Be on the Lookout for Students Who Play “The Choking Game”

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I have just read about a disturbing activity that may affect students in your school. It’s called the “choking game.” This game has killed at least 82 students in the USA and sent at least 72 Canadian kids to the hospital. In fact, a newly released survey has found that 79,000 students – just in the province of Ontario alone – play this dangerous game.

The survey, called the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health survey, was conducted in 2007 by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Involving Ontario students in grades seven to twelve, it found that seven per cent had played the choking game. There was no difference in participation level between girls and boys or among grade levels.

What is the choking game? Kids either choke themselves – or get someone to choke them – until they begin to pass out. This state of oxygen deprivation produces a temporary feeling of euphoria. The game has other names: the scarf game, space monkey, the pass-out game, blackout and five minutes to heaven.

However, it is easy to go too far with this game and a slight miscalculation can be deadly.

What signs may alert teachers to students who are playing the choking game? Bloodshot eyes, frequent headaches, marks on the neck, and the possession of strange items such as ropes, collars and dog leashes.

As Physical education teachers, you are in a position to prevent a tragedy. You can discuss this game and its dangers during health classes. And the T-shirts that students wear in class will expose marks on a student’s neck that is an indicator of game-play.

References:
1. The “Choking Game”, Psychological Distress and Bullying: Ontario teens continue to exhibit troubling behaviour. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, May 1, 2008.

2. “Almost 80,000 Students Play “choking game.” The Canadian Press, May 3, 2008.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]choking game,physical education,coaching,health,school,students[/tags]

“Year of the Bull” Exhibits the Worst in Coaching Behavior

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I’m always behind the times when it comes to watching movies. This weekend I caught a 2003 documentary called “Year of the Bull.” It followed a blue-chip recruit in his final season as high school football player.

Some of the footage was shocking, and this documentary could become a level-one coaching primer on
“how not to coach high school athletes.”

The coaches demonstrated virtually every negative coaching behavior you can imagine. Many of the behaviors would get them fired in a split second in many school districts—and would certainly never be tolerated by a physical educator.

These behaviors included physical abuse such as slapping players and an outright assault that left a coach and player wrestling on the ground…followed by a transparent manipulation of that player’s emotions by the coach, telling the fatherless youth that he loved him like a son and that the team needed him. This “reconciliation” was so self-serving and insincere that it was sickening. And such an assault by a father on his son would result in action by the Children’s Aid Society.

The coaches seemed to exhibit symptoms of permanent ‘roid rage, belittling players at the top of their lungs, getting in their face and screaming profanities and threats… adult bullies, using every trick in the book to shame their child-troops into compliance with their wishes.

The interesting thing is that these coaches permitted their behaviors to be recorded. So they must have believed that their coaching techniques to be not only acceptable but commendable. Did they view this documentary as a way to advertise their talents to a higher level of coaching? If so, they were terribly mistaken. Yes, football is a tough sport, but what university would risk the potential lawsuits and loss of reputation that the hiring such coaches might produce. Basketball legend, Bobby Knight was fired for behavior that was mild compared to this.

Near the end of the movie, in the state championship game, I found myself cheering against this team. Not because I disliked then the athletes, but because I deplored the methods their coaches had used to get them to get that championship.

This team was stacked with division one football talent. Five of the players would sign letters of intent at division one football programs. Yes the program was successful, in a football sense. But you don’t have to abuse children to get results on the field. And what could this team and these athletes have accomplished with coaches who understood that they were dealing with adolescents who needed guidance in life as well as football.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]football,Year of the Bull,coaching,[/tags]

Cuts to Health and PE Programs Cause Increase in Teen Pregnancy

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It’s just crazy. Health and physical education classes are often the first subjects to be cut when school boards face budget and curriculum pressures.

Of course, it’s important for students to know the 3R’s, but health and PE programs will save their lives. Literally! Students get only one body in their lifetime and unless they receive the information and tools to keep it healthy, they risk premature heart disease, diabetes,obesity and a poor quality of life.

They also risk a danger that those who cut HPE programs might not have anticipated – an increase in teen pregnancy. Comprehensive health and PE programs includes sex education, which covers the potential dangers of sexual activity. And students who have had such programs are less likely to become pregnant.

Here’s just one example. Massachusetts experienced a decrease in teen birth rate from the years 1996 to to 2005. This was a period of increased health education funding for schools,

However, much of that funding was cut in 2002. By 2005, the effects were being felt. In 2005, 15 of 25 communities involved in a state-wide survey experienced an increase in teen birth rate. For some it was dramatic. For example the city of New Bedford went from a teen birth rate of 58.9 per thousand to 70 per thousand in 2005!

It’s another risk to which administrators subject our children when they cut health and PE programs. It’s time for education administrators to wake up and realize that these subjects are not frills – they are necessities!

Reference: Charis Anderson, Consequences for Life – Teen Pregnancies rise after priority changes force cutbacks in health education for children. New Bedford Standard-Times, April 20, 2008

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]teen pregnancy,physical education,health class[/tags]

Playtime in the Snow with Wolf Children: An Animated Film

 

The holiday season is almost here and since this is my last blog of the year I thought I’d show you this video by acclaimed director, Mamoru Hosoda. It’s an excerpt from his animated film, “Wolf Children,” that won the Audience Award in the New York International Children’s Film Festival and also the Japan Academy Prize for best Animation Film.

For some backstory, the children, who have the ability to transform into wolves, experience their first winter snowfall. They then run and play in the snow, as all children will do if given the chance.

The real fun starts at the 52 second mark of the video. I’m not a huge anime fan, but the soundtrack and scenes in the forest and on the mountain are striking and – whether you’re a wolf pup, a child or an adult PE teacher – truly portray the joy of physical activity in the snow.

Happy holidays!

 

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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Physical Education Update

[tags]physical education,winter activities,Wolf Children,winter fun,joy of winter>[/tags]

Kyrie Irving’s “Uncle Drew” Stands Up for Old Basketball Players

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I play old-men’s pickup basketball with a crew that meets every Tuesday night during the winter. Our oldest members are in their 60’s and have been partaking of this weekly ritual for decades. But there are also some younger guys in their 20’s who play with us.

Of course, there is some friendly trash-talking about old men and their ability to play the game (usually coming from the old men themselves). So, when I came across this video, I immediately sent it to my crew (immediately after I stopped laughing, that is).

It shows rookie NBA sensation Kyrie Irving in an amazing makeup job that makes him look like he’s in his 60’s or 70’s. When a player in a game of playground basketball gets “hurt,” Kyrie is convinced to take his place. The opponents are a group of cocky 20-something hotshots who don’t like the idea of playing against an old man.

The results are hilarious and some of “Uncle Drew’s” moves are amazing. I’ll be trying them all next year (not!).

I don’t know how many of the people in the video were aware that it was a setup (I’m pretty sure I saw NBA great, Clyde Drexler, standing on the sidelines), but it’s funny regardless. And for you PE teachers and basketball coaches who have to listen to trash talk from your students about your declining hoops skills – well, send them this video!

Check out the video here:

P.S. This is the final blog before the summer holidays. There won’t be a blog over the summer (who’s going to read it anyway), but we’ll be back in September. Have a great summer vacation! And as you can see, we’re experimenting with a new, cleaner look for the blog. When you come back next Fall, we should have it finalized. I hope you like it.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]basketball,Kyrie Irving,masters basketball,Uncle Drew>[/tags]

The Masters Golf Tournament Uses Sissy Grass

This was the weekend of the Masters golf tournament.

What I find most fascinating about the Masters are the close-ups of balls resting on the carpet-like fairways. The grass it’s so uniform and short it looks like artificial turf.

I am your stereotypical duffer and the courses I play on are not championship caliber. Dead patches and divots are the norm. Winter rules are in effect, meaning you can move your ball out of a lie that has been ruined because of bad grass.

Winter rules are common for northern Ontario courses because of the short playing season and the need for course owners to generate revenue before the grass is really ready. Besides, duffers like me like being able to move our ball to a better lie.

I occasionally play a championship level course. There is one in my hometown, but I seldom play there because the green fees are considerably more than the $12 for nine holes that I’m used to paying. And, while the fairways are beautifully groomed, I can’t hit off them. They’re too nice. To me, it’s like hitting off a putting green and my sub-conscious mind must be trained not to take divots off a green. So I whiff a lot.

Yup – you can take the Masters and that fancy golf course. It’s not real golfing for me. I could empathize much better if the Augusta National course was a cow pasture.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]golf,Masters,course,grass,sissy,winter rules,physical education[/tags]