Go Ask daddy About Water Sports, Chalky Hands and Gridiron Legends

photo credit: #290/366 via photopin (license)
photo credit: #290/366 via photopin (license)

Ah, minds of wonder.

They’re always asking. Inquiring. You know, wondering.

My oldest now has an i-Pod, so perhaps her days of inquiry have ended when it comes to dad. Why ask D-A-D when you can just type in G-O-O-G-L-E?

I take note, and each time I do get the privilege of being asked to explain something in our wonderful and complex universe, I’ll do what any (blogging) father would do – I’ll say, “good question, honey. Let me research it, and I’ll blog about it. I’ll send you a link.”

If that’s not a Hallmark moment, what is?

Here’s the latest batch. I realized this morning after dreaming about Summer Sanders and pole vaulters landing in pudding that I should capitalize on the timing of the Olympic games and your questions about them now.

If I run this blog in two weeks, I’ll look like I was way late to the party. Again.

1. How deep is the water polo pool? Why do they wear those things on their ears?

photo credit: #290/366 via photopin (license)
photo credit: #290/366 via photopin (license)

Deep enough that the horses don’t have to tread water. Kidding. Horse jokes with water polo date back to the 1940s, roughly, but you’re so young, you probably haven’t heard that one.

The water polo pool is 6 feet, all the way around.

If I were IOC president, I’d use a pool like in our neighborhood, with a shallow and a deep end, and make the teams change sides at halftime.

Can you imagine the advantage and strategic play? You could use all your short defenders when you’re attacking the deep end. And I’d allow midfielders to use super soakers, and goalkeepers to use water wings.

Those things on their ears? I used to think they stashed snacks in there (I would), but apparently, it’s protective head gear. Those cats throw more elbows than the teams you guys play from Odell (don’t worry, I don’t think any of those families read this blog).

In water polo – like at our neighborhood pool – rough play is inevitable, ignored and accepted as part of the experience.

2. Who is the youngest Olympian?

photo credit: #290/366 via photopin (license)
photo credit: #290/366 via photopin (license)

In the Jerusalem Games, 450 A.D., there was an Olympian who soared to incredible heights in the shot put. You don’t hear much about Throwmefaricus in Olympic lore.

That’s because at age 9 months, he helped Greece to a gold medal in the shot put – as the shot put. In the 454 A.D. games in Des Moines, the IOC put a stop to such antics.

The youngest Olympian was Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras, who won bronze in the 1896 Athens games. Inge Sorensen of Denmark, age 12, was the youngest girl Olympian, and won bronze in the 200-meter breaststroke in the 1936 Games.

Our favorite young medalist is Katie Ledecky, who wasted the world in the 800-meter freestyle.

She went from swimmer-killer in the pool, setting an American record and finishing so far out front I think she was already dried off by the time the other women finished, to adorable American on the podium, smiling and crying while the national anthem played.

3. Dada, why do the gymnasts in the Olympics put that white stuff on their hands?

photo credit: #290/366 via photopin (license)
photo credit: #290/366 via photopin (license)

They pack on the climbing chalk so their hands don’t stick to the bars they’re spinning around on. Think about what happens when you play on the monkey bars at school, with sneeze juice and remnants of that mystery-meat lasagna you just ate at lunch still on your hands.

And your skin sticks to the bar a little. Imagine that, but while you’re on the rings in front of millions of people at the Olympics. Hey, maybe this is why there are so many broken arms that happen right under the monkey bars.

Maybe the school should make climbing chalk available to elementary school kids, too.

It’s kind of the same reason I coat my hands with flour when I make tortillas. Sort of.

4. Dad, do animals get poison ivy?

photo credit: Poison Ivy cosplayer via photopin (license)
photo credit: Poison Ivy cosplayer via photopin (license)

Those of us with opposable thumbs get all the fun, honey. We have language, emotions, love and hate, day baseball, Mexican pizza rolls, tax forms, touch phones and arena football.

We don’t, however, have resistance to the nastiness that is poison ivy juice. I’ve never had it, personally, despite a sometimes wayward disc golf game that delivers me and my disc into the depths of the thicket, with all things spidery, snakey and poison ivy-ey.

Nine out of 10 veterinarians (and one Cuban busboy who takes his basset hound for regular walks among the vegetation common in the Carolinas) agree: Our animal friends cannot get the itch we do from poison ivy.

That’s why goats and wildebeests can chow on it, without a single hive. Why a pair of squirrels can have a love tryst among the leaves and come out smiling.

Why an iguana could nap in a tuft of it, wake up, yawn, and amble on, itch-free.

If we humans weed-whack it, or pet the dog after he’s rolled in it, or make an unfortunate choice of wiping leaf while partaking of the outdoors, there’s lots of scratching, being told not to scratch, and probably a hot shower and banana peels applied to the infected areas.

That really is a home remedy for this. You’re welcome.

5. Who is the best football player, papa?

photo credit: Poison Ivy cosplayer via photopin (license)
photo credit: Poison Ivy cosplayer via photopin (license)

The toughest one of the pack, by far. How can you rightly judge who is the greatest? So many positions on a field, so many assignments. Football is a game that is, more than many others, really a team game.

If one part doesn’t perform, the whole thing can crumble, no matter who you have in place at other key spots.

Is the quarterback most important?


Running backs? Wide receivers?

Slotbacks or punters or the dude who holds the ball for kick attempts?

Are we talking all-time? Men of impact and celebrity, such as quarterbacks Joe Namath and Tom Brady? Or legendary linebackers such as Lee Roy Selmon, a top pick on an awful team for a horrible franchise who nonetheless crafted a Hall of Fame career?

Are we talking the current game? Champs such as Aaron Rogers or someone with a ton of records and a ring, such as Drew Brees? A dude who can take over a game on any given play, such as Calvin Johnson?

Are we talking players who make fantasy football players put down calculators and pizza and face the sunlight and society, such as Arian Foster, Ray Rice or LeSean McCoy?

(Nne of whom I’ve ever had on my fantasy teams, but still managed to win a title … I mean, if I were the sort to play such games.)

Are we talking men with cool names, such as Hokie Gajan, I.M. Hipp or Captain Munnerlyn? Maybe Ickey Woods?

Are we talking a player of incredible impact, who could take a team seemingly destined for the worst record in the league, to an improbable winning streak to end the season with a division title, followed by a thrilling overtime victory against the hated Pittsburgh Steelers, and just one victory from an incredible Super Bowl appearance?

A man who makes a grown man believe, makes a grown man feel alive, makes a grown man want to cry like a brace-faced, starry-eyed 13-year-old Christian girl on the day her beloved Denver Broncos traded him to the New York Jets?

I don’t know girls. That one’s too tough to answer.

I need to lay down now. Go and play.

P.S. I miss you, Tim Tebow.


  1. queenofchaosmom says:

    Thank God for Google. It has made me look like I know EVERYTHING!

    1. The gig’s up for me. The girls know I google everything. I tell them it takes high intelligence to think to look on google.

  2. Yup. I remember those days. I expect I will have more of them as a new grandmother. Thanks for the reminders. 🙂

    1. At least now you have Google.

  3. The questions are one of my favorite things about being a mom. And I too am grateful for Google and for the fact that they often still ask me first. I love learning with them!

    1. The questions are awesome. You never know what you’re going to get. I even got one from my 15-year-old recently about mac-and-cheese that’ll be in a future post. Never stop asking!

  4. Mervyn Byrd says:

    Hey Coach, great post. As a Green Bay Packer fan, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the prophecy. I fully receive it. Currently, Aaron Rodgers only has one Super Bowl ring. Apparently, you were getting a premonition about the upcoming season. Here we are going in to the divisional round of the playoffs and A-Rod and The Pack are still alive. Go Pack Go.

    1. Thanks Mervyn. This post was written a while back, and not a single mom reading this caught that little bit in there about Rogers’ ring count. Less confident fans would have called for me to correct it immediately to avoid any jinx! Both your Packers and my Broncos are still in the mix. We might have to make a bet if they both get through the next two rounds!

  5. queenmommyjen says:

    I knew the one about water polo! I once dated a guy who played, incredible abs…. Anyway, it’s a good thing the IOC put an end to infants as the shot put, you know the projectile vomit would have been a mess. I think you and my husband have the same idea for sharing researched questions.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      These are the many questions I get during the Olympics, the Super Bowl, but also the ride home from soccer practice, Jen. (They say a water polo player’s abs are almost as incredible as a dad blogger. I don’t know if that’s true, but … )

      Projectile vomiting, it’s a little known fact, missed Olympic inclusion by one vote in 1992. Dang.

      We dads love it when the kids ask us stuff.

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