WTF Fun Fact 13559 – Fun Fact About Football Jersey Numbers

Did you know that some players pick their football jersey numbers based on how slim the number itself might make them look?!

Numbers on a football jersey are more than just identifiers; they may influence our perception of a player’s physique. Recent research from UCLA delves into this intriguing aspect, suggesting that lower jersey numbers might make players appear slimmer.

The Tradition of Football Jersey Numbers

Traditionally, NFL mandated wide receivers to wear numbers between 80 and 89. However, a policy shift in 2004 offered players more flexibility in their choices. Fast forward to 2019, and a significant 80% of wide receivers favored numbers between 10 and 19. Why such a strong shift?

Ladan Shams, a celebrated professor at UCLA in psychology and neuroscience, spearheaded a study to understand this perceptual phenomenon. Published in the PLOS ONE journal, the research comprised two experiments. Observers consistently perceived players donning jerseys numbered 10-19 as slimmer than those in jerseys numbered 80-89, even when the players’ body sizes were identical.

Shams explained, “Numbers written on objects in our daily lives usually represent their magnitude. The higher the number, the bigger the object. Our brains detect and store these statistical associations, which can shape future perception.”

Addressing Skepticism

Considering potential criticisms, the research team conducted a second experiment. There might be a perception that the numeral 8, being wider than 1, could make players appear broader. To counteract this, they used number pairs like 17 and 71, 18 and 81, 19 and 91. The results? Players with higher numbers still appeared huskier, though the effect was slightly muted.

While these perceptions may not directly affect a player’s on-field performance, such biases have wider implications. These biases, often unnoticeable, influence judgments and decisions in everyday life. For instance, implicit biases, rooted in frequently associated negative qualities with a group, can dictate how individuals within that group are treated.

Shams emphasizes the power of representation, “We need to see all kinds of people doing a diverse range of activities. Harnessing the statistical learning ability of our brains can help counteract implicit bias.”

Football, often seen as just a sport, provides a mirror to deeper societal perceptions and biases. While the choice of a jersey number might seem trivial, it offers profound insights into human psychology and perception. As the saying goes, sometimes the details tell the broader story.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Lower jersey numbers make football players look thinner” — Science Daily

WTF Fun Fact 12734 – Man Wins Horse Race

For only the third time since 1980, a human has won the annual Man vs. Horse race. Ricky Lightfoot beat 50 horses (and 1000 other human runners) finishing the 22.5-mile course in 2 hours, 22 minutes, and 23 seconds. He won about $4200 for his efforts – as well as bragging rights amongst friends and foals alike.

IFL Science humorously recounted the beginning of the Man vs. Horse race:

“The idea for the race came, as you might expect, from a drunken argument in a pub. Landlord of the Neuadd Arms in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales, overheard two customers arguing (as you do) over the benefits of people vs the benefits of horses. 

After a few more pints, as was inevitable, one of the men proclaimed that over a long distance people could equal the performance of any horse. Not satisfied with mere speculation, the landlord – Gordon Green – decided that there should be a public competition where this slurred theory could be tested. Every year since then – bar a few years where the event was canceled due to the pandemic – people have raced against horses in a constant battle for supremacy.”

Even more striking is the BBC report that “The winner of the grueling Man v Horse race has revealed he had been awake for 29 hours before the event after flying from Tenerife to claim victory…Landing at 04:00 he travelled to Wales, arriving at Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, at 09:00 for the race start at 11:00. Crossing the line, the 6ft 4in athlete had no idea whether he had won as the people and animals take slightly different routes.”

The 37-year-old firefighter and father of 2 beat the first horse by over 2 minutes. So much for horsepower.

Apparently, Lightfoot’s family couldn’t believe he managed to win the race.

“I called my partner and said: ‘I beat the horse’. And she said: ‘You’re joking?’.
“And I said: ‘No, I did.’ She was like, ‘oh my God!'” he told BBC News.

Prior to the race, Lightfoot said he didn’t have much experience around horses.

“I’ve never rode a horse in my life. I once rode a donkey at Blackpool Pleasure Beach though,” he told the BBC.

After winning, Lightfoot headed right back home to Cumbria to report to work at 7:30 am the next day. – WTF fun facts

Source: “Man v horse: Powys race won by runner Ricky Lightfoot” — BBC News

WTF Fact 12437 – The Speed of Snow

Most snowflakes fall at a speed of 1.5 mph, though some can reach up to 9 mph if they have picked up enough moisture to gain more mass.

Your typical snowflake traveling at a speed of 1.5 mph travels a long way before hitting the ground – 45 minutes to an hour.

Some other fun facts about snow include:

  • Snow is not white, it’s translucent
  • The first ever snowflake photograph was taken in Vermont in 1885
  • Chionophobia is the condition of being afraid of snow (that’s different from simply not liking it, of course)
  • While it can be too warm to snow (of course), it can never be too cold to snow
  • Snow can actually warm you up becase it’s at least 90% trapped air – that’s why animals burrow in the snow for warmth and people can live safely in igloos
  • Each winter in the US, roughly 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (or 1 septillion – that’s 24 zeroes!) fall from the sky

 WTF fun facts 

Source: “10 facts about snow” — Met Office