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!

Rocco’s Attitude Provided a Tremendous Lesson for Aspiring Athletes

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Imagine your sport. Imagine playing the all-time best player in that sport. Then imagine playing that athlete head-to-head in front of the world…and almost beating him/her.

That’s the situation that faced golfer Rocco Mediate in the U.S. Open last week.

Mediate is a 45-year old journeyman golfer – just recovered from back surgery and ranked only 145th on the tour – who found himself in an incredibly surprising and intimidating situation. Barely qualifying for the tournament, he had put together an incredible three days of golf and found himself facing Tiger Woods in an 18-hole playoff for the the U.S. Open championship.

Imagine the potential for disaster. This wasn’t a one-hole sudden-death playoff in which one or two bad shots would end the tournament. It was a full 18-hole extra round, toe-to-toe against the best player in history, with each hole televised for a huge international audience. It represented the potential for a crushing defeat and incredible humiliation.

How would YOU handle this situation? How did Rocco? In fact, he maintained an attitude that I wish every young athlete could replicate. Here are two quotes that demonstrated his approach, both delivered with a huge smile on his face:

“I’m up against the best in the world. Everyone is expecting me to not win, but I can’t wait to see how I do.”

And after Rocco played Tiger, and lost only after 19 holes of intense play.

“I got what I wanted. I got the chance to beat the best player in the world. I came up just a little bit short, but I think I had him scared for a while.”

That’s right. This playoff was a scenario he had dreamed about since he was a kid. It had finally become reality, so I know he felt doubt and anxiety. But he decided to relish the realization of his life’s dream, not fear it.  And this attitude showed on the course. He played loose and relaxed and had fun… and almost won the tournament. In fact, if not for an incredible putt by Woods on the 18th hole to once again tie the game, Rocco Mediate would have won the U.S. Open.

He provides a valuable lesson for aspiring athletes. If you finally get what you’ve been dreaming about, don’t dread it…embrace it!!

Want to see an interview with Rocco Mediate after the tournament. Check out this YouTube clip:   Rocco Interview

By the way – summer vacation is almost here for most of our physical education readership (at least, for those of you in the northern hemisphere), so I’m going to lighten the schedule for the PE Update blog. We’ll publish only every two or three weeks over the summer.  Heck – you’ll probably all be out trying to become the next Rocco Mediate and won’t have time to read blogs!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]golf,sports,attitude,physical education,athletes,Rocco Mediate,Tiger Woods[/tags]

Masters Basketball Differences

I play in one or two old-men’s basketball tournaments a year (known by the more politically correct as masters basketball tournaments). They are a lot of fun, and are a great way for us over-50 codgers to get a competitive fitness hit.

I have, however, noticed several differences between masters basketball (at least, the way WE play it) and the competitive game from my younger days. For example:

  • You CAN play basketball without having to actually, run, jump or get back on defense.
  • Masters players pass the ball much better than young fellers. Mainly because it’s easier than running! Long fast break passes, however, are usually accompanied by an “ouch” or groaning sound of some sort.
  • Few masters players wear baggy shorts that come down below the knees. Takes too much energy to lift the knees…if we ever get into a situation in which knee-lifting is required.
  • The older the player, the less the feet move on defense, but the harder the hand-checks become. Driving the hoop against a really old player is like running through a threshing machine.
  • Unlike high school players, masters players often don’t WANT to get off the bench.
  • Pre-game nutrition is a different animal. For example, the pre-game breakfast of one of our players this year comprised a plastic container of cold, leftover, hot-sauce chicken wings that had laid on his hotel room floor all night…washed down with some hotel-room coffee. A pre-game meal, by another teammate took place during our normal warmup period and consisted of a club sandwich, fries and a beer. For some reason, he felt sluggish during the game that started 20 minutes later.
  • Apparently, the lifespan of a masters players basketball shoes is 20-30 years. Those sissy high schoolers want a new pair every year!

Masters basketball can indeed be a different game. Ninety per cent of us have realized that we may not make the NBA, but the game keeps us fit and happy and provides a great reason to get together. Having the skills to play, even as we age, is one of the fruits of the physical education and school sports programs we experienced when we were young.

And providing the opportunity for such play for future masters “athletes” is definitely one of the goals of today’s physical educators. Keep up the great work, everybody!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]masters,basketball,physical education[/tags]

Quality Daily Physical Education
Will Reduce Adult Breast Cancer

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New research has revealed yet another reason why quality daily physical education is a must for all students. The study, conducted by Dr. Graham Colditz of the Washington University School of Medicine, found that exercise beginning in the teen years can protect girls from breast cancer when they become adults.

The study tracked 65,000 nurses, questioning them about their activity levels starting at the age of 12.

It was found that the women who were active from their teen years through young adulthood were 23 per cent less likely than sedentary women to develop pre-menopausal breast cancer. It was found that the age period that was most important for sustaining activity levels was 12 to 22.
How much exercise? The women with the lowest risk performed three hours and 15 minutes of vigorous exercise, such as jogging or team sport, per week, or 13 hours per week of walking.

It is believed that exercise reduces women’s lifetime exposure to estrogen, one of the hormones that has been linked to breast cancer.

What is the best way to ensure that girls get this exercise and learn the skills they need to continue into adulthood? Mandatory daily physical education classes – taught by professionals whose focus is on lifetime fitness improvement. Make daily exercise mandatory, and teens will participate. And if they exercise on a regular basis, it will become a healthy habit they will continue throughout their lives.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death among women around the world, with 1.3 million new cases diagnosed every year, resulting in 465,000 deaths.

Lauran Neergaard, “Teen Exercise Protects Against Breast Cancer Later in Life.” The Association Press, May 14, 2008.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]breast cancer,exercise,physical education[/tags]

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]

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

To subscribe to the free PE Tips of the Week Newsletter, Click Here!
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[tags]teen pregnancy,physical education,health class[/tags]