Now You Know

Why in sports does the home team wear white while the visitors wear darker colours?

Early television was in black and white and the definitions weren’t
nearly as precise as they are today. When the Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation was testing for live hockey broadcasts in 1952, they found
that if both teams wore their traditional colours, it was impossible to
tell them apart. They solved the problem by having the home team
wear white, while the visitors stayed in their darker uniforms.

Why is a football field called a “gridiron”?

The word football first described a game involving two teams and an
inflated animal bladder in 1486. The game evolved several times
before North Americans introduced new rules, such as three chances
to advance the ball five yards, that led to white lines being painted on
the field. From the stands, these lines gave the field the appearance of
broiled meat from the metal grating of a griddle or “gridiron,” and so
that’s what they called it.

Why isn’t it over ’til the fat lady sings?

In the 1970s, Washington sports columnist Dan Cook wrote, “The
opera isn’t over ’til the fat lady sings.” Later, basketball coach Dick
Motta, referring to the Bulls’ slim playoff chances, misquoted Cook
when he said, “It isn’t over ’til the fat lady sings,” and it stuck. The
inspiration might have been the old American proverb, “Church ain’t
out ’til the fat lady sings,” but regardless, it’s now accepted in sports as
meaning: where there’s life, there’s hope.

Where did we get the expression second string?

In sports jargon, the second string is the second-best group of players on
a given team. The term has also found its way into business, where it is
used in much the same way. In fact, it comes from medieval archers,
who always carried an extra string in case the one on their bow broke.
Therefore the second string had to be as good as the first, as did the
third and fourth strings.

Why do we say a person isn’t “up to scratch?”

During the early days of bare-knuckle boxing, a line was scratched
across the centre of the ring, dividing it into two halves. This is where
the fighters met to start the contest, or where they “toed the line” to
begin each round. If, as the fight progressed, one of the boxers was
unable to toe the line without help from his seconds, it was said he had
failed to come “up to scratch.”

Why is a boxing ring square?

In the days of bare-knuckle boxing, before modern rules, a circle was
drawn in the dirt and prize fighters were ringed by the fans. When one
of the men was knocked out of that circle, he was simply pushed back
into the ring by the crowd. In 1867, Marcus of Queensbury introduced
a number of rules to boxing, including three-minute rounds and a
roped-off square, which fans continued to call the “boxing ring.”

From The Book Titled "Now You Know" by Doug Lennox