Quiz about To an Athlete Dying Young
Quiz about To an Athlete Dying Young

To an Athlete Dying Young Trivia Quiz


With a tip of the hat to A. E. Housman's poem, here are ten athletes who died before their time. Only one was over 30 at his death (32). Each athlete is paired with a phrase from Housman's poetry.

A multiple-choice quiz by shvdotr. Estimated time: 5 mins.
  1. Home
  2. »
  3. Quizzes
  4. »
  5. People Trivia
  6. »
  7. Death Becomes Them
  8. »
  9. Died Young

Author
shvdotr
Time
5 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
382,993
Updated
Feb 20 22
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
560
Awards
Top 10% Quiz
This quiz has 2 formats: you can play it as a or as shown below.
Scroll down to the bottom for the answer key.
1. "The time you won your town the race..." Our first athlete was an American distance runner who competed in the 1972 Olympics. Born in Coos Bay, Oregon, he held the American record in seven different distance events before dying at age 24 in a 1975 auto accident. Who was he? Hint

Jim Ryun
Frank Shorter
Kip Keino
Steve Prefontaine

2. "Smart lad, to slip betimes away..." "Sports Illustrated" used the third stanza of Housman's "Athlete Dying Young" in an article on the 1943 death of the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner. Who was this Iowa Hawkeye who died at age 24 as a U.S. Navy pilot? Hint

Nile Kinnick
Jay Berwanger
Tom Harmon
Alex Karras

3. "The garland briefer than a girl's...." A five-time World X Games champion skier who helped persuade Olympic officials to add her sport to the 2014 Winter Games sadly died at age 29 in a training accident in 2012, before she could compete as the gold-medal favorite in the superpipe event. Who was this Canadian athlete who may have been named after Abraham's wife? Hint

Sarah Burke
Picabo Street
Khadija Hagar
Isolde Kostner

4. "Too full already is the grave...." In the 1972 Summer Olympics held in Munich, Germany, 11 members of one country's team were massacred by Palestinian terrorists. The youngest athlete on our quiz, a wrestler named Mark Slavin, was one of the victims. What nation did this 18-year-old and his teammates represent? Hint

India
Israel
Iran
Iraq

5. "When I was two-and-twenty...." Our next athlete died at age 22 after being chosen second overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1986 NBA Draft. Who was this two-time Maryland All-American who died of a cocaine overdose two days after being drafted? Hint

Len Bias
Hank Gathers
Chris Street
Brian Tribble

6. "Hark, the empty highways crying...." The oldest athlete on the quiz died at age 32 when a helicopter he was piloting crashed on the infield of Talladega Raceway in Alabama in 1993. Who was this 19-time NASCAR race winner and eldest son of a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame? Hint

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Marco Andretti
Richard Petty
Davey Allison

7. "Football then was fighting sorrow..." Our next athlete was an undrafted free agent who took five years to work his way up to starting fullback for the Chicago Bears, only to be brought down by cancer at age 26 in 1970. Who was this Wake Forest running back who led the nation in rushing and scoring his senior year? Hint

Gale Sayers
Alan Ameche
Tom Vaughn
Brian Piccolo

8. "But my day is the day of battle..." Winner of the heavyweight boxing gold medal in the 1952 Olympics, our next athlete died from injuries in a match in 1954 against Willie James. Who was this 24-year-old who never recovered consciousness after being knocked out in the eleventh round of only his eighth fight over his nine-month professional career? Hint

Floyd Patterson
Cassius Clay
Ed Sanders
Ezzard Charles

9. "But let the screaming echoes rest..." In 1920 a Cleveland Indian shortstop became the only Major League baseball player in the 20th Century to die from injuries sustained in a game, after being beaned by Yankee Carl Mays. Who was this 29-year-old who led the American League in walks and runs in 1918? Hint

Lou Boudreau
Danny Ainge
Ray Chapman
Rocky Colavito

10. "Townsman of a stiller town." Our last athlete was the only NHL player to die from injuries sustained during a game in the 20th Century. Who was this 29-year-old Minnesota North Star who scored the new franchise's first goal? Hint

Terry Sawchuck
Tim Horton
Bill Masterton
Glenn Hall


(Optional) Create a Free FunTrivia ID to save the points you are about to earn:

arrow Select a User ID:
arrow Choose a Password:
arrow Your Email:




Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. "The time you won your town the race..." Our first athlete was an American distance runner who competed in the 1972 Olympics. Born in Coos Bay, Oregon, he held the American record in seven different distance events before dying at age 24 in a 1975 auto accident. Who was he?

Answer: Steve Prefontaine

"Pre", as he was known, appeared on the June, 1970, cover of "Sports Illustrated" at the age of 19. In his collegiate career at Oregon, he never lost a race at 5,000 or 10,000 meters, his specialties.

"The time you won your town the race" is the first line of "To an Athlete Dying Young", published by Housman in "A Shropshire Lad" in 1896.
2. "Smart lad, to slip betimes away..." "Sports Illustrated" used the third stanza of Housman's "Athlete Dying Young" in an article on the 1943 death of the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner. Who was this Iowa Hawkeye who died at age 24 as a U.S. Navy pilot?

Answer: Nile Kinnick

As a Navy pilot, Kinnick could "slip the surly bonds of earth," but it was a training mishap which cost him his life on June 2, 1943, off the coast of Venezuela. His plane developed an oil leak that forced him to make an emergency water landing, during which he died.

Considered by many to be the greatest athlete ever produced by the University of Iowa, the school gave his name to their football stadium in 1972.

The full first two lines of the third stanza of "To an Athlete Dying Young" are:
"Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay"
3. "The garland briefer than a girl's...." A five-time World X Games champion skier who helped persuade Olympic officials to add her sport to the 2014 Winter Games sadly died at age 29 in a training accident in 2012, before she could compete as the gold-medal favorite in the superpipe event. Who was this Canadian athlete who may have been named after Abraham's wife?

Answer: Sarah Burke

Sarah Jean Burke died while training in Utah. On January 10 while completing a maneuver on the superpipe, she fell on her head and went into cardiac arrest on the slope. She was flown to the University of Utah Hospital, but died of her injuries nine days later.

In June of 2012 the Canadian Olympic Committee announced that Burke would be inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame for her role in the inclusion of her specialty in the Olympic Games.

The final stanza from "To an Athlete Dying Young":
And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.
4. "Too full already is the grave...." In the 1972 Summer Olympics held in Munich, Germany, 11 members of one country's team were massacred by Palestinian terrorists. The youngest athlete on our quiz, a wrestler named Mark Slavin, was one of the victims. What nation did this 18-year-old and his teammates represent?

Answer: Israel

Mark Slavin was born in Minsk, Belarus SSR, in the Soviet Union. He had moved to Israel just four months before the Games. As a youth he had taken up Greco-Roman wrestling as a defense against attacks made on him for being Jewish.

From Housman's "Last Poems,"Number XXXVIII Oh stay at home, my lad, and plough":
Too full already is the grave
Of fellows that were good and brave
And died because they were.
5. "When I was two-and-twenty...." Our next athlete died at age 22 after being chosen second overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1986 NBA Draft. Who was this two-time Maryland All-American who died of a cocaine overdose two days after being drafted?

Answer: Len Bias

The Celtics' president and general manager Red Auerbach said he'd planned to draft Bias for three years. Bias was twice ACC Player of the Year for basketball and his senior year was named ACC Athlete of the Year.

"When I was one-and-twenty" was also from Housman's "Shropshire Lad." The line quoted in the question was the first line of the second and final stanza.

Street and Gathers were players who passed away during their collegiate careers, Street at Iowa and Gathers at Loyola Marymount. Tribble, a friend of Bias, was indicted for complicity in Bias' death and later pled guilty to being a drug dealer.
6. "Hark, the empty highways crying...." The oldest athlete on the quiz died at age 32 when a helicopter he was piloting crashed on the infield of Talladega Raceway in Alabama in 1993. Who was this 19-time NASCAR race winner and eldest son of a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame?

Answer: Davey Allison

In 1987 Davey was named NASCAR Rookie of the Year. In 1998 NASCAR announced its 50 Greatest Drivers in association with the organization's 50th Anniversary and included him on that list. His father was Bobby Allison. Clifford, Davey's brother, died in a racing accident in 1992.

"Hark, the empty highways crying" is from "IV. Reveille" in "A Shropshire Lad."
7. "Football then was fighting sorrow..." Our next athlete was an undrafted free agent who took five years to work his way up to starting fullback for the Chicago Bears, only to be brought down by cancer at age 26 in 1970. Who was this Wake Forest running back who led the nation in rushing and scoring his senior year?

Answer: Brian Piccolo

Piccolo worked his way into playing time for the Bears after first earning a spot on the taxi squad in 1965, then as a special teams player the next season, and then as a back-up to Sayers in 1967. In the '68 season he finally earned starting status as a fullback before the cancer ended his career and his life. The events leading up to his death were made into two TV movies entitled "Brian's Song."

"Football then was fighting sorrow For the young man's soul." are the last two lines of the first stanza of "XVII. Twice a week the winter through" from "A Shropshire Lad."
8. "But my day is the day of battle..." Winner of the heavyweight boxing gold medal in the 1952 Olympics, our next athlete died from injuries in a match in 1954 against Willie James. Who was this 24-year-old who never recovered consciousness after being knocked out in the eleventh round of only his eighth fight over his nine-month professional career?

Answer: Ed Sanders

Sanders boxed in the U.S. Navy, winning Golden Gloves tournaments in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Berlin. At Helsinki in 1952 he was the first African American to win the heavyweight gold medal and the first American since 1904.

Sanders fought his battles for the Navy as a boxer and very successfully so. "But my day is the day of battle" is from Housman's collection "Last Poems", published in 1922. Although the poem's title is "XIII. The Deserter", there is no intention to imply anything negative about Ed Sanders. The quotation is the last two lines of the fifth stanza, "But my day is the day of battle And that comes dawning on."
9. "But let the screaming echoes rest..." In 1920 a Cleveland Indian shortstop became the only Major League baseball player in the 20th Century to die from injuries sustained in a game, after being beaned by Yankee Carl Mays. Who was this 29-year-old who led the American League in walks and runs in 1918?

Answer: Ray Chapman

Chapman's death was partially responsible for the banning of the spitball. And, although they would not be mandated for another 30 years, the tragedy also brought about calls for requiring batters to wear helmets.

The Housman line is from "Poem XXV: The Oracles", from his collection "Last Poems", published in 1922:

And from the cave of oracles I heard the priestess shrieking
That she and I should surely die and never live again.
Oh priestess, what you cry is clear, and sound good sense I think it;
But let the screaming echoes rest, and froth your mouth no more.
10. "Townsman of a stiller town." Our last athlete was the only NHL player to die from injuries sustained during a game in the 20th Century. Who was this 29-year-old Minnesota North Star who scored the new franchise's first goal?

Answer: Bill Masterton

In the memory of Bill Masterton, the NHL established the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. It is awarded at the end of each season to a player "who demonstrates perseverance and dedication to hockey." Tne North Stars retired his number 19, and maintained the honor after moving to Dallas as the Dallas North Stars.

Our final quote returns us to "To An Athlete Dying Young," stanza two:
To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.
Source: Author shvdotr

This quiz was reviewed by FunTrivia editor bloomsby before going online.
Any errors found in FunTrivia content are routinely corrected through our feedback system.
2/8/2023, Copyright 2023 FunTrivia, Inc. - Report an Error / Contact Us