Fashion Versus Functionality in Sport & Eyeglasses

Glasses_blog2As I was recently watching the world’s women’s curling championships, I was struck by the number of participants who were wearing the latest fashion in eyeglasses –  spectacles with extremely wide arms and transparent rims. In many cases, they made a probably-attractive wearer look very severe.

I know they’re the latest fashion because I just purchased some new glasses and the optometrist was pushing hard for me to get that latest look. You can call me an old fogey, but while this style may be the latest thing, I think they’re often unattractive.  And I also believe they aren’t as functional as narrow-armed glasses because the wide arms block your peripheral vision.

When you think of it, why would eyewear even have a “latest fashion?” Surely there are specific styles that work best with the shape of your face – and that has nothing to do with the latest fashion. And from a functionality standpoint, glasses that completely block your peripheral vision certainly won’t help your driving record.

The fashion phenomenon is common in sport as well as in eyewear, and often to the detriment of athletes. Running shoes are the best example. In order to stimulate sales, running shoe companies change their models every year or two. That way, their products always have the “latest features” that make their predecessor obsolete. The unfortunate result is that athletes, whose old shoes were ideal, must now wear new-and-improved models that neither feel nor work as well as the old model.

In sport, as in eyewear, following the latest fashion often benefits nobody but the manufacturers.


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]sport equipment,sport fashion,running shoes,running shoe models[/tags]

Why the Olympics are So Addictive


The Winter Olympics are over, and if you’re like me, you’re feeling a huge void in your life! That’s particularly true here in Canada, where Olympaholics like myself became accustomed to following the Games in the mornings, at the office, during meals, in the shower, and late at night.

It’s interesting, but for those 17 days, I completely forgot about the Toronto Raptors, a team I’d been following before the Olympics. Somehow, the struggles of the millionaire players on that squad seemed inconsequential compared to the efforts of the world’s snowboarders, curlers, nordic skiers, ice dancers,  skeleton racers, and bobsledders, many of whom live below the poverty line.

I was particularly interested in the efforts of two athletes, Canadian hockey player Rebecca Johnston and cross-country skier, Devon Kershaw. I coached them both in their high school days, when they were competitive runners in addition to being phenoms in their chosen sport.

They were both excellent runners, having won medals at the provincial, and in Rebecca’s case, the National Junior level (in the 400m).  I can take absolutely no credit for their Olympic success – they made wise choices in specializing in sports other than running. But it sure was fun watching them perform at the highest level, at our home Olympics, under the most intense scrutiny they’ll ever face.

Rebecca, a speedy forward on the team’s “energy line,” won a gold medal in hockey – Canada’s game- with every eye in the country watching her every move! At only 20 years of age, she played with incredible composure and was a threat to score every time she took the ice.

Devon helped put Canada’s men’s team on the map in cross-country skiing, placing a surprise fourth in the men’s team sprint (a two-man relay), then a shocking fifth in the 50km mass start – the most prestigious of the cross-country skiing events. Better known as a sprinter, he missed fourth by a photo-finish and a bronze medal by .5 of a second.

My favorite moment of the Games was Devon’s interview immediately after his race, when, exhausted and emotional, he was asked why he was so upset. He said, that it was a tough pill to swallow to have skied for two hours only to come up 1.5 seconds from a gold medal… Not the bronze, not a silver. but gold. What a mental shift from an athlete who went into the race ranked 27th, and before the Games would have thought a top-10 finish to be a dream result.

For me, that’s why Olympics are so addictive to so many. The pressure-filled atmosphere allows us a glimpse into both the athletic evolution and the true character of the athletes we observe, and if we’re lucky, with whom we’ve associated.

You can see the finish of Devon’s race and his interview at:


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]Winter Olympics,Olympic cross-country skiing,Olympic nordic skiing,,Olympic hockey[/tags]

A Lesson From the Winter Olympics – Don’t Regret Taking a Risk


The Winter Olympics have been my constant companion since the first minutes of the opening ceremonies. In fact, they’re on my office TV as I write this blog.

I’m a proud Canadian and have watched a number of Canucks, some of them favorites in their event, finish off the podium.

Skeleton racer and race favourite, Melissa Hollingsworth dropped from 2nd to finish fifth on her last run of the competition. Chris del Bosco, in sight of the finish line with a solid bronze medal in his pocket, took a risky jump and hit the deck. He finished fourth. Bobsledder Lyndon Rush crashed his sled after an excellent start – he was in third place at the time. A number of our Canadian downhill and grand slalom skiers fell on the icy slopes at Whistler.

I couldn’t be prouder of them.

Why? Because these athletes could have played it safe and settled for a performance that might have netted a minor medal but would have, in their mind, been mediocre. Instead, they rolled the dice and went for it all.

There is no big payout without big risk.

It’s a concept I am constantly trying to teach my young athletes. I ask them never to regret taking a gamble and pushing for more. Sometimes taking a risk works and sometimes it doesn’t, but they’ll never know their limits unless they try.

Thank you, Mellisa and Chris and everyone who has taken a gamble on that biggest of stages. For some of you, it has paid off wonderfully. For others it hasn’t. But it’s better to test your limits and crash then to always wonder how much better you could have been. It’s what competing and pushing for excellence is all about. It’s what the Olympics are supposed to be all about.


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]Winter Olympics,Olympic skeleton,Olympic ski cross,Olympic bobsled,Olympic Downhill[/tags]

Football Games and the True Excitement in Sport

FBall_web1I’m a big NFL football fan. In particular (after having attended the University of Wisconsin for six years), a follower of the Green Bay Packers. To me, one of the consolations for Fall’s shorter days and colder temperatures is the fact that I get to watch NFL football on Sundays.

That said, the two most exciting games on television over the past two weeks didn’t take place in the NFL. They were games in “lesser” leagues north of the border.

One example was the Canadian university game between Queen’s and Laval universities for the Mitchell Bowl, the Eastern Conference Championships. In this barn-burner, passing sensation Danny Brannagan of Queen’s built up a huge lead in the first half only to have Laval charge back in the second half, gain possession with two minutes to go, then ultimately lose by only three points. The game was broadcast only in French…which I don’t speak. Yet I couldn’t stop watching. The 6000 fans in the stands might have been 60,000, they were making so much noise.

The second example was yesterday’s Grey Cup game. This championship of the Canadian Football League (CFL) followed a similar scenario, in which the underdog Saskatchewan Rough Riders built up a two-touchdown lead, only to squander it and have the game come down to a final drive and a 43-yard last-second field goal attempt by the favoured Montreal Alouettes. That field goal attempt was wide, but a too-many-men-on-the-field infraction gave Montreal a do-over from the 33 yard line. Kicker Damon Duval, who had been horrible all game, put it through the uprights to give Montreal the win. It was shocking, and exciting and I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen.

My point is…the excitement in sports isn’t determined by big salaries, big budgets and media hype. It comes down to hard competition and the ebbs and flows of a close game between two equal teams. And to the gut-wrenching pressure of last-second win-it-all plays. And that can happen at any level, including elementary and high school – as I’m sure all of you involved in scholastic sports already know!


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]football,physical education,competition,Grey Cup,Mitchell Cup,CFL,CIS,NFL[/tags]

Track Broadcasting Needs Better Announcers


I’m a track fan, so I really enjoyed watching the World Track and Field Championships over the past two weeks. Fortunately, I was able to watch three different versions of the meet: NBC, CBC and the live feed the live feed on the internet as provided by the CBC and Universal Sports websites.

And once again, it has become very clear why viewership for the sport is so poor in the U.S.  The television commentary provided by NBC was so horrible it detracted from the enjoyment of the event. Little technical information was provided – not enough to educate new fans or please aficionados. Lead play-by-play man, Tom Hammond sounded like a parody of an FM-radio announcer, and colour man, Ato Bolden, while certainly a knowledgeable sprinter and a huge step up from Carol Lewis, babbled incessantly at a volume so high it sounded like he was announcing professional wrestling. Dwight Stones and Lewis Johnson seemed to compete with each in making ridiculous comments, and trackside interviews were often inane and showed a lack of knowledge of the sport…for example, asking athletes, were still breathing hard after their events, what they thought about Jesse Owens.

The CBC team of Mark Lee and Michael Smith is much better and I enjoy listening to them. Smith has improved every year and with his decathlete’s background knows what he’s talking about.

However,  the Cadillac of track commentating was provided by the Brits who announced the live feed on the internet. They demonstrated a combination of expertise, authority, eloquence, passion and frequently amusing turns of phrase. They were able to convey excitement by raising their voices only when warranted. Here are some examples of commentary by the Brits:

“Away it goes, high and handsome. Splendid form for Thorkildsen!”
“He really did hit it through the point of the javelin.”

“When he’s good, he’s very, very good. When he’s bad, he’s very, very bad. Tactically inept at times, but sometimes he can be devastating.”

“Victory, yes, but for how long. Rodgrigues definitely tried to push her way through a space that just wasn’t there. The tragedy of this is, even if the Spaniard is disqualified, Burka will never get a medal.”

“Oh dear, it’s another no-jump. Three no-jumps in the final of a world championship. No wonder she’s distraught.”

“Beekele ran 2:24 over the last 1000m of the 5k – equivalent to running a 3:36 1500m over the last part of the race. That’s why Lagat didn’t have enough to hold him off at the end.”

Here’s a video example of exciting track commentary:
British Announcer – Usain Bolt’s 100m

Compare to the NBC coverage of the same race:

NBC Coverage

If Americans ever want to develop support for athletics in their country, they should hire a British coverage team.


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]track and field,IAAF Championships,World Track and Field Championships,track announcing,track announcers[/tags]

Women’s Teams, Bus Travel and Chick Flicks


Laurentian University, where I coach the women’s track and cross-country teams, is four hours north of Toronto, and most of our competition venues are at least that far away. (I also coach a track club, but that’s for other blog posts).

So we  do a lot of driving. In the past, we travelled in vans, but this year our fortunes changed dramatically. We now use a 30 passenger coach,  It’s heaven! The difference in stress levels after a bus-trip versus a van trip is astronomical. In fact, I’m typing this blog while sipping tea in the front seat of the bus. We’re flying down the highway and I can see the fall colors flashing past, and rivers and lakes and other spectacular views. The bus has a bathroom, luggage compartment,  reclining seats and a professional driver.

It has one other feature that sounds wonderful, but is a double-edged sword – a DVD player with five screens and speaker system. Movies! What a great way to wile away the hours!

Or so I thought. On our first trip in the bus, I made a fatal mistake. Continue reading Women’s Teams, Bus Travel and Chick Flicks