A Canadian Cross-Country Running Experience

Cross-Country Running Photo

Well it was an interesting weekend. I made the six-hour drive to Guelph, Ontario, for the Canadian Cross-Country Running Championships. For those of you who know what Canada is like in December, you might be asking, “But wasn’t it cold? Wasn’t there snow?” The answer is yes, it was cold, and yes, there was snow.

In fact, we drove down in a blizzard. A French exchange student who runs with our club (I coach at Laurentian University and with Sudbury’s Track North Athletic Club), received a true Canadian experience during the drive. He was a little wide-eyed during the near white-out conditions, his comment being, “In France, if it’s like this, we don’t leave the house.” To his credit, he later raced in his shorts.

On race-day, the temperatures was about -8 centigrade (18 degrees fahrenheit), and the course itself was hard-packed snow. It looked like a nordic ski course.

But it was a great event, with music blaring and a group of local drummers heating up the atmosphere. The snow had stopped by race day, and it was a beautiful, sunny day. The footing was OK, since the race organizers had packed it down with a tractor and roller.

Besides, cross-country runners are hardy folk. For most, the worse the conditions, the more fun they have.

This blog has readers from many countries, including places that never see snow, such as Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Malasia, and Australia. For those of you who want a Canadian athletics experience, check out the following FloCast footage of the race.

FloTrack, by the way, is a tremendous website for those of you who are athletics fans. It provides video coverage of many athletics events…in particular, the events that the mainstream media ignores in lieu of Rock, Paper, Scissors tournaments. 🙂

Here’s the link. If you want to see other races from the meet, the links are on the top left. For a school perspective, the Junior races are for athletes under 20. While they include some runners in their first or 2nd year of university, but most are high schoolers. For example, Kendra Schaaf, who won the Junior Girls race, is still in high school.

http://www.flocasts.org/flotrack/coverage.php?c=130&id=6150

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]cross-country running,athletics,sports,physical education, coaching [/tags]

Rock, Paper, Scissors Sports Channel Coverage

Rock, Paper Scissors

In an age in which legitimate sports like track and field , amateur wrestling , lacrosse, rowing — in fact most Olympic sports — struggle to get any television coverage whatsoever, I have just seen the ultimate sports television travesty .

Yes, I just witnessed the USAPRS League Championships on ESPN2.

What is the USARPS, you might ask? Well, it’s the United States Rock, Paper, Scissors League.

That’s right. Full sports television coverage of a rock, paper, scissors tournament. Tongue-in-cheek? Perhaps, but not to ESPN, who have given it a national audience and more airtime than many legitimate sports.

The League is sponsored by Bud Light, has a grand prize of $50,000 for the championship and features competitors like “Shears” Maanum, who competes while wearing a hooded, silk boxers’ warmup top.They compete inside a small ring and the commentary features terms like “cradling the pump” and “speed pumping.”

Don’t believe me? Check out the USRPS League website. The World Rock, Paper Scissors Society is also a must see, and includes information on Gambit Play, such as “The Avalanche,” in which the player employs three “Rocks” in a row. According to the website, this gambit” is a relentless and devastating offensive maneuver, which requires bravado bordering on recklessness to execute.”

Indeed.

And if you really want to see some hard-hitting athletic action, check out this video at YouTube.

Tongue-in-cheek? Perhaps. But not to ESPN, who have given it a national audience, and more television coverage than many legitimate sports, involving real athletes.

Hmmm…sports channel coverage of spelling bees, poker, and now rock, paper scissors. What’s next— Full college scholarships for Rock, Paper Scissors? NBC coverage of the Channel Changer Time Trials?

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]sports,physical education,coaching,rock paper scissors[/tags]

He’s Not My Quarterback…He’s My Linebacker!

Linebacker - Football Player Making a Tackle

Is your football defense getting dominated up the middle and outrun around the ends? If so, maybe you have the wrong athletes playing linebacker.

According to Sports Illustrated, the latest trend in defense is to emphasize speed over size when selecting linebackers. The position is so important in defense, that many coaches are putting their best players – from both offense and defense – in that position.

Where do you find these players? Possibly among your tailbacks and even quarterbacks. Joe Lemire, High School Football, Quick Hitters, Sports Illustrated, September 10, 2007.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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If They Can Block-Schedule Physical Education, Why Not Lunch?

School-Lunch-Photo_blog

Although physical educators have long realized the importance of Quality Daily Physical Education, the need for such programs is still not a priority for parents and policy makers. This is highlighted by the fact that many school boards still use block-scheduling for physical education classes. That is, they schedule a child’s PE classes in either the first or second semester instead of providing them throughout the school year.

Unfortunately, the administrators who make educational policy are often academics with no grounding in physical fitness—their decisions are based on efficiency rather than sound physiological principles.

This problem were amusingly illustrated as far back as 1990, in a book by Gordon Stewart called “Running Through My Mind.” In this book, he described the thoughts of Dr. Bill Ross of the Department of Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby British Columbia.

Here’s an excerpt from Mr. Stewart’s article, “Games Children Should Play.”

“In spite of the overwhelming evidence of its value, daily physical education is still more a dream than reality. Some schools move even farther from the ideal with a system known as block scheduling, where a subject is taught every day one semester and not at all the next.”

Ask Dr. Ross about block scheduling and he gets even more worked up than he does about childhood games.

“The biological nature of children and youth must be a mystery to educational planners who schedule physical education for students one semester and leave it out the next,” says Dr. Ross. “If they want to be efficient, they should do the same with lunch.

“A lunch period every day is really inefficient. Why not five lunches every Monday? A student could get all his eating finished on the first day of the week and not disrupt his schedule for the remaining four days.

“Ridiculous? No more so than scheduling physical education every day one semester and omitting it from the timetable the next semester. Exercise is a metabolic activity every bit as much as eating is. Daily physical activity is crucial for normal growth and development.”

So where does this leave us? If block-scheduling is here to stay, intramural sports and after-school sports activities are crucial. But a more logical step is to lobby against the crazy practice and to lobby for quality daily physical education.

Reference: Excerpt reprinted with permission of the publisher: Gordon W. Stewart, “Games children should play,” from Running Through My Mind, Victoria: 3S Fitness Group Ltd., 1990.
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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To check out the PE Update.com website, click here
Physical Education Update

[tags]physical education,fitness,children's health, PE scheduling>[/tags]

The Happy Gilmore Driving Technique – Can it Actually Produce Longer Drives?

It’s almost the holiday season, and with that season comes the opportunity to watch movies. One of my all-time favourite sports movies is Happy Gilmore, in which an ex-hockey player, played by Adam Sandler, takes up golf and uses a driving technique that is half golf drive and half hockey slapshot.

It’s a technique that’s unlikely to be effective. Or is it? In fact, Fox Sport Network’s “Sport Science” studied Happy Gilmore’s technique to see if it could actually yield more driving yards. As a subject, they used pro golfer and 2008 PGA Player of the Year, Padraig Harrington. Harrington learned the Happy Gilmore technique, took some test wacks, then compared those drives to his average driving distance of 296 yards.

Rather surprisingly, Harrington’s Happy Gilmore drives were significantly longer than his traditional drives. Truly significant – in fact, 30 yards longer! Of interest, although initiated by a moving run-up, his body position during the swing and at contact were similar to that of his stationary technique.

The explanation? The moving run-up gave him momentum as he took his swing, and also improved his ability to make a larger shoulder turn for better torso torque. The result was an increase in club-head speed from 107 miles per hour to 114 miles per hour!

So why don’t more golfers use the Happy Gilmore technique? The risk of inconsistency and inaccuracy. As Harrington said, “I’m too cautious for that.”

Check out this video of the test.

Happy holidays…and Happy Gilmore too.
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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To check out the PE Update.com website, click here
Physical Education Update

[tags]physical education,golf,golf driving,Happy Gilmore,>[/tags]

The Buddy Bench Improves Inclusiveness During Recess Periods

Recess can be an excellent opportunity for children to engage in fitness activities. However for some children, recess isn’t fun – it’s a cruel reminder that they aren’t part of the in-crowd. Excluded from group games and activities, they stand on the sidelines watching and wishing they were part of the fun.

That’s where the “buddy bench” comes in. First used in Germany, the buddy bench is a simple idea that will help to improve inclusiveness during your school’s recess periods.

The buddy bench is a designated bench that you place on your school grounds. If a student has no one to play with, they sit on the bench. If students see someone sitting on the buddy bench, they know they should ask them to play or join the activities they are engaged in.
To I think
The concept has proven to be extremely effective in schools across North America. The benches have been donated to schools by local businesses, parents, or interested charitable groups. They have also been built by the schools themselves as a group project. The benches can be painted and designed to be visible and can include all sorts of inclusive sayings and mottos.

It’s a great idea. Here’s a video about the buddy bench.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To check out the PE Update.com website, click here
Physical Education Update

[tags]physical education,buddy bench,recess,inclusiveness>[/tags]