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Columns

Reflections: Number of women competing in college sports has grown exponentially

Indiana Sen. Birch Bayh runs with student athletes at Purdue University in the 1970s. Bayh was the chief sponsor of Title IX, federal legislation that opened the door to women to compete in athletics at all levels. More than 175,000 women competed in athletics at the college level last year.
Indiana Sen. Birch Bayh runs with student athletes at Purdue University in the 1970s. Bayh was the chief sponsor of Title IX, federal legislation that opened the door to women to compete in athletics at all levels. More than 175,000 women competed in athletics at the college level last year.

Looks like it's trying to be springtime in Kendall County once again as the great wheel of the seasons makes one more rotation.

The climate in these parts is, as we all know, deceptive. Here in northern Illinois, we cope with 11 instead of the usual four seasons. Our seasons (according to a meme circulating on Facebook) consist of Winter, Fool's Spring, Second Winter, Spring of Deception, Third Winter, Mud Season, Actual Spring, Summer, False Fall, Second Summer (one week) and Actual Fall.

March generally falls somewhere around Third Winter or Mud Season, depending on the year.

Nevertheless, we can pretend it’s spring because spring sports have started, although in the professional world, basketball is still going on, and will be until summer.

But real sports are going on over at the high school as the baseball teams, the track teams and the rest of the athletes welcome in another spring season.

While a lot of sports are just starting, we can hope we may have seen the last of the heavy snows for this year, although, as indicated above, it's always hard to tell in northern Illinois.

But although winter may (and I emphasize the “may”) have checked out for another year, one constant in our lives is still chugging along. Junk mail has been arriving at a steady pace here at History Central in beautiful downtown Troy. As I was shoveling a few hundred pounds of the stuff into the Matile Manse recycling bin this week, I happened to notice a few facts in passing:

According to the NCAA, 29,997 women competed in collegiate sports in the 1971-72 year. By 1994-95, the number had increased to 110,524, and by the last academic year, the number had further climbed to 175,553.

Historically, men get the most vasectomies by far in the month of March.

Hate to be a pain, but here’s today’s happy reminder: Most people older than 40, X-rays reveal, have some degree of degenerative joint disease.

On the old Roman calendar, March was the first month of the year, with March 1 being New Year's Day.

It hasn’t always been easy to get a haircut in Copenhagen, Denmark. The world’s longest labor strike, concerning the employment of barbers’ assistants, ended there Jan. 4, 1961, after 33 years. Got to admire those Danes for their persistence, I guess.

Here’s a neat feature they probably won’t cover in your elephant’s owner’s manual: An elephant’s foot contracts when it lifts its leg. That evolutionary trick was added because elephants frequent wet, muddy places and can sink deep into the mud on lake and river shorelines. But since their feet contract when lifted, they easily slide right out of the sticky mud and muck.

The combined footprint of the five smallest countries in Europe could fit into the city limits of Phoenix.

Old tech is sometimes the best tech: You can use all your fancy filters and purification tablets, but the most reliable method to make polluted water safe to drink is to boil it. Historical sidelight: The companies building the transcontinental railroad west from California favored hiring Chinese workers because they suffered far fewer illnesses than Anglos. Turned out, that’s because Chinese favor drinking tea, for which water had to be boiled, thus suffering a lot less from the water-borne diseases so common during that era.

Over 40? The docs recommend getting your eyes checked at least every two years.

March was named for the Latin “Martius” – aka Mars, the Roman God of war and a mythical ancestor of the Roman people via his wolf-suckling sons, Romulus and Remus. With the winter frosts gone and the ground ready for planting again in the Northern Hemisphere, March historically was the perfect month for both farmers to resume farming, and warriors to resume marching.

On March 18, 2017, Stefan Kraft of Austria set the new world ski jump record with 832 feet at Vikersund, Norway.

Thomas Jefferson has been credited with introducing the following foods to America: rice, spaghetti, french fries and ice cream. A lavish entertainer, Jefferson was $40,000 in debt when he died – that’s $880,000 in today’s dollars.

The state of Wyoming was named by an Ohio congressman (who’d never seen the arid western territory) after the Wyoming Valley in eastern Pennsylvania.

In case you were wondering, the basic structure of the modern symphony orchestra dates from 1743, with the court of Duke Karl Theodor at Mannheim, Germany.

The March flower is the daffodil and the March birthstone is the aquamarine.

On this day in 1952, Alan Freed presented the Moondog Coronation Ball, the first-ever rock 'n' roll concert, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Tea bags were invented when a New York merchant, Thomas Sullivan, sent his customers samples of tea in small silk bags. Discovering they would brew tea like this, customers wrote and requested more and, as they say, the rest is history.

Whooping cranes are the tallest birds native to North America, standing about 5 feet tall.

In case you were wondering, bacteria are much larger than viruses.

Like topaz? The world’s largest topaz is on exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Tennis wasn’t reintroduced to the Olympic Games until 1988, having originally been included from 1896b to 1924. It was dropped after the 1924 Games due to disputes between the International Lawn Tennis Federation and the International Olympic Committee over allowing amateur players to compete.

North Dakota produces the most honey in the U.S., 33,670 pounds annually.

Are you big-boned? Bones make up about 25 percent of our total body weight.

Finally, it wasn’t until 1863 that Americans started to take drugs in commercially made pills. Jacob Dunton, a Philadelphia wholesale druggist, originated the machine to make the pills. His entire production from 1869 to 1876 was far, far less than that made daily in the U.S. today. Thought you’d like to know.

Looking for more local history? Visit http://historyonthefox.wordpress.com.

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