Go Ask Daddy About High Altitude, Olympic Fortitude and Octopus Super Powers


photo credit: Brintam via photopin cc
photo credit: Brintam via photopin cc

Sometimes, the idea in your head sputters on the turf.

GAD GRAPHICLuckily, it was just practice. My mind drew up a box with two teams of eight, a 1v1 battle inside, passing out of the box. It looked lively in my mind, challenging, ever-changing, active. I split my squad up and put everyone in place.

The two girls in the middle immediately faced off.

Only, they didn’t know what to do next.

Wait! I said. This line should be here. That line should be over here. OK, start!

Nope. It still didn’t add up.

I scooped up the ball and bit my lip. My players – U14 girls who’ve captured my heart, if not any wins yet – closed the ranks around me.

“Maybe if this line went over here, coach,” one offered. “No, that still won’t work. Where will she pass the ball if she wins it?” I paced off 12 yards, and the girls followed. Would they doubt my ability to coach? My grasp on reality?

“Wait, coach! What if we did this?” Nope. It still didn’t work.

“It worked in my head. I swear it did,” I said as I conceded defeat.

I gave them something new to do, and we were fine. One girl walked behind and stood next to me. “Don’t you hate when it makes sense in your dreams,” she said, “but then in real life …”

I did dream of it, I told her. And it’s unusual. Usually my dreams involve Jennifer Lawrence. And pizza.

Maybe the answers today will work out better.

1. Don’t they have oxygen tanks on the sidelines of football games in Denver?

Yes. The Broncos aren’t the only Mile High team that uses the altitude as an edge.

For years, the NBA’s Nuggets have employed a fast-break, run-and-gun offense. If not successful, it’s often entertaining. Denver lost 186-184 in triple overtime to the Detroit Pistons in 1983.

Four players finished with 40 points or more, and the Pistons kept pace with Denver’s fast break.

It’s one thing when you’re the svelte jump shooter like Alex English. When you’re a 340-pound lineman wearing a helmet and shoulder pads, the altitude takes a different toll.

Our bodies are at their best at sea level. Oxygen concentration is 20.9%.

Life is good.

As you climb the mountain, though, that decreases. Unless you’re Lance Armstrong, the adjustment is tough. Denver teams are built for this: The NHL Avalanche usually has small, fast defensemen.

MLB’s Rockies look for power hitters. A baseball travels farther in the thin air.

So yeah, that’s oxygen you see players sucking down on the sideline. There are few sights in sports as beautiful as a raiders lineman gulping oxygen. Especially as he looks with disdain at a 27-0 deficit on the scoreboard at Mile High Stadium.

2. What’s the record high score in figure skating?

photo credit: { QUEEN YUNA } via photopin cc
photo credit: { QUEEN YUNA } via photopin cc

It’s just a bit higher than the Nuggets or Pistons could muster.

South Korea’s Yu-Na Kim racked up a 228.56 at the Vancouver Winter Games in 2010. It represented a combination of her short and long programs.

In 2003, the International Skating Union adopted a new scoring system. Seven years later, Yu-Na blew the roof off it.

The judges probably needed a little oxygen after that action.

3. Has there ever been a deaf Olympian?

photo credit: jpeepz via photopin cc
photo credit: jpeepz via photopin cc

Thirteen deaf athletes have competed in the Olympics. Italian boxer Carlo Orlandi was the first. He won gold at the Amsterdam Games in 1928. He beat American Stephen Halaiko in the lightweight final.

In those same games, Donald Gollan won silver with Great Britain’s rowing team.

Jeffrey Float was the first deaf American to win a medal, in the Los Angeles Games in 1984. He qualified for the 1980 games in Moscow, the Olympics that the U.S. boycotted. He was captain when his 4×200-meter relay team won gold. Since 2004, the U.S. has had at least one deaf athlete in the Olympics.

They are: Basketball star Tamika Catchings (Athens, 2004); diver Chris Colwill (2008, Beijing) and volleyballer David Smith (2012, London).

There’s even a deafylmpics held every four years. It’s the longest running multi-event sport after the Olympics.

4. Who has won the most gold medals in the Olympics?

photo credit: marcopako  via photopin cc
photo credit: marcopako  via photopin cc

Love all these questions about sports lately.

You know that lanky dude in Subway commercials? Not Jared. The tall guy. Michael Phelps. He has – get this – 18 gold medals. I’m not sure I have 18 pairs of socks. He won eight of those in the Beijing Games in 2008. His haul was so significant that China’s GDP dropped 13 points when he passed customs.

In three straight Olympics, he won more medals than anyone.

He’s a cool guy and approachable. I got to interview him a few times at the UltraSwim in Charlotte. He gets a bad rap, but did you know he turned a $1 million endorsement payout into creating the Michael Phelps Foundation.

5. How do octopuses change colors?

photo credit: Wonderlane via photopin cc
photo credit: Wonderlane via photopin cc

What happened to the sports theme?

Octopuses (it’s okay to call them that – I heard it on NPR) need to change colors to hide from red wings fans. Those hooligans have embraced the tradition of tossing their carcasses on the ice during hockey games. It started back in 1952. As recently as 1995, wings fans lobbed 16 octos on the ice – one that weighed in at 38 pounds.

Octopuses are like living LED screens. They have thousands of chromatophores just under their skin. These are cells that allow an octopus to change color to blend into its surroundings.

Each has a bag of pigment that expands and constricts to give our favorite cephalopod a new hue to suit his needs.

The blue-ringed octopus is venomous, and considerate about it. If you bug one, it’s light up with iridescent blue rings to warn its antagonist it means business.

It’s pretty brilliant.

More brilliant than I could ever dream up.

octopus quote

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36 thoughts on “Go Ask Daddy About High Altitude, Olympic Fortitude and Octopus Super Powers

    1. Very sports-slanted Holly – it’s always interesting to me, because I pick from more than 200 questions I’ve piled up from them using random.org. Hope you learned a little!

  1. The octopus quote made me laugh and cringe at the same time. Can you imagine the sound that makes? Thwack.

    You have some very wise souls on your team. I love that line about dreams.

    1. I guess the term for it must be something like, “he got octopussed in detroit.” The sound must be cartoony. Thwack is right.

      This team has this way of making me feel I’m doing things right way more than I’m doing things wrong. They think, they love, they play, and they trust. I’m learning a lot just from their company.

  2. Another awesome set of questions…Michael Phelps is coming back? He was in Pan Am qualifications or something like that. Happy to hear that he isn’t an a-hole from your experience.

    Qwitchercomplainen Pat. If that is the worst thing that happens to you…

    1. Michael Phelps has been in the news lately for not-so-good things lately, but I wanted to concentrate on the positive. You’re right, he just won three medals last month.

      He’s a good dude. But now, the morning after, I feel wrong for having swept his recent DUI arrest under the rug because he’s a gracious interview.

      You’re right – if getting octopussed is the worst thing that happens to you at a wings game … you’re lucky!

      1. I didn’t know about his DUI. I wonder how that will play out, given his status. Is his case going to be Michael Phelps the average person…or Michael Phelps the Olympic miracle swimmer? Will money talk?

      2. I hope he gets help, if he needs it. Gonna see how the justice system plays this one . Does he get to drive without IID…does he have to do VIP? Curious.

  3. I love trivia nights, and I definitely want you on my team 🙂 I wonder how many people know about the Michael Phelps Foundation? Not as many I would think who know about his recent incident of DUI. Yes, he shouldn’t have done it, but this is what people will dwell upon rather than the good he has done or his sporting prowess.

    1. The more obscure the trivia, the better. Probably no one knows about the Michael Phelps Foundation, because that’s not what grabs the headlines.

      No matter what, he’s an incredible Olympian and I’m not sure we’ll see another like him in our lifetime.

      1. Exactly right Eli, how many newspapers would “Phelps starts Foundation to help Kids” as a news item sell? He was born to swim! I think the closest we Aussies have to his talent is Ian Thorpe with his five gold medals. All up, Phelps won 56 gold medals (Olympic, Pan Pacs, World Championships) and Thorpie only won 37.

      1. All store bought – and somehow they all coordinated to have the same brand. That it there was a sale. The university later asked everyone to quit wasting food – and to go donate it if they insisted on buying extra tortillas.

      2. Store-bought feels a little less tragic, but still. Things tossed on the ice (or court) shouldn’t be sponsored. That’s a lot of tacos potentially. Or quesadillas.

  4. Yeah, why is it that some things make perfect sense in a dream, but in real life..?

    I missed reading about Octopusses on your blog. There haven’t been many sea creatures lately anyway. I think they had to make way for cinnamon rolls, which is fine, too.

    I have a sports story for you:

    Our friends’ place we’re staying at up here in British Columbia is the place Carey Price started to play hockey. Actually his family lived a 3 hours’ ride away. Dad got tired of driving his son to and from practice and games. You know what he did? Not every Dad has the funds for it, though: he bought a plane!! Talk about a more efficient commute, right? And Carey paid him back big time. MVP, gold medal winner, the whole nine yards. We learned about it at the local “cowboy hall of fame”!

    1. I guess that’s what makes them dreamy.

      There’s definitely room for sea creatures and cinnamon rolls. There’s stuff about Lance Armstrong and mascots made of wheat. And a theoretical about Jimmy Hendrix.

      Impressive about the plane. I once splurged and bought Grace and I both burgers for dinner.

  5. When I was in Windsor, we used to go to Red Wings games all the time… you could see people bringing the octopus in with coolers. not even trying to hide it. that was years ago… have they since cracked down?
    There are deaf super heroes too. I was a bit disappointed that Marvel did not include the fact that the Hawkeye character is deaf and Tony Stark made him hearing aids. Maybe next film, since Hawkeye is supposed to actually show up in the next Avengers. I may need oxygen 🙂

    1. a wings fan, behaving brashly? I think they still do it – and the Florida Panthers, the 20 minutes they were good, used to play with plastic rats raining down on the ice.

      Maybe you should head up the committee to exploit, I mean, emphasize the particulars of Hawkeye, head to toe. You up for the challenge?

  6. Nice that you can turn a question about octopuses (really..that’s ok?) into a sports theme. That, my friend, is a gift! I had no idea they threw them onto the ice like that. That’s really kind of gross. I read Rabia’s comment above and I love the idea of Truths and a Lie. Can’t wait for that one!

    1. There’s always a way, Sandy. A gift or a curse, I won’t turn away from it! Not ALL hockey fans partake. Some wear magenta and blue and have a bit more … dignity.

      Rabia’s great for ideas, and I think I even know which question to lie about.

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