Cambodia Cupping and Coining

In this Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016, photo "cupping" marks are seen on the shoulders of United States' Michael Phelps as he celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's 200-meter butterfly during the swimming competitions at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. U.S. olympic gold medal winner Michael Phelps made the world aware of cupping by showing his marked muscular shoulders before diving into the pool at the Rio games recently, but cupping, and a similar treatment known as coining, have been practiced in East Asia for centuries. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

Mr. Sportsknowitall: Why isn’t poker an Olympic event? What could be more thrilling than winning gold for your country than by hitting an inside straight? K.P.

They used to have tug-o-war, club swinging, plunge-for-distance diving, 100-meter running deer shoot and art competition. Poker has its World Series (seems like every week). You have judges score the way you played. Or you win gold, silver and bronze coins.

Mr. Sportsknowitall: Some Olympic athletes have employed cupping, the practice that leaves round splotches on the skin that make them look like victims of the salt vampire from the original "Star Trek." Does this work? Have you ever used cupping to improve your performance? T.W.

It seems to work by bringing blood to the affected area. Michael Phelps loves it. Some use acupuncture, some meditate and some slap themselves silly before a contest. (Note: The salt vampire was from planet M-113). I used a version of cupping when I was in Little League and Mittendorf Funeral Homes coach Robert Moorie could use a bat to make sure we wore our cups. Many Olympic swimmers wear a parka to the pool, then splash on cold water to cool off. Some wear two swim caps — one for keeping the goggles on and the other for aerodynamics.

Mr. Sportsknowitall: What is a walk-off in baseball? L.C.

Think of sudden-death playoff in football. When the winning run is scored by the home team in its last at-bat, by home run, triple or in the case of the Cubs in the 11th inning Thursday, a bases-loaded walk, that is a walk-off win. Get a walk-off win and you walk off the field and celebrate. Have a walk-off against you, and you hang your head in shame.

Mr. Sportsknowitall: Should Tommy Armstrong add “Omaha" to his snap count the way Peyton Manning did for the Broncos? J.M.

Armstrong might pick a Nebraska city or town for each play and try to name all 93 counties and the county seats.

Mr. Sportsknowitall: Are the Rangers on the hook for Prince Fielder’s $96 million contract even though he is done with baseball? V.S.

Actually, it works out to $106 million to not play.

Mr. Sportsknowitall: If the Olympics give medals for butterfly, breaststroke, backstroke and freestyle, why doesn’t track give out medals for running forward, backward, sideways and on your hands? R.J.

Pole vaulting while people throw water balloons at you, speed golf combining sprinting and golf, Ministry of Silly walks in track and adding swashbuckling to foil, sabre and epee for fencing. Or race to build a real fence. And let’s add rodeo for the next Olympics.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7313 or khambleton@journalstar.com. On Twitter @PanchoHam.


Ken grew up in Chicago and is a Doane College grad. His Mr. Sportsknowitall column appears Sundays, and he covers a variety of beats.

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