Countries around the world are winning gold, silver, and bronze medals at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. We know what the medals mean: accomplishment, hard work, love of country. But have you ever thought about the medals themselves?
The original Games in ancient Greece were played solely for honor; the winners received wreaths of olive leaves from a sacred tree to mark their accomplishment. When the Games were revived in 1896, the winners in each event received a silver medal, with second place receiving bronze. During the 1900 games, cups were usually given out instead of medals. For the next few Games, smaller medals of solid gold were awarded. The use of gold was phased out when WWI broke out; the last solid gold medals were given during the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden.
While the host country for the Games is responsible for minting the medals, there are some international standards. Olympic gold medals must be at least 92.5% silver, and contain no less than 6 grams of gold (usually in the plating on the medal.) All medals must be a minimum of 3mm thick and 60mm in diameter.
A design by Italian artist Giuseppe Cassioli dominated the obverse of the medals for the Summer Olympics for four decades, from 1928 through 1968. Cassioli’s design showed the Greek goddess of victory, Nike, against the Roman Coliseum, with text indicating the host city of that year’s Games. The back of the medal featured a basic design of Nike saluting an Olympic winner. A revised design was commissioned in 2004 when it was noted that Cassioli’s design featured a Roman landmark for Greek-inspired games. From 1972 through 2000, Cassioli’s design remained on the obverse, while the host city created a unique design for the reverse. The Winter Games, of more recent origin, have had more variety in the medal designs.
But what goes into actually creating the medals that are awarded to the athletes? The London Olympic Games released a video to show the whole process.
Have fun watching the Olympics in Rio!
On one fateful day in 1891, Dr. James Naismith needed a way to keep his students busy indoors during the cold winters. He came up with the rules for an indoor game played with a soccer ball and a peach basket nailed onto the wall. The number of people on each team was determined by the number of students in Naismith’s gym class. The game eventually evolved into basketball, the only major sport invented in the U.S.
Basketball rules evolved over time. When the game first started, the basket had a bottom and the ball had to be removed manually each time. The original game had no dribbling, either; dribbling was only introduced in the 1950’s when the ball had become a more uniform sphere.
Naismith claimed that he based the rules of basketball on the children’s game “Duck on a Rock”.
You can buy this postcard here!
These are the original rules of basketball, penned by Dr. James Naismith himself (source):
1. The ball may be thrown in any direction with one or both hands.
2. The ball may be batted in any direction with one or both hands.
3. A player cannot run with the ball. The player must throw it from the spot on which he catches it, allowance to be made for a man who catches the ball when running at a good speed if he tries to stop.
4. The ball must be held in or between the hands; the arms or body must not be used for holding it.
5. No shouldering, holding, striking, pushing, or tripping in any way of an opponent. The first infringement of this rule by any person shall count as a foul; the second shall disqualify him until the next basket is made or, if there was evident intent to injure the person, for the whole of the game. No substitution shall be allowed.
6. A foul is striking at the ball with the fist, violation of rules three and four and such described in rule five.
7. If either side makes three consecutive fouls, it shall count a goal for the opponents (consecutive means without the opponents in the mean time making a foul).
8. A goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the grounds into the basket and stays there (without falling), providing those defending the goal do not touch or disturb the goal. If the ball rests on the edges, and the opponent moves the basket, it shall count as a goal.
9. When the ball goes out of bounds, it shall be thrown into the field of play and played by the first person touching it. In case of dispute the umpire shall throw it straight into the field. The thrower-in is allowed five seconds. If he holds it longer, it shall go to the opponent. If any side persists in delaying the game, the umpire shall call a foul on that side.
10. The umpire shall be the judge of the men and shall note the fouls and notify the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. He shall have power to disqualify people according to Rule 5.
11. The referee shall be judge of the ball and shall decide when the ball is in play, in bounds, to which side it belongs, and shall keep the time. He shall decide when a goal has been made and keep account of the baskets, with any other duties that are usually performed by a scorekeeper.
12. The time shall be two fifteen-minute halves, with five minutes rest between.
13. The side making the most points in that time is declared the winner.