“Hurricane” Hazel McCallion Illustrates the Benefits of Lifetime Fitness

Hazel_blogAs the end of 2009 approaches, I’ll leave you with an illustration of the true end-goal of  successful physical education programs – an example of the benefits of a lifetime of consistent exercise.

Hazel McCallion, at 88 years of age, has been the mayor of Mississauga for the past 31 years!  Nicknamed “Hurricane Hazel,” mayor McCallion has an approval rating of 92%, and has won 11 straight elections. She has outlasted eight Canadian prime ministers and has her own bobble-head doll.

Mississauga, a former suburb of Toronto, is the 6th largest city in Canada. Under McCallion’s direction, it is completely debt-free and has 700 million in reserves.

The mayor is incredibly busy, but includes exercise in her hectic schedule. A former player in a women’s professional hockey league, she leaves her skates and hockey stick in the trunk of her car so she has them wherever she goes. She sometimes sneaks into a hockey rink during the day with a stick and puck and skates around on her own. She bowls, uses an exercise bike and is incredibly fit and vital.

Check out the following video of a Rick Mercer interview (from CBC’s comedy show, the Mercer Report)  with Mayor McCallion and watch her engage in some of her favourite exercise activities, including hockey, bowling and exercise cycling.


Have a happy holiday, everyone! I’ll see you in 2010! (Our next blog posting will be on January 4th).


Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,fitness,Hazel McCallion,Mississauga[/tags]

Football Games and the True Excitement in Sport

FBall_web1I’m a big NFL football fan. In particular (after having attended the University of Wisconsin for six years), a follower of the Green Bay Packers. To me, one of the consolations for Fall’s shorter days and colder temperatures is the fact that I get to watch NFL football on Sundays.

That said, the two most exciting games on television over the past two weeks didn’t take place in the NFL. They were games in “lesser” leagues north of the border.

One example was the Canadian university game between Queen’s and Laval universities for the Mitchell Bowl, the Eastern Conference Championships. In this barn-burner, passing sensation Danny Brannagan of Queen’s built up a huge lead in the first half only to have Laval charge back in the second half, gain possession with two minutes to go, then ultimately lose by only three points. The game was broadcast only in French…which I don’t speak. Yet I couldn’t stop watching. The 6000 fans in the stands might have been 60,000, they were making so much noise.

The second example was yesterday’s Grey Cup game. This championship of the Canadian Football League (CFL) followed a similar scenario, in which the underdog Saskatchewan Rough Riders built up a two-touchdown lead, only to squander it and have the game come down to a final drive and a 43-yard last-second field goal attempt by the favoured Montreal Alouettes. That field goal attempt was wide, but a too-many-men-on-the-field infraction gave Montreal a do-over from the 33 yard line. Kicker Damon Duval, who had been horrible all game, put it through the uprights to give Montreal the win. It was shocking, and exciting and I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen.

My point is…the excitement in sports isn’t determined by big salaries, big budgets and media hype. It comes down to hard competition and the ebbs and flows of a close game between two equal teams. And to the gut-wrenching pressure of last-second win-it-all plays. And that can happen at any level, including elementary and high school – as I’m sure all of you involved in scholastic sports already know!


Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]football,physical education,competition,Grey Cup,Mitchell Cup,CFL,CIS,NFL[/tags]

Dirty Players – Big Brother is Watching


I’m sure many of you have seen it on television sportscasts – a video of dirty play in a soccer match between college varsity teams from New Mexico and  BYU.  It showed New Mexico’s Elizabeth Lambert engaging in dirty tricks such as elbowing an opponent in the back; kicking a ball into a player’s face; kneeing an opponent in the stomach; punching in the face; and most damaging, pulling an opponent’s ponytail from behind so hard that it dropped her like a stone and had the potential to cause major whiplash.

The video has gone “viral” and in addition to appearing on YouTube, has been shown on major sports news broadcasts all over North America. Do I know the whole story? No. Was there major provocation? Maybe – at least one of her “shots” was in retaliation for an elbow she received.

Lambert is apparently a master in choosing her moments, because most of these infractions went unpenalized. However, in an age in which video cameras are everywhere: in the hands of parents, fans, team staff…and in cell phones…it’s no longer easy to get away with such behaviour.

Elizabeth Lambert is reported by teammates to be a wonderful person off the soccer pitch. She has apologized and the negative attention has punished her well beyond what is normal. And she was also suspended indefinitely. But none of this would have happened if she hadn’t been caught on tape.

And dirty is dirty. With a recent study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine indicating that, every year, over 14,000 serious sports injuries at the high school level occur because of illegal player activity, such behaviour cannot be tolerated.

So, dirty players, beware. Even if the refs don’t see you, someone in the stands will take notice. And that someone may have a video camera!

The video is below:


Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,dirty play in sport,sport infractions,sport ethics[/tags]

We Must Teach Students That Walking is a Form of Transportation


In most of the world, people walk to get places. They walk to school, they walk to work. If they don’t walk, they ride a bike.

However, in North America, our car-culture has given us a generation of children who don’t consider their feet to be a mode of transportation.

The bus takes them to school. If the bus doesn’t stop at their front door, parents give them a drive to the bus stop. Mom and Dad drive them to activities – including sports activities. Their friends drive them to the mall.  They have the impression that anywhere worth going to is too far to walk, when in fact, that walk might take only 15 minutes. It may not actually BE a long walk, but it might seem far when you’ve only ever driven it.

One of the best things you can do in PE class is to make your students walk around your neighborhood. Show them how long it takes to get places.  Tell them to walk to the mall and time how long it takes. Walk for 15 minutes down a street. How far did they get?  Have them walk in the rain with umbrellas. Have them walk in the snow. Make these classes an exercise in transportation.

Show them that their feet weren’t just designed for standing…or even for sports. They were designed to get them places. And amazingly, their feet can get them places in bad weather. Show them that walking is basic human transportation…in addition to one of the best fitness activities they can perform.

These classes will give them a feeling of freedom when they realize they don’t have to depend on Mom and Dad to drive them everywhere. Tell them to think of it as an exercise in personal freedom and emancipation from their parents. That’s an easy sell for most kids!

Heck – during these activities, they may even walk by their house. The house they take a bus from every morning.

P.S. And yes, when I was a child, I DID walk 20 miles to school, in the snow, barefoot, both ways uphill. But that’s a story for another posting 🙂


Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,fitness,walking,youth fitness,[/tags]

Physical Education Waivers Make No Economic Sense


Here’s an excellent example of politicians not understanding the benefits of physical education – cutting physical education as a way to reduce costs, but penalizing the taxpayer millions of dollars as a consequence.

The Ohio legislature, which currently requires only one-half of a PE unit for high school, has further softened this requirement by allowing school districts to waive the PE requirement for students who participate in two years of varsity sport, cheerleading…or band!

Well, unless it’s a marching band, there’s not much fitness involved in playing the flute. And more to the point, neither band, cheerleading nor varsity sports are as effective as PE in developing the skills and knowledge needed to pursue a healthy lifestyle throughout the lives of their students.

That’s because it’s possible for students to participate in varsity sports, yet gain an incomplete skill-set for maintaining a healthy lifestyle throughout their adult years. A good physical education class develops the skills needed for lifetime fitness: the eye-hand coordination and familiarity with racquet sports needed for a  XC runner to play badminton or squash; the nutritional knowledge needed for a football lineman to maintain his body weight after this playing days are done; the confidence needed for a former wrestler to attend an aerobics class or a soccer player to join a golf-club.

It’s possible for a former swimmer to end up working in a town that has no pool, but has tennis courts available. An ex-basketball player may not have time to play hoops but could fit in a jog…if she knew how to approach it without causing injury. Both would benefit from the knowledge about health, flexibility, fitness and nutrition that PE classes provide.

The irony is, the cost of inactivity in Ohio is estimated to be $3.3 billion per year!!! Statistics show that almost 2/3 of Ohio adults are overweight or obese and only 47% of Ohio adults get a sufficient amount of physical activity.

And the Ohio legislature thinks that eliminating PE jobs will save money? In fact, good economics indicate that they should be INCREASING the numbers of qualified physical educators and mandating daily physical education. That’s a measure that would save the taxpayers millions of dollars!


1. Elin Walsh, “Falls Schools weigh means of saving, making more money.” Cuyahoga (Ohio) Falls News-Press, March 22,  2009,



2. Ohio’s Physical Activity Plan,  2009




Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,physical education waivers,PE,PE waivers,physical education and economics[/tags]

Where Are All the Soapbox Cars?


My most memorable childhood playthings weren’t factory-made. When I think back, I had the most fun swordfighting with poplar saplings, sliding down snowy slopes on cardboard boxes and playing battleships with homemade graph paper.

I‘ll never forget our day-long sod fights up in the woods—protecting  forts hammered together from old crates and using ammunition made from clumps of grass with dried soil still attached—or the satisfying puff of dirt that signified a direct hit on an opponent’s clean shirt.

But when was the last time you saw a child playing with a soapbox racer made from scrap lumber or a crystal radio set that they had assembled themselves?

Maybe it’s just me, but it’s been quite a while since I’ve noticed any kid in my neighborhood using homemade playthings—such relics have all been replaced by space-age technology from the toy factory.

Nope—a poplar sapling doesn’t stand a chance against a battery-operated Jeddi sword with sound effects and luminous plastic blade. Why rely on gravity to move your soapbox car when a mere $500 will buy you a fully operational miniaturized electrical sports vehicle.  Graph-paper Battleship games are now computerized, and air-powered splatter guns with washable die pellets have replaced our hand-tossed dirt sods. Crystal radio sets have been supplanted by 400 pound boom-boxes with enough power to stuff the Toronto Skydome with thumping, stereophonic sound.

Let’s face it, this is not the decade of do-it-yourself kids.  And while I must confess that I had my share of high-tech gizmos as a kid, including a T-V ping-pong game and a slot car racing track, none of them occupied much of my play-time.

Today, many kids have the attitude that if it isn’t store-bought and doesn’t have a peer-accepted designer label, it isn’t worth using.  And that’s a shame.  Our children are missing the great satisfaction of playing with one’s own creations. And with this, they’re losing the ability to improvise, to innovate, and to create something usable, if not perfect, out of nothing.

Perhaps as physical educators, we should provide more encouragement for creative improvisation. Check the “Equipment” section of the PE Update website and you’ll find dozens of ideas for home-made sports and PE equipment: everything from tin can walkers and 2”x4” balance boards, to garden-hose quoits and  pizza box hurdles. Here are some other ideas—some tongue in cheek and some not— that might improve our childrens’ dearth of plaything creativity:

  • Make MacGyver re-runs required television viewing for all school-age children.  Although our students may never need to know how to make an atomic bomb out of a comb and a lipstick tube, the program’s emphasis on creativity and improvisation is valuable.
  • Allow each student one hour a week in the school dumpster to find materials to build their own game or sports implement.  This “dumpster time” will also reduce the school’s waste output.
  • Provide an extra classification for school waste materials included in blue-box programs.  One box for glass and metals, one for paper products, one for organic material…and one for kids.
  • Use P.E. class as a “market” for your students’ creative efforts.  Sometimes all it takes to get a child’s creative juices flowing is an expressed need for it.  Scoops made from bleach containers, tin-can walkers, home-made hoola hoops, broomhandle aerobics implements—these are all examples of phys-ed equipment your students can make and use in class.

Perhaps our growing awareness of the environment and the trend towards recycling will make home-made playthings more acceptable to young people.  And as teachers, we can use this new attitude to develop our students’ ability to improvise and innovate.

P.S. In case I’ve given you the impression that I was a combination Huck Finn/Thomas Edison as a child, I have a confession to make…I never was able to  get my crystal radio set to work, and I’d personally like a light-saber.


Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,children's play,games,sports equipment[/tags]