Women’s Teams, Bus Travel and Chick Flicks

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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

Politicians! We Need a National Fitness Strategy and a New National Identity!

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It’s election time in both Canada and the United States.   Much has been discussed about the  election platforms of every political party on both sides of the border: Military spending and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan; unemployment, the deficit, and ways to stimulate the economy;  environmental initiatives; tax reduction; and health-care spending…

In the discussions on health care spending, I seldom hear anything mentioned about disease prevention and the incredible savings in our health-care spending that can result.  But in order to realize these savings, we need a national strategy for fitness.

The strategy must be comprehensive with the goal of establishing a national identity that includes fitness, health and physical competence. This identity must begin with our youngest of school children and sustain them throughout their adult years. National funds must be set aside to enable our states and provinces and local school boards to provide quality daily physical education led by competent instructors who will instill a love of physical activity and fitness and provide the knowledge and physical tools to enable every student to enjoy a lifelong, healthy lifestyle. Continue reading Politicians! We Need a National Fitness Strategy and a New National Identity!

One Field, Three Sports

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Last week, I witnessed a great example of the optimal use of facilities and cooperation between sports teams.

Lockerby Composite is a high school of about 1000 students within the city of Sudbury, Ontario. While the school has a great sports tradition, its outdoor facilities are limited to a single football field, bordered by houses, a rock outcrop, a parking lot and the back walls of the school itself.  It also has a small asphalt tennis court, bordered by a strip of grass separating the court from a busy street.

What I witnessed last week were two varsity practices and an inter-school competition all conducted simultaneously on these limited facilities.

The senior boys varsity football team was practicing on one half of the football field, while the girls flag football squad was running drills on the other half. At the same time, an inter-school cross-country race was being run, starting on the strip of grass beside the tennis court and running loops around several city blocks before finishing in the end zone of the football field. Three coaches, three varsity teams, all successfully sharing the same facility. You obviously don’t need Cadillac facilities to get it done. Way to go, Lockerby!

By the way,  this blog will continue as a bi-weekly from now on. We began as a weekly but went bi-weekly over the summer months. Feedback was so good that we’ll continue publishing every second week. Sometimes PE teachers have so much information thrown at them that keeping up becomes a chore.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,school,sports,cooperation,football,cross country running[/tags]

More Notes From An Olympic Observer

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With the Olympics over, there is now a huge gap in my life that only watching 18 hours of daily television sports can fill.

During the games, I was occasionally able to wrench my bloodshot eyes from the television screen long enough to jot down some observations. Here they are:

Race Walking
I’m not a race walking fan. It’s a contrived form of locomotion, in which highly trained athletes are confined by unnatural rules that they all break. For example, “lifting” is illegal – it’s when both feet are off the ground at the same time. Yet, most race walkers do it at some point in the race. Slow motion video of the competitors leaving the Olympic stadium showed a number of them cheating in this manner.

Michael Phelps in School
Michael Phelps, because of his ADHD in school, was once told by a teacher that he’d never be able to focus on anything. Apparently, with Phelps winning eight gold medals in swimming, that teacher was wrong.

Synchronized Swimming
I realize synchronized swimming athletes are highly trained and the sport is difficult, but, it reminds me of cheerleading…in the water…with nothing but upside down legs showing…and with the cheerleaders wearing weird makeup, cheezy smiles and nose clips. I’m afraid I can’t get myself to like it.

The Most Cruel Event
The hurdles must be the most cruel of events. You are never more than 10m from disaster, as Lolo Jones, who had been decisively leading the 100m hurdle final, found out when she clipped the ninth hurdle and dropped from first to seventh in the blink of an eye. Ironically, she probably hit that hurdle because she was running too fast – which is the point in sprint events. That extra speed can change your stride pattern, taking you too close to the upcoming hurdles.

Volleyball Artillery
The Brazilians were serving the volleyball at 118 km/hour. Not spiking, serving! Their serves looked like cannonballs coming across the net.

BMX Biking
BMX biking. Quite a spectacle and very exciting, with lots of crashes and spectacular jumps. But those BMX bikes remind me of the tiny bikes the clowns ride in the circus.

Medal Incentives
One thing I didn’t realize was that the American Olympic medalists receive a financial bonus for winning medals: $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. Canadians receive $20,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. The money is a nice incentive, but it’s tough to live on that for four years.

Grace in Defeat
You can tell more about an athlete’s true character after a crushing defeat than after a win. I was impressed with sprinter Tyson Gay – America’s top hope in the sprints. Gay failed to qualify for the 100m finals, then was involved in the botched exchange of the 4 x 100m relay. Although he had pulled a hamstring in the U.S. Olympic trials, he refused to use it as an excuse (although it WAS a factor), and took full responsibility for the botched exchange, although it wasn’t all his fault. Tyson Gay has a new fan and it’s me. I’m also a new fan of U.S. hurdler Lolo Jones, whose following post race interview was an inspiration:
Lolo Jones Interview

I realize it was a controversial decision, but kudos to the International Olympic Committee for awarding the Olympics to China. Yes, China is still a repressive state, and yes they should leave Tibet alone. But China possesses an ancient culture, expanding economy and form of government that are gradually opening themselves to the world. And these Olympics were a wonderful, if small, step in that direction. Getting to know athletes from other cultures on a personal level is one of the true benefits of the Olympics and it’s why boycotts are a bad idea. Don’t YOU feel like you know China a little better after the Games?

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]Olympics,Michael Phelps,Lolo Jones,hurdles[/tags]

Olympic Observations – Bolt & Lezak

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With the summer Olympics at the half-way mark, here are some observations:

Track – Usain Bolt
After watching Usain Bolt shattering the world record with a 9.69 in the 100m, I realize I have been coaching the event all wrong. I always thought sprinters had to use their arms in the last 20 metres of the race. Apparently holding them out like wings while pounding the chest is faster. I can hardly wait to implement this new technique!

Swimming
Michael Phelps winning eight gold medals in swimming was a super story.

But the best race performance, for me, was watching his teammate, 32 year-old Jason Lezak on the final leg of the of the 4 x 100m freestyle relay.

Lezak was anchoring against the world record holder in the 100m freestyle, Alain Bernard, of France. Bernard had done some trash-talking before the race, stating that the French team would smash the Americans. As the race progressed and the final exchange took place, it  appeared that Bernard’s prediction would come true, as he entered the water almost body-length ahead of Lezak.

However, as the Frenchman raced down the pool, he edged too close to his lane line. Lezak, the canny veteran, realizing the mistake, edged over to their shared line and drafted behind Bernard, riding his bow-wave, like a dolphin with a ship.  It was a rookie error on Bernard’s part, and Lezak made him pay.

With 10 metres to go, Lezak, who had expended a fraction of the energy of the Frenchman, made his charge, head bobbing, legs thrashing and arms flailing furiously.  The move was so dramatic, that he almost appeared to lift out of the water. Lezak out-touched Bernard by 8/100th of a second after having swum the fastest relay leg in history.

It was something to see. Michael Phelps deserves the attention he’s receiving, but he owes his record of 8 gold medals to Jason Lezak.

There will be more Olympic observations in the next blog.

P.S. Bernard later redeemed himself by winning the 100m freestyle in a new world record.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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To check out the PE Update.com website, Click Here!

[tags]Olympics,Usain Bolt,Jason Lizak,swimming,track[/tags]

Airlines – The Tilting Seat Dilemma

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I don’t like air travel.

It’s because I have a slight case of claustrophobia, that shows itself only occasionally…like when I get caught in an avalanche, become pinned under a toppled elephant, or travel in an airplane. Sometimes the latter is worst of the three situations.

Having just completed a team trip involving air travel – and knowing there are other claustrophobic fliers out there – here’s a suggestion to the airlines that will help those with my affliction.

WELD THOSE SEATS SO THEY CAN’T BE TILTED BACK!!!

Why, when there is only about two feet of space between your face and the back of the seat ahead of you, would an airline allow that seat to drop even closer to your face?

It makes even less sense when you consider that many airplanes have television screens on the back of that seat. Like many middle aged men, I have “progressive lenses,” that force you to tilt your head back to see things are close. With the forward seat back and the screen only 18 inches from my face (yes, I have measured), you have to screw yourself into a wrestler’s bridge to get it into focus.

Not to mention that anyone over six feet tall tends to have their knees on the back of the forward seat, because we just don’t fit very well. Tilt that seat back and the body assumes a wrestlers arch with the knees around the face – it’s a yoga pose called, I believe, the Crippled Snake, but only a grand master could hold that pose for more than 40 seconds.

A crumpled claustrophobic is an air rage risk, and adding to the potential for disaster is the fact that the person who plummets the seat onto your knee often has loads of space. That person is often a child. Who not only drops the seat back, but plays with it like a rocking chair, oblivious to the howls of mortal pain coming from behind them, assuming, I guess, that it’s the sound of the jet engines kicking in.

I doubt the airlines will listen to my plea, so in the meantime, there is a solution to this problem if you are traveling with your team. Make sure one of your athletes is sitting in front of you. Threaten that athlete with grievous bodily harm if they tilt their seat back. A good one I have just learned is, “Tilt that seat back and I will chop you into little pieces and sprinkle you on your mother’s potatoes.”

It seems to do the trick. Just don’t utter that threat when the flight attendant is near. Handcuffs and claustrophobics are not a good match.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To subscribe to the free PE Tips of the Week Newsletter, Click Here!
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[tags]airline,airplane,travel,team,tilting seats[/tags]