Quite the Sporty Hat
When one player scores three goals in a single hockey game, it is called a “hat trick.” However, this term actually originated in a 1858 cricket match in England, when bowler H.H. Stephenson hit all 3 wooden stakes behind the batter 3 times in a row, that is, he bowled three consecutive wickets. Money was collected to recognize his impressive feat and used to buy him a hat.
Boxing wasn’t always two predetermined fighters facing off in a square ring. It used to be an actual circular ring with spectators all around who could themselves become one of the fighters. Someone would “throw their hat in the ring” to announce their interest, and the referee would look for a second hat, if needed, to recognize a challenger.
When the competitors were ready, races and fights had to start on a clear, fast signal. Before starting guns, this was often an official dropping a hat or swiftly swinging one downward. Hence, something done or decided quickly is said to be done “at the drop of a hat.”