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,

To subscribe to the free PE Tips of the Week Newsletter, Click Here!
To check out the PE website, Click Here!

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

“I Hate to Sweat”…A Physical Education Poem


It’s mid-summer and students are living their dream, especially the ones who don’t like to sweat during physical education classes. If you don’t believe me, read the following creation from the poet laureate of PE, Dr. Jim Riley (this poem can also be found on the PE website).

I really don’t like PE at all,
It’s the worst subject I’ve had yet;
For everything we do in class,
Causes me to profusely sweat:

Sweat always drizzles down my nose,
Off my back and tummy too;
If you get very close to me,
I’ll shake some sweat all over you:

Oh sweat’s so sticky and drippy,
And it forms such an ugly goo;
It’s so slimy and it’s salty,
And it reeks of bad odor too:

I barely can wait for summer,
How happy I surely will be;
Eating chips and sucking sodas,
As I sit watching my TV.

By Dr. Jim Riley


Dick Moss, Editor,

To subscribe to the free PE Tips of the Week Newsletter, Click Here!
To check out the PE website, Click Here!

[tags]physical education poetry,pe poetry,pe poems,physical education poems[/tags]

Frustrating Day in Class?
Give Welsh Shin Kicking a Try


Summer vacation is just beginning for teachers here in North America. As usual, I’ll post only a couple of blogs over the summer – because most of you won’t read them anyway! So, we’ll publish once at the end of July and then again at the end of August.

And with summer vacation comes the opportunity to try new activities for inclusion in next year’s physical education curriculum.

Here’s a beauty. For those days when your students are really getting on your nerves (the entire month of June, for example), how about Welsh shin kicking. You simply divide your students into pairs, have them lock arms as they face each other, then kick each other’s shins until someone gives up or falls down. It’s a truly cathartic activity for frustrated PE teachers .

Shin kicking has a long and storied past, beginning in the Welsh mines in the 1600’s. And it has been quite the spectacle through the ages. One account from 1843 describes a competition that lasted 45 minutes in which two men competed “in a state of nudity with the exception of each having on a pair of strong boots.”

While the sport died down in the late 1900’s, it was apparently revived in 1951., although modern-day competitors are now allowed to stuff straw down their pant-legs.

(While shin-kicking is a real “sport,” I am joking about using it in your PE classes….honest! I think).

Have a great summer!

P.S. You can learn more about Welsh Shin Kicking at:
Welsh Shin Kicking


Dick Moss, Editor,

To subscribe to the free PE Tips of the Week Newsletter, Click Here!
To check out the PE website, Click Here!

[tags]physical education,Welsh Shin Kicking[/tags]

Does Your Lobster Need Tuning?


I spend many hours with my nose deep in scientific journals, ferreting out those tidbits of research that a physical educator might use.

This extensive reading has led me to an inescapable conclusion: there are a lot of people doing some very strange things in the name of scientific research.

Peruse, if you will, some titles I once discovered from a foray to the library. These experiments raise many questions about experimental method. Questions like: how do scientists conduct these experiments? And more pertinent, why do they conduct them? Take this study:

“Cardiac and skeletal muscle enzyme levels in hypertensive and aging rats.”

Where, exactly, does a person find a rat with hypertension? Do you advertise in the personal columns of rodent newspapers? Or do rat-snatchers lurk around the waiting rooms of animal hospitals or in steak-house dumpsters? Then there’s:

“Tuning of chemoreceptor cells of the second antenna of the American lobster (Homarus americanus) with a comparison of four of its other chemoreceptor organs.”

It’s just speculation, but was this study performed for its commercial possibilities? Automobile tuning is already big business in this country. Is lobster tuning the career of the future? I’m sure thousands of seafood restaurants would kill for better tuned lobsters. And, finally:

“Tetrachromatic color vision in goldfish: evidence from color mixture experiments.”

The question here is, what prompted this scientist to investigate color vision in goldfish? Was it because his own fishy pets were wearing brown socks with blue suits? Were they running stop lights because they couldn’t distinguish red from green? Or did they reveal their trauma, during psychotherapy, that because of their visual deficiency, they did not even realize they were gold!?

And it’s not just experiment titles that tell us the world of scientific research is strange. Take a quick gander at the products advertised in a respected physiology journal:

“Inexpensive four-lane electronically speed-controlled treadmill for rats and mice.”

What, no Stairmaster? Or how about:

“Grip Strength Meter for Rats & Mice”

Yup, put the little guys on a weight-training program and they’ll want to know how their handshake is improving.

And yet, it is pure research like this — as strange as these studies may seem — that can eventually produce information that applies to the lives of real people…including those of physical educators.

So, dear scientists, keep tuning your lobster antennae, keep checking the color vision of those neurotic goldfish. And when your next phys-ed breakthrough comes along, please give those muscle-bound rodents of yours a firm handshake on our behalf.


Dick Moss, Editor,

To subscribe to the free PE Tips of the Week Newsletter, Click Here!
To check out the PE website, Click Here!

[tags]physical education,scientific research,scientific studies[/tags]

European Soccer Leagues Explained


If you are a European soccer fan, please forgive my ignorance. Last week, I watched the Champions Cup championships on television, and it inspired me to find out what it all means.

I understand the World Cup. The best players compete for their country with national teams advancing through qualifying tournaments in order to play in the big show. But what about all the other leagues and championships that take place between the World Cup. Why are there players from Brazil playing in Manchester, England? What are all these terms I keep hearing about: Premierships, First league, FA Cup?

So here’s a quick summary of the results of my research. Understanding how these leagues work has already made me into more of a soccer fan – I now understand what’s going on and what’s at stake. I’ll use the term “soccer” instead of “football” to avoid confusion with North American football.

National Professional Leagues

First of all, every major soccer country has it’s own professional league, all playing with the same FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association)rules. These national club leagues often have two or more divisions, with the top division getting the most attention, and hence making the most money. The top division in England, for example, is called the Premier League and usually includes teams such and Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. In Spain, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Valencia play in their Primera Liga, and in Italy, AC Milan and Inter Milan play in their top Serie A league.

The championship in these leagues is based on the best record over the course of the season, and the teams play each other twice or four times. The winner is the National Club Champion.

While the extra money gives the teams in the top league the best chance of remaining in the top league, that position is performance-based. Teams from the bottom of the First League (often the bottom three) are “relegated” or “dropped” to the second division in the next season, and the top three teams from the second division are promoted to the top division. The same exchange occurs between the second and third division, if there is one.

Beneath these teams are the amateur leagues comprised of regional or local teams, with players playing only for a small stipend. Amateur teams can be promoted into the professional ranks and the worst pro teams and be dropped to amateurs. Because of this, every game holds great significance, both financially and in terms of prestige.

The Premier League Homepage Link

The National Cup Championships (i.e. FA Cup)

Since the placement in leagues is based on play from the previous year, it’s possible that a team from the second, third or even amateur division might actually be the best in the country. So, there are opportunities for all of the professional and amateur clubs to play each other. While not every team is invited (usually it’s the less successful Division 1 teams and the top from each lower division and amateur leagues).

These National Cup competitions are single elimination and take place throughout the season, usually in the amateur club’s venues – which can create quite a stir. No advancement through divisions occurs from the results of this league, and the top teams often play their second string. And the prestige of these competitions varies from country to country. In England, the chance of seeing a huge upset makes the matches very popular and its FA Cup Final is a major event. In Germany, however, cup competitions get little attention.

The FA Cup Homepage Link

International Play

While these national league and cup competitions are taking place, the professional league champion from each country (based on last year’s results), and a few second-place finishers, are simultaneously competing in the UEFA Champions League. The UEFA stands for the “Union of European Football Associations.”

These teams play mid-week (most national club games are on weekends), through four phases of play which eventually qualifies only two teams for the championship game. This year, it was Barcelona versus Manchester United, with the underdog Barcelona coming out on top. This game receives huge international attention.

UEFA Champions League Link


Like the NHL or NBA, teams are allowed to field the best team they can afford, and they sign players from around the world to multi-million dollar contracts if they think they can help them to win. That’s why a player like Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo played for England’s Manchester United this year, and Argentina’s Lionel Messi played for Barcelona. The best of the top division clubs have multi-million dollar budgets that rival North American professionals sports. A 2006 BBC survey showed that the average wage per year for players in England’s Premier league was 676,000 pounds sterling, or about $1.1 million dollars per year.

BBC Soccer Wage Survey Link

More Information

For more information, see an excellent description at the following website: “How to Follow Soccer in Europe”


Dick Moss, Editor,

To subscribe to the free PE Tips of the Week Newsletter, Click Here!
To check out the PE website, Click Here!

[tags]soccer,football,European soccer leagues explanation,European football leagues[/tags]

True Character Shows Itself on the Softball Diamond


Sara Tucholsky, a 5’2″ part-time starter on the University of Western Oregon’s softball  team, had never hit a home run in her entire career – not until she pounded one over the fence in a conference championship game against Central Washington University this year.

However, Sara tore an ACL in her knee as she rounded first base. She collapsed onto the field, unable to complete the circuit she needed to make her homer official. Her teammates were unable to help, because the umpire explained that any assistance they offered would automatically disqualify the hit. It was a frustrating situation because Sara had, after all, hit an obvious home run.

And that’s when a remarkable example of sportsmanship occurred. Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace, Sara’s opponents on the Central Washington squad picked her up and carried her around the bases, touching her foot on each base and making her home run official. Holtman is Central Washington record holder in almost every category. And this was not a throw-away game – it was the conference championship!

Sports often provides a stage that shows the true character of people.  The Central Washington players knew that Sara deserved the home run and the circuit around the bases was a mere formality. So they did what was right, instead of taking advantage of the rulebook.

Bravo to the Mallory and Liz and the Central Washington players, their coach and all those who obviously instilled the correct values in these young women. In fact, this demonstration of sportsmanship will affect more people in a positive way than a simple victory ever could.
To sum it up, in Sarah’s words “My whole team was crying. It touched a lot of people.”

The game was covered in an ESPN video piece. You can see it at:

P.S. Central Washington lost the game 4-2. Western Oregon went on to attend the NCAA Division II Championships for the first time in their history.


Dick Moss, Editor,

To subscribe to the free PE Tips of the Week Newsletter, Click Here!
To check out the PE website, Click Here!

[tags]sportsmanship,softball,character,physical education[/tags]