Monday, August 02, 2010

Sporting Scoring

In tennis, the reason a score of zero is called "love" is because it is a transliteration of the French word "l'eouf" -- the egg. It's just a version of the term "goose egg" we use in English as a result of the shape of the zero. The other scores come from the way score was kept in early matches. Because you have points, games and matches to keep track of, score would be kept on two clocks instead of a scoreboard since each clock had three hands -- a second hand, a minute hand, and an hour hand whose positions could tell you the complete score second hand = point, minute hand = games, and hour hand = sets. On the first point, the second hand would be moved a quarter the way around, or to the 3 which for seconds is 15. On the second point to the six, or to 30 seconds... When on player wins his clock is wound forward, making the minute hand move to 1, showing the number of games won in the set. The losing player's clock is wound backward to the starting point.

In baseball, the reason that k is used to denote a strikeout comes from the original system developed by Henry Chadwick, the man credited with popularizing the sport. He was a Brit moved to America who was a sportswriter in New York reporting on cricket when he discovered baseball and decided to report on it as well. He would write up articles on the first professional games and in an effort to convey more information created the box score and the symbols needed for it. Since S was needed for a number of other terms, he used the last letter in "struck" to abbreviate struck out. He also introduced the batting average for hitters and the earned run average for pitchers.

In bowling, the reason three consecutive strikes is called a turkey comes from a marketing ploy from a New England bowling alley at the turn of the last century. Around the holidays, if anyone threw three strikes in a row, he would be awarded a live turkey. The name stuck.