THE UNIVERSE IS composed of classified information, slowly revealed over centuries in the striptease of human discovery. "Isn't it astonishing," asked Orville Wright, "that all these secrets have been preserved for so many years just so that we could discover them!"
In this era of WikiLeaks and WakeyLeaks, of Russian hackers and reality TV—when even your Secret Santa is revealed as Barb from Human Resources—it's a wonder any secrets remain. And yet sports are full of closely held confidences: the eternal mysteries of Deflategate, all those basketball practices closed to the prying eyes of the press, the chemical composition of Dippin' Dots. Until now, that is. On the theory that sunlight is the best disinfectant, here at long last are sports' biggest secrets revealed. Destroy after reading:
• Just before the ribbon-cutting for every new gym, a red rubber kickball is placed in the rafters, next to a semi-flaccid Mylar balloon.
• Stadium draft beer, like Edison's definition of genius, is 99% perspiration.
• Here's an ancient Chinese proverb that even the Chinese don't know yet: "If your house catches fire and a man arrives with a bucket of water, may he not be a member of the Harlem Globetrotters."
• Two of sports' most vexing questions—"Who let the dogs out?" and "Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?"—have the same answer. His name is Vance, and he lives in Pine Bluff, Ark.
• Pick a number between two and six. Any number at all. Got one? Good. That's how soccer refs calculate injury time.
• After many years of donning and removing his cumbersome costume, the famed San Diego mascot developed a repetitive-stress injury known as Chicken Fingers.
• When football coaches hide their mouths behind oversized laminated play cards, they are—in almost every single instance—talking about you.
• When the going gets tough, the tough get Texas attorney Rusty Hardin.
• The Pro Bowl hasn't been played in 37 years. Since then networks have annually re-aired—without complaint from a solitary viewer—the 1974 game, a 15--13 nail-biter won by the AFC.
• Human despair has a physical form with the viscosity of 40-weight motor oil that liquefies at 933 Kelvin. It is the principal ingredient in nacho cheez.
• For one giddy night out in 1997, J.D. Salinger enjoyed a basketball game as the Phoenix Suns' Gorilla.
• An iron law known only to wait staff: The running back who gives 110% on the field gives 6% on the gratuity line.
• The 1985 NBA draft was indeed fixed by commissioner David Stern, but not so the Knicks could pick Patrick Ewing; rather, so the Mavericks could select Uwe Blab.
• The Super Bowl trophy will always be awarded disproportionately to the Bills—Bill Walsh, Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Bill Cowher. (This law is void in Buffalo.)
• Here's something only highway patrolmen know: Correctly pronouncing Giannis Antetokounmpo is a field sobriety test in nine states.
• The mysterious figure wearing sunglasses and a fake mustache in the home dugout at Shea Stadium in 1999 wasn't Mets manager Bobby Valentine but rather fugitive hijacker D.B. Cooper.
• Professional wrestling is real and unscripted. Cal's five-lateral kick return into the Stanford band was meticulously plotted a year in advance.
• If Bill Belichick ever sits next to you on an airplane, you'll discover it for yourself: He. Won't. Stop. Talking.
• As part of a clandestine experiment performed in 2007, researchers reanimated a dead raccoon with one spritz of the magic spray that trainers apply to instantly heal soccer players.
• As for every other mystery: Of course the footballs were deflated. Yes, Liston took a dive in his rematch with Ali. You're damn right Ruth called his shot. And finally, as you might have guessed, it is about the money.
Sports are full of closely held confidences: the eternal mysteries of Deflategate, practices closed to the prying eyes of the press, the chemical composition of Dippin' Dots.
What other sports secrets are ready to be unveiled?
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