Officials Might be Tougher Than Athletes

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Some of the National Football League games this weekend were conducted in blizzard conditions – it was exceptionally enjoyable watching them from in front of my fireplace on my LazyBoy chair.

In the Buffalo versus Cleveland snow-bowl, you’d see the players complete their series of downs in the driving winds and ankle-deep snow, then head for the sidelines and their blankets and heaters. But you know who didn’t have the option of heading for the sidelines? The officials – they were on the field for both offensive and defensive play, dressed in skimpy referee shirts, and doing more standing than running. Youch – it made me shiver as I sipped my hot chocolate and put another log on the fire.

And it made me think of the Canadian Cross-Country Running Championships that I wrote about two weeks ago, and the cold, snowy conditions that faced the athletes…and the officials there.

The officials and race organizers were stuck outside from long before the race began, to long after: setting up, getting the races started, collecting and compiling results, and finally, retrieving the course marking, long after the party had disbanded – unlike the athletes, who warmed up, raced, then headed for their warm van or tent.

In my sport, track and cross-country, most officials are volunteers. And most are committed to a long watch – in the case of championship track meets, often two or three days at a time. And if the weather is bad (and I’ve been to many meets where it has been raining and barely above freezing), well, tough – they can’t escape the elements like the athletes and coaches who often sit in their shelters griping about why the meet is running so slowly.

To tell you the truth, I’ve never been able to figure out the motivation of these officials. But whatever that motivation is, I’m grateful for it. Without dedicated officials, our sport…any organized sport…could not exist.

So, as the year winds down, thanks to all the officials of outdoor sports: the soccer, rowing, track, football, (and many more) officials who must brave the elements and without whom there would be no organized competitions. Have yourself a great holiday break…we’ll be needing you in 2008!

By the way, we have readers from over 17 countries now, and many of you may never have seen football in the snow. So, to take a look at the game I was watching yesterday, check out this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTN-MSsOssU

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]football,physical education,sports,officials[/tags]

Team Christmas Parties

Xmas Elf

One thing that has become a tradition with my track club (for over twenty years) and now my university team, is the annual Christmas party.

Every year around this time we get together at our house for a potluck supper and other festivities, including the showing of race videos, a slide show put to music, annual awards presentations, and finally, a cutthroat Kris Kringle.

So, last night we held my university team’s Christmas party. As always, it was an informal affair. My wife, Terry, dresses like a Xmas elf. She loves the job, which includes hosting the Cutthroat Kris Kringle. There are many rules for Kris Kringles, but the way we operate it , everybody brings a wrapped gift costing less than ten dollars, then writes their name on a slip of paper and puts it into a container. The Christmas elf selects the first name – that person chooses a gift from under the tree, then selects the next name. Each subsequent person has the option of either selecting from under the tree, or stealing a gift from someone who has already selected. It’s a lot of fun, especially when athletes, who tend to be rather competitive, start to steal from each other. However, everyone realizes it’s all in good fun and the hooting and hollering keep it that way. By the way, some items get re-gifted and return year after year. With us, it’s a furry jock-strap and a rubber snake – they’ve become part of the Christmas party tradition.

The video and slide show have become easier to produce as technology has improved. I usually bring a camera and camcorder to all our competitions, and assign an athlete or parents to be the camera person for the day. By the end of the year, I end up with a great visual history of the season. At the party, I just run the videos off the camcorder, but with the photos, I produce a slideshow with a soundtrack. Technology has made this easy – I use a Macintosh, and programs like iPhoto and Expressions (my favorite), make it a snap to organize the digital photos and produce a professional-looking slideshow. The soundtrack just comes from mp3’s already on my computer.

I call the awards the “Annual Turtle Awards,” because the actual award is a Turtle candy that I toss at them (I call it the Slowpoke Awards for my university crew, because we hand out Slowpokes). The awards are tongue-in-cheek and are based on some of the funny occurrences throughout the year. For example this year’s awards included “The Worst Sense of Direction Award,” the “Kamikaze Start Award,” and the “Just Shoot Me” award.

As for the “Quotes of the Year” award, throughout the year, I do my best to immediately write down the funniest comments before I forget them. I end up with a collection of these quotes on the back of file folders, napkins and slips of paper. It’s a hoot to recite the quotes during the party, and once I compile them on the computer, they become a permanent reminder of the fun we’ve had and all the crazy characters I’ve coached over the years. Some of this year’s quotes included “I used to be obsessed with Mr. Bean. I used to pretend I WAS Mr. Bean (strange coming from a female runner), “I feel sorry for whoever dates me,” and “Is that a mitochondria in your shorts, or are you just happy to see me.” The winner was, “We’ll give you chocolate…and ice cream…and BEER, if you stop at the mall on the way home!” (I did…but they didn’t).

A Christmas part takes some preparation but it’s a lot of fun. It becomes a gathering point for athletes and alumni every year, and it’s one of the things that makes Christmas feel like Christmas for Terry and I.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,coaching,Christmas,party,team,sport,sports[/tags]

A Canadian Cross-Country Running Experience

Cross-Country Running Photo

Well it was an interesting weekend. I made the six-hour drive to Guelph, Ontario, for the Canadian Cross-Country Running Championships. For those of you who know what Canada is like in December, you might be asking, “But wasn’t it cold? Wasn’t there snow?” The answer is yes, it was cold, and yes, there was snow.

In fact, we drove down in a blizzard. A French exchange student who runs with our club (I coach at Laurentian University and with Sudbury’s Track North Athletic Club), received a true Canadian experience during the drive. He was a little wide-eyed during the near white-out conditions, his comment being, “In France, if it’s like this, we don’t leave the house.” To his credit, he later raced in his shorts.

On race-day, the temperatures was about -8 centigrade (18 degrees fahrenheit), and the course itself was hard-packed snow. It looked like a nordic ski course.

But it was a great event, with music blaring and a group of local drummers heating up the atmosphere. The snow had stopped by race day, and it was a beautiful, sunny day. The footing was OK, since the race organizers had packed it down with a tractor and roller.

Besides, cross-country runners are hardy folk. For most, the worse the conditions, the more fun they have.

This blog has readers from many countries, including places that never see snow, such as Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Malasia, and Australia. For those of you who want a Canadian athletics experience, check out the following FloCast footage of the race.

FloTrack, by the way, is a tremendous website for those of you who are athletics fans. It provides video coverage of many athletics events…in particular, the events that the mainstream media ignores in lieu of Rock, Paper, Scissors tournaments. 🙂

Here’s the link. If you want to see other races from the meet, the links are on the top left. For a school perspective, the Junior races are for athletes under 20. While they include some runners in their first or 2nd year of university, but most are high schoolers. For example, Kendra Schaaf, who won the Junior Girls race, is still in high school.

http://www.flocasts.org/flotrack/coverage.php?c=130&id=6150

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]cross-country running,athletics,sports,physical education, coaching [/tags]

Rock, Paper, Scissors Sports Channel Coverage

Rock, Paper Scissors

In an age in which legitimate sports like track and field , amateur wrestling , lacrosse, rowing — in fact most Olympic sports — struggle to get any television coverage whatsoever, I have just seen the ultimate sports television travesty .

Yes, I just witnessed the USAPRS League Championships on ESPN2.

What is the USARPS, you might ask? Well, it’s the United States Rock, Paper, Scissors League.

That’s right. Full sports television coverage of a rock, paper, scissors tournament. Tongue-in-cheek? Perhaps, but not to ESPN, who have given it a national audience and more airtime than many legitimate sports.

The League is sponsored by Bud Light, has a grand prize of $50,000 for the championship and features competitors like “Shears” Maanum, who competes while wearing a hooded, silk boxers’ warmup top.They compete inside a small ring and the commentary features terms like “cradling the pump” and “speed pumping.”

Don’t believe me? Check out the USRPS League website. The World Rock, Paper Scissors Society is also a must see, and includes information on Gambit Play, such as “The Avalanche,” in which the player employs three “Rocks” in a row. According to the website, this gambit” is a relentless and devastating offensive maneuver, which requires bravado bordering on recklessness to execute.”

Indeed.

And if you really want to see some hard-hitting athletic action, check out this video at YouTube.

Tongue-in-cheek? Perhaps. But not to ESPN, who have given it a national audience, and more television coverage than many legitimate sports, involving real athletes.

Hmmm…sports channel coverage of spelling bees, poker, and now rock, paper scissors. What’s next— Full college scholarships for Rock, Paper Scissors? NBC coverage of the Channel Changer Time Trials?

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]sports,physical education,coaching,rock paper scissors[/tags]

He’s Not My Quarterback…He’s My Linebacker!

Linebacker - Football Player Making a Tackle

Is your football defense getting dominated up the middle and outrun around the ends? If so, maybe you have the wrong athletes playing linebacker.

According to Sports Illustrated, the latest trend in defense is to emphasize speed over size when selecting linebackers. The position is so important in defense, that many coaches are putting their best players – from both offense and defense – in that position.

Where do you find these players? Possibly among your tailbacks and even quarterbacks. Joe Lemire, High School Football, Quick Hitters, Sports Illustrated, September 10, 2007.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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Snow Swimming in Finland

It’s February and for those of us in northern climates the ground is covered with snow. The key to dealing with a long, snowy winter, is to either embrace it or leave it. The Finns have definitely learned how to embrace it – I doubt there’s a country in the world with a higher participation rate in cross-country skiing.

However, nordic skiing isn’t the only snow-related sport in Finland. For example, what do Finns do when their swimming pools freeze over? Well, they swim anyway!

This video of the Finnish snow-swimming championships should be good for a laugh (although I’m not sure about its applicability to your physical education classes). I particularly like the snow-swimming flip turns.


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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To check out the PE Update.com website, click here
Physical Education Update

[tags]physical education,snow swimming in Finland,swimming in the snow>[/tags]