But Martin's age has been called into question.

Martin says he was born on September 1, 1906. The British National Health Service, however, says he previously told them he was born in 1913, which would make him a mere 94.

The problem is that Martin has no birth certificate because he was born in France and later moved to a British orphanage. So there's no way to verify his exact age. Guinness World Records has refused to list him as the new record holder, insisting they need a birth certificate.

Perhaps Martin actually comes from Vilcabamba, the Ecuadorian town of very old people. As Vilcabamba demonstrated, the phenomenon of age exaggeration is well known to anthropologists. The problem is that it's very tempting for very old people to add a few more years onto their age, since it's an easy way to get more attention. So a lot of people who are getting close to 100 decide to bump up their age to make themselves older than 100.

Also running in the marathon were a man who dribbled a basketball the entire way, a girl on 4ft stilts, an 80-year-old woman, a blind man, and a team of six Masai warriors who sang traditional songs as they ran in shoes made from tires.
Categories: Sports
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 15, 2008
Comments (9)
The latest viral video going around shows Kobe Bryant jumping over a moving Aston Martin. Is it real? I doubt it, though I can't definitively prove it's fake.

Think about it. Why would he risk his career by trying to jump over a car? That's what special effects are for.

A better quality version of the video can be seen at Bryant's website.


Categories: Photos/Videos, Sports
Posted by Alex on Fri Apr 11, 2008
Comments (47)
A lot of people have posted this video to youtube in the past month, but no one identifies where the clip comes from. My question is: How was the shot created? The table looks like it's tilted to help the balls roll towards the pockets. Also, I'm assuming the egg is not real.


Categories: Animals, Photos/Videos, Sports
Posted by Alex on Tue Mar 04, 2008
Comments (5)
The following video shows kids (maybe in Brazil, I'm guessing) performing extreme freestyle soccer tricks. The tricks are pretty cool, but of course they're fake. The flips may be real, but the soccer ball must have been digitally inserted into the shots. The video is a viral ad for a new playstation game, FIFA Street 3. It reminds me of that Nike ad featuring Ronaldinho that was going around two years ago.

Categories: Advertising, Photos/Videos, Sports
Posted by Alex on Mon Feb 25, 2008
Comments (19)
Here's another photo series I found in an old issue of Life Magazine (April 26, 1937). I had to kill some time in the UCSD library this morning, which is why I was looking through old magazines. The photos were titled "South Carolina Negroes Play 'Fireball Dodging'".


Here are the captions for the five photos (complete with the racist language characteristic of the 1930s):

1) A new game invented by the Negroes of South Carolina is called "Fireball Dodging." Balls are made of burlap.
2) The balls are then drenched in kerosene. In preparation for a game several dozen such balls are made.
3) When night comes the burlap balls are set afire. The players spread out in a field and start throwing them.
4) "Fireball Dodging" is played chiefly by field hands on the cotton plantations. The object of the game is to hit someone else and to avoid getting hit yourself.
5) This darkie is losing. "Fireball Dodging" was uncovered by a Universal movie cameraman who made these pictures for a short called "Stranger than Fiction."

These photos were presented as a factual news item, but I have a hard time believing that anyone ever really played "fireball dodging." After all, the potential for incinerating one of your friends seems a little high. I can't find any references to it, except for this one article. My guess is that either the cameraman dreamed up this game, and arranged for some guys to pretend to play it, or the field hands were pulling the wool over the cameraman's eyes.
Categories: Sports
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 22, 2008
Comments (12)
Last week high-school football player Kevin Hart announced at an assembly at his school, Fernley High, that he had been recruited to play at UC Berkeley, a Pac-10 school. It was exciting news for his school and was publicized by the local media. But then Hart's story began to unravel.

It became apparent that Hart hadn't been recruited by anyone at UC Berkeley. Hart initially explained that the recruitment had been conducted by a middleman named Kevin Riley, implying that the middleman must have conned him.

But yesterday Hart admitted that he had, in fact, made the entire thing up. In a statement he said, "I wanted to play D-1 ball more than anything. When I realized that wasn't going to happen, I made up what I wanted to be reality. I am sorry for disappointing and embarrassing my family, coaches, Fernley High school, the involved universities and reporters covering the story."

Kind of sad in a way. Links here and here.
Categories: Sports
Posted by Alex on Thu Feb 07, 2008
Comments (9)
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