Recreational Sports Facilities & Physical Education SAVE Taxpayers’ Money!


You may have been involved in a such a debate – whether your local government should invest in local sports facilities – perhaps to be housed on your school property.

While it didn’t involve school property, my hometown has just been involved in such a political donnybrook. Our mayor, in my mind a forward-looking politician, proposed a multi-use sports facility and performing arts centre for our city of 155,000. This proposal raised the ire of a very vocal group (many of whom are retired citizens who spend their spare hours writing letters to the editor), who want all public monies spent on smoothing the potholes out of local roads.

The arguments of this vocal opposition was that spending money on recreational facilities is a frill, whereas infrastructure spending is a necessity. And of course, the new sports facility would result in an temporary levy in taxes.

It’s the typical argument of the ill-informed…the same type of people responsible for declaring physical education to be a frill subject.

In fact, the opposite is the case. Physical education and the provision of facilities that encourage physical activity are anything but frills. The western world is in the midst of a childhood obesity crisis – a crisis that will result in an astronomical increase in health care costs in the next decade or two. In publicly funded health care systems, like Canada’s, Great Britain’s, and even America’s Medicare, that cost is borne by the taxpayer.

And that cost greatly outweighs the cost of prevention investments such as multi-use sports facilities and qualified physical education teachers.

Is this simple speculation? Absolutely not. A 2004 Queen’s University study has estimated the Canadian cost of inactivity and obesity  (in 2001) to be 9.7 billion dollars!!  In the U.S., in the year 2000, the cost of obesity alone was pegged at 117 billion! It is estimated that the direct medical costs in the U.S., of individuals aged 15 and older, are $330 more per person for those who are physically inactive versus physically active people – multiply that by every person in the country!!

The World Health Organization has stated that investment in sport (time, equipment and facilities) will yield three times that investment in medical cost savings. Any canny investor, seeing a 300% potential profit, would jump on that investment.

The outcome of the debate in my hometown? The pothole people won. Their victory will save them some municipal tax dollars, but it will cost them more in provincial health care taxes. A shallow victory indeed!

By the way, if you want an excellent health-class project for your students, check out out the following website developed by the East Carolina University Department of Health Education and Promotion. It will help you calculate the costs of inactivity in your own community, city, state or business.
Cost of Inactivity Calculator


1. A summary sheet on the WHO/CDC Workshop on Economic Benefits of Physical Activity / Burden of Inactivity, Ashville, USA, 18-22 July 1998.;

2. P.T. Katzmarzyk & I. Janssen, “The economic costs associated with physical inactivity and obesity in Canada: an update.” The Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, February 2004.

3. Michael Pratt, M.D ., et al. “Higher Direct Medical Costs Associated With Physical Inactivity.” The Physician and Sportsmedicine 28(10).Oct 2000.

4. Quantifying the Cost of Physical Inactivity, East Carolina University Department of Health Education and Promotion, 2006.

5. A.M. Wolf, JE Manson, G.A. Colditz, “The Economic Impact of Overweight, Obesity and Weight Loss. In Eckel R, ed., Obesity Mechanisms and Clinical Management.” Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2002.

6. World Health Organization, 2003; Health and Development through Physical Activity and Sport.


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]physical education,inactivity costs,sports facilities,tax savings[/tags]

PE Students Need Senior Citizen Role-Models


One of the primary goals of any physical education program is the development of our students’ ability to maintain an active lifestyle throughout their lives.

I’m the beneficiary of my own school experience in PE and sport. I still play a weekly game of old-man’s basketball – in my old high school gym with some of my old high school schoolmates – in a ritual that has been part of that school since the mid-1960’s. The youngest in our current  group is about 18. But we have two players in their sixties, with the oldest still fast-breaking and hitting the boards at 65. He still has quick feet, a good jump shot and is perhaps the most aggressive player on the floor. We think the pacemaker he had installed three years ago has given him a mechanical advantage.

So, when I heard about Ken Mink, I wasn’t surprised. Ken is a 73-year old grandfather of six, who, after retirement from the newspaper business, realized he had some unfinished business. On the basketball court, that is. In 1956, he was kicked out of junior college for an act of vandalism that he didn’t commit. It seemed to be the end of his basketball career.

But he obviously stayed fit and maintained his skills. So, retired and with time on his hands, he enrolled in some courses at Roane State Community College, in Tennessee, and tried out for the varsity basketball team. His enlightened coach, 50-year old Randy Nesbit, had an interest in the possibilities of athletic performance in older people. He gave Ken a shot, and Ken made the team.

He now plays between five and eight minutes a game, and his opponents don’t take it easy on him. Nobody wants to be the player who let a 73-year old score on him. And in November of 2008, Ken Mink set a Guinness World record, becoming the oldest-ever player in collegiate basketball history to score a point. In fact, he sunk two points, on free throws, after getting fouled while pump-faking an opponent.

And as I’ve pointed out, Ken Mink isn’t the only senior basketball player out there. How about 77-year old Don Morris of San Luis Obispo, California, who shot 84% in the free-throw competition at the recent senior Olympics California state championships, winning a gold medal.  Eighty-four percent! Shaq, give this guy a call.

The point is, students should be made aware of the Ken Minks and Don Morrises of the world, so they know that sport and fitness isn’t just something they do now…it’s something they do for the rest of their lives.

If you want to see some video of Ken Minks and Don Morris, check out the following YouTube links:

Ken Minks – On the Inside Edition

Ken Minks Versus Regis Philbin
(Ken is deadly from 10-15 feet with his set shot).

Don Morris
(Also describes his mental cues for foul-shooting).

Welcome to 2009. I’ll see you in two weeks!


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]basketball,physical education,Ken Mink,Don Morris[/tags]

Backup Players – Always Be Ready to Play


Backup Players – Always Be Ready to Play!

I’m currently reading a book by my favorite author, John Grisham, called “Playing for Pizza. It’s the story of an NFL quarterback – a 3rd-stringer who, through a series of injuries to his team’s top-two quarterbacks, ends up leading his team in the final 12 minutes of a championship game…with disastrous results. He finds himself playing in Italy, where the meat of the story takes place.

While this is a fictional account, the elevation of backup quarterbacks to a starter’s role is a common occurrence in today’s NFL. Here are just a few examples of backups  who are now leading their NFL teams.

Matt Cassel from the New England Patriots, took over from the league’s best pivot when Tom Brady was injured at the start of the season. Cassell hadn’t started a football game since high school. His team is now 8-5 and Cassel appears to be leading the Patriots back to the playoffs. His stock has risen so much that he’ll probably find himself a starter’s role on another NFL team next year.

Aaron Rodgers, of the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers was Brett Favres’ backup at Green Bay for two years. Favre, a legendary iron man who never missed a start, left Rodgers with almost no snaps in a game situation. Rodgers is now the acknowledged starter and while the Packers aren’t playing well, it’s not because of Rodgers.

In San Francisco, J.T O’Sullivan replaced Alex Smith, and was then replaced by Shaun Hill. On November 20th, Hill was named NFC’s offensive player of the week.

The most intriguing quarterback situation is in Cleveland. The Browns are now down to their 3rd-string quarterback, Ken Dorsey, after having lost Derek Anderson, then Brady Quinn, both to injury.  Third-stringer Dorsey’s backup is Joshua Cribbs, who has played the last four years as a kickoff return specialist.

So, a player who returns kicks is one injury away from leading his NFL team – a position I’m sure he never imagined at the start of this season.

The point of all this. If you are a backup…whether it’s in football, hockey, basketball, or any sport…don’t get discouraged. Don’t sit on the bench griping – show your coach that you’re enthusiastic and supportive of teammates. Keep practicing and most of all, keep learning and improving. As these NFL backups-turned-starters can tell you, your time may come!


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]football,backups,quarterbacks,NFL, Playing for Pizza,Grisham[/tags]

It’s Not the Credentials, It’s the Competition


I had a discussion the other day about “Which is more fun to watch, the Canadian football league or the NFL?” My own opinion is that, while I usually watch the NFL, I think CFL games are more fun to watch.

I was in the minority, with the consensus opinion being that the NFL has better players, so it must be more fun to watch. The discussion went something like this:

“Why is the NFL better?”

“Because the players are better.”

“How do you know the players are better?”

“Because they get had paid more.”

“Can you tell that the players are better just by watching?”

“Well no, not really.”

And that’s my point. Once players achieve a certain skill level most people would have a difficult time in distinguishing the best in the world from the also-rans.

CFL players aren’t making the big money in the NFL because they might be half a step slower or 10 pounds too light. But you can’t tell that just by watching them. They have the same skills –  and when you put them on the field with equally matched players, they’re totally indistinguishable from their counterparts in the bigger league.

Last night, I watched the Grey Cup championships on TV – it’s the Super Bowl of the Canadian football league. I channel-hopped back and forth between that game and an NFL contest between the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, versus the Arizona Cardinals and I found myself being drawn to the CFL game. The players, especially the linemen weren’t as big, but the game seemed as fast or faster. The skills displayed were incredible – 50 yard field goals, quarterbacks with rifles for arms, running backs deking and hurdling and receivers making acrobatic catches. The passion for the game they displayed was evident in the number of players in tears during the post-game interviews. If someone had told me these were the best players in the world, I would have believed him.

It’s the same in other sports. With 26 years of track coaching under my belt, I often have trouble determining – when watching the competitors in isolation – who is really running faster in a race.  Do you really think 98% of the population would know – just from watching – the difference between a sprinter running 10.5 or one who is  running 9.8 – or  that an athlete had just set a world record if an announcer hadn’t told them they had?

Ditto for basketball –  I prefer watching the collegiate variety versus the pros. Every collegiate team has players who can dunk, shoot the three-point shot and drive to the hoop at high speed. In fact, so do most high school teams. The difference between them and the pros is that the players tend to be smaller. But is size something that really makes a better viewing experience?

My point is that what truly makes sport exciting is close competition between athletes of equal ability.  And that type of competition might be right in your back yard – in your high school gym or local field.

So, if you haven’t a watched a local sports team play lately, get out there and watch. Whether it’s your local college, high school, or club team, you might be surprised at how skilled the athletes are and how much fun they are to watch.


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]football,Grey Cup,CFL,NFL,competition[/tags]

The Coaching Copyright Problem


Coaches! We have a copyright problem!

That’s right. Today, when I typed the word “coaching” into Google today, here’s what I found on the first page: 22 references, with only THREE referring to actual sports coaching.

What type of coaching did Google find for me?

Peer Coaching.
Executive Coaching
Business Coaching
Life Coaching
Dating Coaches
Conflict Coaches
Dialogue Coaches

These people used to be called consultants, trainers, instructors, guides  and advisors. But that was until marketing geniuses, acknowledging the sport culture that’s so prevalent in our society, decided that connecting to the term “coach” was a better way to sell their services.

I hate it. First, just try to find information on real sports coaching.  Those websites are hidden amid the 19,000,000 internet references to business coaching.

Plus, it diminishes the term “coach.” When I think of coaches, I envision men or women who work with kids, getting up early in the morning or staying late at night so their young charges can play, and dream and excel in the sport they love. Coaches are mentors, parental figures,  guides and role models. True, there are many professional coaches, but most coaches work for little or no pay, giving of their time because of their love for kids and their love of sport.

These original coaches are a much different breed than the professionals who charge mega-bucks to tell business executives how to run their corporation.

“Coach” is the “catch-phrase of the day” for the business/lifestyle/consulting world. It may eventually be replaced by a newer, more snazzy term. But it will have done its damage to the real coaches out there.

Maybe it’s time to consult a legal coach!


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]coaching,coach,coaches,business coach[/tags]

Outdoor Versus Indoor Coaches


There are two kinds of coaches. Indoor coaches, and outdoor coaches. I am both. While I do work on the indoor track for a few months in the winter, most of the time I am outdoors, coaching outdoor track and cross-country.

There are many days when I wish I were an indoor coach ALL year round. Our cross-country race this weekend took place on an unprotected plateau, in gale force winds and a drenching downpour so intense that anybody wearing clothing labelled rain-resistant immediately learned the limitations of the term “resistant.”

My runners and their supporters – 20 of them – tried to stay warm and dry before the race by crowding into an 8 x 8 foot tent. It worked: 20 huddled bodies generates of lot of body heat. However, I couldn’t participate in the collective radiator. There wasn’t enough room for coaches, so I remained outside the tent, trying to look impervious to the cold, the water streaming down my ball cap brim, my wind-pants feeling like an overflowing Depend®…and dreaming I was a basketball  coach..or volleyball mentor…or, at that moment, a full-time indoor track coach.

It’s not just bad weather that gives me indoor-coach-envy. Indoor coaches also have a better deal when it comes to packing for trips. No portable shelters, no rain gear,  no 60-item reminder list, no guessing about footwear or whether the clothing you’ve packed will leave you freezing or dripping sweat. A pair of shorts, sweats and a golf shirt will keep you warm and legally acceptable, and packing them into a tiny travel bag takes only a few minutes.

The tradeoff? Those occasional days when the clouds disappear, the air is fresh, the breeze drops, the sun shines just enough to keep you comfortable, and you know there’s no place better than to be outside, at that place and that time, doing exactly what you love. On those days, the memories of bad weather fade and you know that being an outside coach is the absolute best!


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]coaching,coach,outdoor coach,indoor coach,cross-country running,[/tags]