Rocco’s Attitude Provided a Tremendous Lesson for Aspiring Athletes

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Imagine your sport. Imagine playing the all-time best player in that sport. Then imagine playing that athlete head-to-head in front of the world…and almost beating him/her.

That’s the situation that faced golfer Rocco Mediate in the U.S. Open last week.

Mediate is a 45-year old journeyman golfer – just recovered from back surgery and ranked only 145th on the tour – who found himself in an incredibly surprising and intimidating situation. Barely qualifying for the tournament, he had put together an incredible three days of golf and found himself facing Tiger Woods in an 18-hole playoff for the the U.S. Open championship.

Imagine the potential for disaster. This wasn’t a one-hole sudden-death playoff in which one or two bad shots would end the tournament. It was a full 18-hole extra round, toe-to-toe against the best player in history, with each hole televised for a huge international audience. It represented the potential for a crushing defeat and incredible humiliation.

How would YOU handle this situation? How did Rocco? In fact, he maintained an attitude that I wish every young athlete could replicate. Here are two quotes that demonstrated his approach, both delivered with a huge smile on his face:

“I’m up against the best in the world. Everyone is expecting me to not win, but I can’t wait to see how I do.”

And after Rocco played Tiger, and lost only after 19 holes of intense play.

“I got what I wanted. I got the chance to beat the best player in the world. I came up just a little bit short, but I think I had him scared for a while.”

That’s right. This playoff was a scenario he had dreamed about since he was a kid. It had finally become reality, so I know he felt doubt and anxiety. But he decided to relish the realization of his life’s dream, not fear it.  And this attitude showed on the course. He played loose and relaxed and had fun… and almost won the tournament. In fact, if not for an incredible putt by Woods on the 18th hole to once again tie the game, Rocco Mediate would have won the U.S. Open.

He provides a valuable lesson for aspiring athletes. If you finally get what you’ve been dreaming about, don’t dread it…embrace it!!

Want to see an interview with Rocco Mediate after the tournament. Check out this YouTube clip:   Rocco Interview

By the way – summer vacation is almost here for most of our physical education readership (at least, for those of you in the northern hemisphere), so I’m going to lighten the schedule for the PE Update blog. We’ll publish only every two or three weeks over the summer.  Heck – you’ll probably all be out trying to become the next Rocco Mediate and won’t have time to read blogs!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]golf,sports,attitude,physical education,athletes,Rocco Mediate,Tiger Woods[/tags]

The Balco Performance-Enhancing Drug Regimen

In last week’s article, I described sport in its purest form and how it can reveal the best elements of an athlete’s character. Unfortunately, this week’s post digs into the darker side of athletic competition.

Victor Conte, of the Balco performance-enhancing drug scandal, is now cooperating with drug–testing agencies and has divulged the doping schedule he used with his former client, British sprinter Dwain Chambers.

It’s shocking. Chambers used not one, or two, but SEVEN different performance enhancers, including steroids, insulin and stimulants! And he passed numerous drug tests before finally being caught.

THE DWAINE CHAMBERS DRUG REGIMINE
Here are the drugs he took:

THG. This drug is otherwise known as the designer steroid, “The Clear.” It was used during the off-season on Mondays and Wednesdays – the most intense days for weight training. It was placed under the tongue on those mornings and helped repair muscle tissue damaged during the strength training sessions. The cycle was three weeks on and one week off.

Testosterone/epitestosterone. Applied as a cream in the off-season, its purpose was to replace the deficiency of natural testosterone caused by using THG.

EPO. Thought to be useful only for endurance athletes, it was used to increase red blood cell count, allowing sprinters to perform extra track repetitions. It was used during the first two weeks of every four-week cycle during the off-season. The EPO was injected and is undetectable only 24 hours after an intravenous injection.

Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Injected Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the off-season. It speeds recovery from strength training sessions.

Insulin. Chambers injected it immediately after intense weight training sessions during the off-season, along with a drink containing dextrose, protein and creatine. It promoted muscle repair and growth in addition to packing glycogen into depleted muscles.

Modafinil. Chambers took a tablet an hour before competitions. Acted as a stimulant to reduce feelings of fatigue and improve reaction time.

Liothryonine. This stimulant, designed to improve quickness, was taken one hour before competitions. There is currently no test for this drug.

DRUG USE SUMMARY
So that’s it. Two drugs to promote muscle repair from weight training, one drug to counteract hormone depletion caused by one of these drugs; another drug to allow more training repetitions; one to speed glycogen restoration; and two more to get the athlete “up” for the competition and improve reaction times during block starts. These drugs help the athlete develop a base of strength and fitness that will carry them through the competitive season.

THE DANGERS OF USING THESE DRUGS

What are some of the dangers of using these drugs? Insulin can be overdosed and play havoc with blood sugar levels. HGH can produce cardiac hypertrophy, which eventually can prove fatal. EPO can thicken the blood to the point that athletes can die in their sleep, when their blood pressure drops. And who knows the long-term effects of combining this cocktail of potent drugs.

HOW ATHLETES BEAT THE DRUG TESTS

Is this just a “track and field” program? Of course not. Victor Conte worked with athletes from a number of different sports, including professional baseball.

In fact, track and field has long had the most comprehensive drug testing program of any competitive sport. That’s why it has such a bad reputation for drug use – unlike many of its professional counterparts, the sport has a history of actually catching drug cheats. But how did athletes like Chambers escape the testers?

According to Conte, they used the “Duck and Dodge” strategy. They called their own cell phone until its message capacity was filled. And they filled out incorrect information on their “whereabouts” form, so they couldn’t be contacted. After a cycle of drug use, when they knew they were clean, they would reappear, claiming that their unavailability was a mistake.

Under current rules, athletes are allowed two such mistakes in an 18-month period. Athletes would hope they wouldn’t be contacted for a drug test during their doping cycle, but if they were, they knew they would get two chances before being in danger of sanctions. If they were unfortunate enough to miss a second test “by mistake,” they would simply stop doping.

HOW TO IMPROVE DRUG TESTING

Conte did suggest a method for catching more doped athletes. He strongly advises that most testing be conducted in the fourth quarter of the year, when most drug use is occurring. However, at present only 15% of testing is conducted in this quarter.

Obviously, changes must be made – both in the timing of drug tests and in the penalties applied to those who miss random tests. And there is no doubt that Chambers, and those who follow similar performance-enhancing regimens, did not inadvertently “make a mistake.” Penalties in such a case must be severe and a lifetime ban is definitely appropriate.

Reference: “Victor Conte lays out Dwain Chambers’ doping/steroid protocol; Does Blue Cross/Blue Shield cover this?” Steroid Nation, 5/15/08.
Steroid Nation is an online journal that looks at the use of performance enhancing drugs in sports, youth and society. It is written by Dr. Gary Gaffney, M.D., of the University of Iowa College of Medicine.


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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]performance enhancing drugs,steroids[/tags]

Defeat Reveals an Athlete’s True Character

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A big loss can tell you more about a person’s character than a big win. Defeat tends to strip away our layers of camouflage to reveal the person’s true nature.

I witnessed just such a situation this weekend at the Ontario high school track and field championships (OFSAA). It’s a huge, prestigious, high-pressure event, involving over 2200 athletes plus a stadium-full of parents, spectators and university scouts. The athletes call it “The Show.”

One of my runners had qualified for the sprint hurdle event. She’s a 15-year-old dynamo, with freckles, a huge smile, a quit wit and so much energy that she often bounces up and down when she is talking to you.

She had beaten the odds just to qualify. Although she had been an OFSAA and Canadian Legion finalist last year, she had injured her hip early in the Spring and had barely been able to practice. But she persevered, attended therapy sessions, stopped her other sports (of which there are about five), and got herself healthy enough to advance through the qualifying meets.

In the morning heats at OFSAA, she had run well, qualifying third behind an athlete who had broken the meet record.

The afternoon final was a pressure cooker, run in tropical heat before a capacity crowd. My runner, in lane three, had a decent start and was still in contention when the runner next to her hit the fourth hurdle then took two stumbling steps and fell sideways into my athlete’s lane, flying at my girl’s ankles like a halfback making a cut-block.

My runner was forced to jump sideways to avoid contact, but it put her out of rhythm and slowed her to a near-stop. The race was long over by the time she crossed the finish line, tears streaming down her face.

She was sobbing as she walked off the track, and after a teary hug with Dad and a thrown track spike, stomped off to cool down. With all the adversity she had overcome and sacrifices she had made to get to this race, she was incredibly frustrated, disappointed and angry.

A half hour later, she came back and told me that she’d probably have another cry later by herself, but she’d be OK. She was tough. And it was better that this had happened in the final than in the heat.

Then she said – with a smile – that it was Karma that this had happened. “How so?” I asked.

“Well, when she hit the hurdle, I thought “Good!” So the next thing you know, she’s in my lane. That’s Karma. You shouldn’t think bad thoughts about the other girls when you race.”

Like I said…character!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]track,hurdles,hurdling,physical education,character[/tags]

Masters Basketball Differences

I play in one or two old-men’s basketball tournaments a year (known by the more politically correct as masters basketball tournaments). They are a lot of fun, and are a great way for us over-50 codgers to get a competitive fitness hit.

I have, however, noticed several differences between masters basketball (at least, the way WE play it) and the competitive game from my younger days. For example:

  • You CAN play basketball without having to actually, run, jump or get back on defense.
  • Masters players pass the ball much better than young fellers. Mainly because it’s easier than running! Long fast break passes, however, are usually accompanied by an “ouch” or groaning sound of some sort.
  • Few masters players wear baggy shorts that come down below the knees. Takes too much energy to lift the knees…if we ever get into a situation in which knee-lifting is required.
  • The older the player, the less the feet move on defense, but the harder the hand-checks become. Driving the hoop against a really old player is like running through a threshing machine.
  • Unlike high school players, masters players often don’t WANT to get off the bench.
  • Pre-game nutrition is a different animal. For example, the pre-game breakfast of one of our players this year comprised a plastic container of cold, leftover, hot-sauce chicken wings that had laid on his hotel room floor all night…washed down with some hotel-room coffee. A pre-game meal, by another teammate took place during our normal warmup period and consisted of a club sandwich, fries and a beer. For some reason, he felt sluggish during the game that started 20 minutes later.
  • Apparently, the lifespan of a masters players basketball shoes is 20-30 years. Those sissy high schoolers want a new pair every year!

Masters basketball can indeed be a different game. Ninety per cent of us have realized that we may not make the NBA, but the game keeps us fit and happy and provides a great reason to get together. Having the skills to play, even as we age, is one of the fruits of the physical education and school sports programs we experienced when we were young.

And providing the opportunity for such play for future masters “athletes” is definitely one of the goals of today’s physical educators. Keep up the great work, everybody!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]masters,basketball,physical education[/tags]

Quality Daily Physical Education
Will Reduce Adult Breast Cancer

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New research has revealed yet another reason why quality daily physical education is a must for all students. The study, conducted by Dr. Graham Colditz of the Washington University School of Medicine, found that exercise beginning in the teen years can protect girls from breast cancer when they become adults.

The study tracked 65,000 nurses, questioning them about their activity levels starting at the age of 12.

It was found that the women who were active from their teen years through young adulthood were 23 per cent less likely than sedentary women to develop pre-menopausal breast cancer. It was found that the age period that was most important for sustaining activity levels was 12 to 22.
How much exercise? The women with the lowest risk performed three hours and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as jogging or team sport, per week, or 13 hours per week of walking.

It is believed that exercise reduces women’s lifetime exposure to estrogen, one of the hormones that has been linked to breast cancer.

What is the best way to ensure that girls get this exercise and learn the skills they need to continue into adulthood? Mandatory daily physical education classes – taught by professionals whose focus is on lifetime fitness improvement. Make daily exercise mandatory, and teens will participate. And if they exercise on a regular basis, it will become a healthy habit they will continue throughout their lives.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death among women around the world, with 1.3 million new cases diagnosed every year, resulting in 465,000 deaths.

Lauran Neergaard, “Teen Exercise Protects Against Breast Cancer Later in Life.” The Association Press, May 14, 2008.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]breast cancer,exercise,physical education[/tags]

What Happened to Jim Morris from “The Rookie”

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Jim Morris on Stage at a Speaking Engagement

I watched a baseball movie this weekend called “The Rookie.” It was about Jim Morris, a former minor league pitcher who had retired due to a series of arm injuries to become a high school science teacher and coach in small-town Texas. After losing a bet with his baseball team, he was obliged to attend a major league pitching tryout and found that his fastball, only 86 miles per hour when he was 20, had mysteriously improved to 98 miles per hour. After some hesitation – he was 35 years old and had a wife and three kids – he pursued his dream and eventually made the big leagues.

The great thing about this movie is that it’s a true story and the movie doesn’t exaggerate. Many of the details that seem to be Hollywood fabrications actually did occur. It was indeed his high school catcher who made him promise to try out for a major league team if his under-achieving squad won their division championships. He did travel to an open tryout with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with his three children, – the youngest only one year old – and was changing diapers and playing games with them while waiting to pitch.

And he did get his shot at the Big Leagues – striking out his first batter in the majors – Royce Clayton of the Texas Rangers – in four pitches. And his entire town did indeed show up to watch.

The movie ends on that note. But what happened after his fairy-tale debut in the “Bigs?”

His baseball career lasted only two seasons before his injuries caught up with him again. He finished his major league career with an 0-0 record and an ERA of 4.80 and 13 strikeouts in 21 games. He was released after entering a game against the Yankees with the bases loaded and the score tied – he walked the first batter to lose the game. He tried once more to make the big leagues – the following spring, with the Dodgers, but wasn’t picked up.

What happened to Jim Morris after his baseball career ended? He wrote a book. Called “the Oldest Rookie. It was the basis for the Disney movie. To me, the transition from baseball player to writer could be material for another movie.

What was his salary for that year of baseball? (It was 1999-2000). He made $200,000. I imagine it was significantly better than his salary as a high school teacher.

And what does he do now? He lives in Dallas and is an inspirational speaker who makes appearances for $9,000-$15,000 a shot. You can see his website at: http://www.jimtherookiemorris.com/

There is an excellent 16-minute speech excerpt at the following link. But don’t be surprised – he doesn’t look like Dennis Quaid (star of the Rookie). Here’s an amusing quote from the excerpt:

“Scouts are looking for ball players. Scouts aren’t looking for people who look like scouts.

The excerpt is at: http://www.jimtherookiemorris.com/Movies/1006_HI.wmv

His major league stats are at:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/m/morrija03.shtml

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]The Rookie,Jim Morris,baseball,coaching,physical education[/tags]