Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cheerleading...and Ultrarunning

Hey, this is only 2 weeks late, but it seems that 2 Nov is the anniversary of several noteworthy events of a geeky nature (i.e., right up my alley).  From the Writer's Almanac:

On this date in 1920, the first modern commercially licensed radio station--KDKA in Pittsburgh--began broadcasting.

It's also the anniversary of the maiden--and only--flight of the Spruce Goose, made on this date in 1947. It's technically known as the H-4 Hercules, and it was made of birch, not spruce. Dreamed up by shipping magnate Henry Kaiser, and designed by Howard Hughes, it remains the largest airplane ever built, by far: It's five stories tall, it boasts a wingspan of 320 feet, its cargo area is large enough to hold two railroad boxcars, and it has eight engines with 17-foot propellers. It was made of wood because metal was at a premium during the war.

And last but not least: 

It's the birthday of cheerleading, which made its debut at the University of Minnesota on this date in 1898. Pep clubs had been around for a couple of decades, especially at Princeton, where their all-male pep club led the crowd in unified chanting to motivate the football team.

Cheerleading was a male-only sport until 1923, when the first female cheerleaders took the field. This phenomenon didn't really take off until the 1940s, when the male student body was depleted by World War II. The '20s also saw the advent of acrobatics, human pyramids, and dance moves to accompany the fight songs and chants.

Now that's what is lacking in Ultrarunning--cheerleading!  Forget about the pathetic efforts of family, crew, and race volunteers to cheer is on.  What we REALLY need is some "unified chanting to motivate" the runners. 

Squads of cheerleaders could position themselves deep in the forest, far from any access point, to maximize the impact of their motivational chants.  Depending on the terrain, "acrobatics, human pyramids, and dance moves" should also be employed to whip up the tired runners.


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