Some Team Nicknames Aren’t Intimidating

Ferocious, tenacious, aggressive, fierce, proud. These are the qualities we usually associate with our sports teams.

As coaches, we want the very mention of our team’s name to strike fear into the hearts of opponents. We want them sitting in their locker rooms the day before they play us, stomachs knotted in fear, thinking, “My gosh, tomorrow we play the Screaming Scarlet Eviscerators. Maybe my mom can write me a note so I don’t have to go.”

That’s why we give our teams nicknames that embody these traits: Lions, Hawks, Vikings, Wolves, Red-Eyed Panthers.

Keeping this in mind, it’s surprising how many teams are named for less than frightening things. A quick scan through a university directory reveals some interesting monikers.

For example, some team nicknames seem downright nice. I can’t imagine a friendlier contest than one between the Gentlemen of Centenary College and the Monks of Saint Joseph’s College. Or the Poets of Whittier College and the Missionaries of Whitman College. Heck, they probably don’t even hire referees for their games.

In contrast, one of the yuckiest matchups would have to be the Banana Slugs of U. of Cal at Santa Cruz versus the Horned Frogs of Texas Christian. How’d you like to mop the gym floor after that one?

And another messy contest in which the feathers are sure to fly: the Fightin’ Blue Hens of Delaware against the Power Gulls of Endicott College.

Some nicknames conjure up powerful images: The Austin College Kangaroos slam-dunking the basketball. The Fighting Parsons of NYACK College telling their opponents, “Don’t elbow me again, or I’ll give you a good blessing.” The Florida Southern Moccasins getting stepped all over by their opponents. The Rhode Island College Anchormen doing their own play-by-play TV coverage. The Retrievers of U. of Maryland-Baltimore County going for the long ball. And the Vandals of Idaho U. spraying graffiti on locker room walls wherever they play.

And then there are the totally uncoachable Mules of Central Missouri, in contrast to the Diplomats of Franklin and Marshall College, who’ll do anything you ask. And, of course, the Chokers of Grays Harbor College, who, for some reason, always seem to miss that game-winning shot.

Some schools, realizing their men’s team nickname may not be popular with their female athletes, have a separate women’s nickname. The Weevils of U. of Arkansas-Monticello mercifully become the women’s Cotton Blossoms. The Student Princes of Heidelburg College become the Student Princesses. However, some teams are not so sensitive to the image of their women’s teams. Surely the Jumbos can’t be a popular nickname among women athletes at Tufts. Ditto for the Pittsburgh State Gorillas or the Trolls of Trinity Christian College.

Finally, there are some team nicknames that just leave you wondering what they are—a great strategy for keeping the opposition confused and unprepared. How do you match up against a Gee Gee from the U. of Ottawa, or an Ook from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology? And what exactly is an Washurn U. Icabod, or a St. Louis U. Billiken?

If nothing else, the research I’ve done for this article has given me some great words to use in my next Scrabble game. For example, do you know what a Saluki is? Or a Catamount? Let’s break out that Scrabble board!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

P.S. FYI:
Saluki: A hunting dog native to Asia and North Africa. Team nickname for Southern Illinois U.
Catamount: A wild cat such as a cougar or lynx. Team nickname for Vermont U.

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[tags]physical education,team nicknames[/tags]

Tennis Video is Inspirational for Female Athletes in Every Sport

Tennis-Video

Welcome back to school! If you’re looking for some inspiration, I’ve just found an incredible tennis video, produced by the New York Times Magazine. With the U.S. Open tennis championships just over, it’s very timely.

Called “The Beauty of the Power Game, ” the video shows some of the world’s top female tennis players hitting the ball, close up, with special effects, in slow motion and with music in the background.  It’s a wonderful illustration of the power, strength and beauty of female athletes.

Segments include: the incredible flexibility and recovery abilities of Kim Clijsters; the tremendous power generated by the backhand of Serena Williams; the ballet-like movement of a spin-around groundstroke produced by Elena Dementieva; and the rippling quadriceps of Samantha Stosur as she absorbs the shock of ground contact during a forehand. Victoria Azarenka’s segement showing the ball exploding off her racquet is especially notable.

If you’ve ever had doubts about the strength and power of female athletes, be sure to watch this video. These women are strong, and athletic, and beautiful. It’s inspirational for female athletes and coaches in any sport.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/08/29/magazine/womens-tennis.html?ref=sports

And be sure to see the companion slide show: “Women Who Hit Hard.”

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/08/29/magazine/tennis-hard-hitters.html

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]tennis video,tennis slow-motion,Kim Clijsters,Serena Williams,Elena Dementieva,Samantha Stosur,Victoria Azarenka [/tags]

You Don’t Need The Best Facilities to be the Best Athletes

The World Cup is over and I’m still blown away by what players at that level can do with a soccer ball. But what happens when you combine soccer with Capoeira, the acrobatic martial art from Brazil? Take a look (warning…don’t try this at home).

These young athletes aren’t practicing on groomed grass fields. They’re performing in an inner-city setting on dirt lots, paved streets, rooftops and courtyards. This video may help your students to realize that it doesn’t take the best facilities in the world to become the best athletes in the world. It takes work, dedication, constant practice and the obvious passion for one’s sport demonstrated by these athletes. Incidentally, Brazil is one of the best soccer countries on the globe.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]soccer, Capoeira,soccer skills,acrobatic soccer moves[/tags]

A New Sport? The 100m Hurdles in Swim Fins

HurdleFins_web

100 Hurdles in Swim Fins

There are a number of hybrid sports:  the biathlon combines nordic skiing and shooting; the heptathlon combines seven track and field events; the triathlon combines swimming, cycling and running. So why not another hybrid –  swim-fin-hurdling?

Sound crazy? Yup – but the World record is fast!  In fact, heptathlete Veronica Torr from New Zealand broke the old World mark of 22.35 seconds by flipper-hurdling over the 100m distance in 19.28 seconds. While the world’s non-flippered best run the event in just over 12 seconds and credible high school athletes run in 14, she’s not far off. Especially for a flipper-foot.

You can see the World record, as it was set, in the following video. You’ll notice that, unlike the Olympic hurdles races, that Ms. Torr is grinning ear-to-ear throughout the entire race.

And for those technical hurdle experts out there, you can see the entire race in slow-motion.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]swim fin hurdling,hurdling with swim fins, swim fin hurdles record[/tags]

Can Physical Education Unite a War-Torn Country?

Athletes-Shaking-Hands_webWhen it comes to physical education, it seems that Uganda is more advanced in its thinking than many North American school boards. Rather than firing PE teachers and cutting PE from school curricula, Uganda’s ministry for education has announced that they’ll be recruiting 3600 new physical education teachers over the next two years.

In justifying this expenditure, the minister stated the well-known (but often ignored or misunderstood) rationale of improved health among students.

However, he also  expressed a benefit that is overlooked in North America but is of great urgency in a country with a long history of civil war…unity!

In education minister Kamanda Bataringaya’s speech, he appealed for local leaders to support sport in their districts as a way to unite their communities. In his words: “Very many countries fight each other but when it comes to sports, they are one.”

Fitness, health, national unity.

In Bataringaya’s words,  “So, education should go hand in hand with sports.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Reference: Paul Watala and Joseph Wanzusi, “Government Eyes 3600 to Train Physical Education,” AllAfrica.com,  April 8, 2010.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,PE,physical education advantages,physical education and unity,sport and unity,sport advantages[/tags]

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.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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