Frequently Asked Sports Questions

In the 14 years that I have been doing sports statistics, and the 3 years since the launch of, I have found myself answering quite a few sports related questions on a regular basis. This is a list of those questions and answers. If you have a question that you feel deserves to be on this list then please leave a comment down below and I will add it.

Question 1: What is a “gridiron”?

Answer: A gridiron is another name for a football field. The terms Gridiron and Football Field can be used interchangeably. “Grid” in the word gridiron is referring to that fact that the long yard lines combined with the shorter hash marks appear to sort of form a grid. “Iron” in the word gridiron simply gives the term a harder (aka more manly) sounding feel to it. I guess the words “Grid-field” or “Playing-Surface-Grid” don’t sound macho enough. The only people I have ever heard actually use the term gridiron are sports announcers and really excited football fans.



Question 2: What does “get to 5 hundred” -or- “get 500” mean?

Answer: Getting 500 (actually .500) is the same as a team winning half their games. The phrases “.500 games” and “winning 50% of the games played” can be used interchangeably. This phrase comes from elementary school math. When you look at the percentage 50.0% and you convert the percentage to a decimal then you have to move the point to the left 2 places. Thus you end up with .500; From this you can see where a fan of football or baseball would use the sentence “After we win 6 out of 12 games we will get .500 for the season”.


Question 3: Why is Kansas City Football called The Chiefs?

Answer: The Kansas City Chiefs are named after former Kansas City mayor Harold Roe Bartle. He founded the Native American-based honor society known as The Tribe of Mic-O-Say within The Boy Scouts of America. This earned him the nickname “The Chief”. Also it seems to be a tradition in Kansas City to name their sports teams after nobility. The MLB team is known as The Kansas City Royals. Their once was a NBA team called The Kansas City Kings, they since moved to Sacramento. The old Negro League Baseball team was called the Kansas City Monarchs. Please read: How the Kansas City Chiefs Got Their Name


Question 4: What is a Sooner?

Answer: Before 1907 the area that is known today as Oklahoma was known as the Oklahoma Territory. A group of people calling themselves “Boomers” successfully lobbied the U.S. Government to open this unsigned land for settlement. So at noon on April 22, 1889 the Oklahoma Land Run began. There were very few rules regarding the land run but one that was very clear was that everyone participating was to start at the same time. A few people slipped across the line before the official start of the land run and laid claim to land early. Those who went too soon were called “Sooners”. Boomers waited for the gun, Sooners sought opportunity. Please read: What-Is-A-Sooner Please watch: the 1992 movie Far and Away

Question 5: What is “The Game of the Century”?

Answer: The phrase “Game of the Century” refers to a regular season game played between two teams that are ranked #1 and #2 respectfully. This phrase CANNOT be used to refer to any game played after the regular season since post season, playoffs, and championships games are designed to put #1 and #2 teams against each other. Yes, it is possible for there to be multiple “Games of the Century”. Yes, it is possible for multiple teams to lay claim to competing in multiple “Games of the Century”. “Game of the Century” does NOT refer to one particular game being played in a 100 year span. It is simply a title that, on the surface, appears to be misleading.

Example: Oklahoma has competed in 3 “Games of the Century”. November 25, 1971, undefeated and #2 Oklahoma played undefeated and #1 Nebraska in The Game of the Century. Nebraska won 35 to 31.

November 21, 1987, undefeated and #2 Oklahoma played undefeated and #1 Nebraska in The Game of the Century II. Oklahoma won 17 to 7.

October 28, 2000, undefeated and #3 (#2 in the BCS rankings) Oklahoma played undefeated and #1 Nebraska in The Game of the New Century. Oklahoma won 31 to 14. 31 unanswered points.

For other notable references to Games of the Century please see the Wiki article Please Note: Any reference to a post season Game of the Century is incorrect.

Question 6: What are “unanswered points”?

Answer: The term “unanswered points” refers to the fact that one team has scored multiple times in a row while the opposing team has scored none.

Example: The best example of unanswered points occurred in 2000 when Oklahoma played Nebraska, Nebraska scored twice in the first quarter and Oklahoma did not score at all. At this point in the game you would say “Nebraska has scored 14 unanswered points”. Then Oklahoma finally did score in the 2nd quarter thus breaking Nebraska’s unanswered points streak. Then Oklahoma scored twice more in the 2nd quarter, plus a field goal, plus another touchdown in the 3rd quarter. The final score was OU 31, NU 14. Yes Nebraska did score 14 unanswered points but Oklahoma went on to score 31 unanswered points and won the game.

Question 7: What does the term “hang half a hundred on em” mean?

Answer: This term can be traced back to Oklahoma when Barry Switzer was head coach. Switzer’s Oklahoma Sooners were notorious for not only beating their opponents but at times annihilating them. The term is referring to one team scoring 50 points in a single game. From 1973 – 1988 Barry Switzer’s Oklahoma Sooners scored 50 or more point (hung half a hundred on them) a total of 29 times. His best season occurred in 1987 when OU had 5 games in which they scored 50 or more points.

Question 8: What’s the difference between a Forfeit, a Vacated Win, and a Cancelled Game?

Answer: A forfeit can only be enforced before or during a game by a referee calling a Palpably Unfair Act Penalty. In this case all records obtained during the game are null and void and the official final score of the game will be 2-0 in favor for the non-forfeiting team. A forfeit can also be enforced by the governing body of the league after the game has completed (retroactively). In this case the record books are not changed, the final score is not changed, only the winner and the loser are changed. The loser of the game will get a “W” and the winner will get a “L”.

A Vacated Win is generally self imposed after the fact. A team or school will step forward and say “Something happened that was against the rules, we did it, we admit to it, we caught the suspects.” The record books are not changed but unlike a forfeit the loosing team does not get a victory out of it. It is basically as if the game never happened. The losing team still has a loss but the winning team (the team vacating the win) does not get the win. (There are instances of a governing body enforcing Vacated Wins however these cases are generally the result of an ultimatum handed down from the governing body)

A Cancelled Game is the result of a mutual agreement between the two teams prior to the game taking place. A lack of players, lack of proper facilities, extreme weather, all of these things can cause a game to be cancelled. There is also a mutual agreement between the two teams whether or not the game will be rescheduled for a later date or time.

Question 9: What is a pigskin?

Answer: A pigskin is just another name for a football. Typical followup questions: Why it is called that? (We don’t know). Were footballs really made out of pigs skin? (Maybe?). Are football still made out of pigskin today? (We’re guessing most likely not). If you would like to learn more about the materials used to make past and present footballs then is probably not the best place to start looking. I recommend checking out this Wikipedia article.

Questions 10: What is a “pick 6”?

Answer: A Pick 6 occurs when the defense intercepts a pass from the Quarterback and returns it for a touchdown. “Pick” is a shortened word for “Picked Off” and 6 is the number of points the defense scores when they make a touchdown.

Question 10a: What is a “Scoop and Score”?

Answer: A “Scoop and Score” is very similar to a “pick 6”. The only difference is that the term “pick 6” can only be used if a defensive player intercepts a pass and returns it for a touchdown while a “Scoop and Score” occurs when a defensive player picks a fumble up off the ground and returns in for a touchdown. “pick 6” is an intercepted pass for a touchdown, “Scoop and Score” is a fumble recovered for a touchdown.

Question 11: What is a “3 and out”?

Answer: “3 and out” is a term referring to a teams offense failing to move the ball positive 10 yards in the first 3 plays of the drive. After 3 attempts without a first down the offense is then forced to punt. The sentence “There were 3 attempts to get a first down followed by a punt to end the drive” could be used instead of the phrase “3 and out”.

Question 12: What is the difference between an “undefeated season” and a “perfect season”?

Answer: An “undefeated season” occurs when a team finishes a season with zero losses and any number of wins and ties. A “perfect season” occurs when a team finishes a season undefeated and untied. Explanation: Using the term “perfect season” for a team that has a tie is incorrect due to the fact that a tie counts as half of a loss and half of a win, i.e. it wasn’t perfect.

Question 13: Why are tie games handled differently between collegiate and professional football?

Answer: The NFL uses a rule called the “Sudden Death Rule” in the event of a tie. If there is a tie at the end of the 4th quarter then each team will essentially play a 5th quarter. The first team to score a touchback, touchdown, or field goal will be the winner and the game immediately ends. If the game is a preseason or regular season game and the 5th quarter ends with a tie then the game is over and the tie stands. If the game is a post season or playoff game, and the 5th quarter ends with a tie, then the teams will play a 6th quarter. Additional quarters will continue to be added until a team finally scores.

The NCAA uses a rule called the “Overtime Rule”. Which is ironic since the clock doesn’t actually run during a collegiate overtime. The only clock that runs during a collegiate overtime is the play clock. Unlike sudden death each team is given an equal opportunity to score. Determined by a coin toss each team will start their drive from the defenses 25 yard line. After each team is given 1 opportunity to score and the game is still tied then Overtime 1 ends and Overtime 2 begins. Basically this repeats until one team scores and the other doesn’t, or one team scores more points in an overtime than the other team. There is no limit as to how many overtimes can occur.

Both the sudden death rule and the overtime rule are designed to determine a winner in the event of a tie. However it is still possible for an NFL game to end in a tie while it is impossible for an NCAA game to end in a tie.

Question 14: What is a “Cleanup Hitter” or “Cleanup Batter”?

Answer: In baseball, the cleanup hitter (AKA cleanup batter) is the hitter who bats fourth in the lineup. Although the third player up is generally the hitter with the highest batting average, cleanup hitters often have the most power on the team and are typically the team’s best power hitter; their job is to “clean up the bases”, hence the name.

Question 15: What does it mean when someone says that a team “controls it’s own destiny”?

Answer: This term simply means a team enters playoff contention midway through the season and there is no lower ranked team that can leapfrog or jump over them in the rankings. As long as the team continues to win they will make the playoffs.

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