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]

The Balco Performance-Enhancing Drug Regimen

In last week’s article, I described sport in its purest form and how it can reveal the best elements of an athlete’s character. Unfortunately, this week’s post digs into the darker side of athletic competition.

Victor Conte, of the Balco performance-enhancing drug scandal, is now cooperating with drug–testing agencies and has divulged the doping schedule he used with his former client, British sprinter Dwain Chambers.

It’s shocking. Chambers used not one, or two, but SEVEN different performance enhancers, including steroids, insulin and stimulants! And he passed numerous drug tests before finally being caught.

THE DWAINE CHAMBERS DRUG REGIMINE
Here are the drugs he took:

THG. This drug is otherwise known as the designer steroid, “The Clear.” It was used during the off-season on Mondays and Wednesdays – the most intense days for weight training. It was placed under the tongue on those mornings and helped repair muscle tissue damaged during the strength training sessions. The cycle was three weeks on and one week off.

Testosterone/epitestosterone. Applied as a cream in the off-season, its purpose was to replace the deficiency of natural testosterone caused by using THG.

EPO. Thought to be useful only for endurance athletes, it was used to increase red blood cell count, allowing sprinters to perform extra track repetitions. It was used during the first two weeks of every four-week cycle during the off-season. The EPO was injected and is undetectable only 24 hours after an intravenous injection.

Human Growth Hormone (HGH). Injected Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the off-season. It speeds recovery from strength training sessions.

Insulin. Chambers injected it immediately after intense weight training sessions during the off-season, along with a drink containing dextrose, protein and creatine. It promoted muscle repair and growth in addition to packing glycogen into depleted muscles.

Modafinil. Chambers took a tablet an hour before competitions. Acted as a stimulant to reduce feelings of fatigue and improve reaction time.

Liothryonine. This stimulant, designed to improve quickness, was taken one hour before competitions. There is currently no test for this drug.

DRUG USE SUMMARY
So that’s it. Two drugs to promote muscle repair from weight training, one drug to counteract hormone depletion caused by one of these drugs; another drug to allow more training repetitions; one to speed glycogen restoration; and two more to get the athlete “up” for the competition and improve reaction times during block starts. These drugs help the athlete develop a base of strength and fitness that will carry them through the competitive season.

THE DANGERS OF USING THESE DRUGS

What are some of the dangers of using these drugs? Insulin can be overdosed and play havoc with blood sugar levels. HGH can produce cardiac hypertrophy, which eventually can prove fatal. EPO can thicken the blood to the point that athletes can die in their sleep, when their blood pressure drops. And who knows the long-term effects of combining this cocktail of potent drugs.

HOW ATHLETES BEAT THE DRUG TESTS

Is this just a “track and field” program? Of course not. Victor Conte worked with athletes from a number of different sports, including professional baseball.

In fact, track and field has long had the most comprehensive drug testing program of any competitive sport. That’s why it has such a bad reputation for drug use – unlike many of its professional counterparts, the sport has a history of actually catching drug cheats. But how did athletes like Chambers escape the testers?

According to Conte, they used the “Duck and Dodge” strategy. They called their own cell phone until its message capacity was filled. And they filled out incorrect information on their “whereabouts” form, so they couldn’t be contacted. After a cycle of drug use, when they knew they were clean, they would reappear, claiming that their unavailability was a mistake.

Under current rules, athletes are allowed two such mistakes in an 18-month period. Athletes would hope they wouldn’t be contacted for a drug test during their doping cycle, but if they were, they knew they would get two chances before being in danger of sanctions. If they were unfortunate enough to miss a second test “by mistake,” they would simply stop doping.

HOW TO IMPROVE DRUG TESTING

Conte did suggest a method for catching more doped athletes. He strongly advises that most testing be conducted in the fourth quarter of the year, when most drug use is occurring. However, at present only 15% of testing is conducted in this quarter.

Obviously, changes must be made – both in the timing of drug tests and in the penalties applied to those who miss random tests. And there is no doubt that Chambers, and those who follow similar performance-enhancing regimens, did not inadvertently “make a mistake.” Penalties in such a case must be severe and a lifetime ban is definitely appropriate.

Reference: “Victor Conte lays out Dwain Chambers’ doping/steroid protocol; Does Blue Cross/Blue Shield cover this?” Steroid Nation, 5/15/08.
Steroid Nation is an online journal that looks at the use of performance enhancing drugs in sports, youth and society. It is written by Dr. Gary Gaffney, M.D., of the University of Iowa College of Medicine.


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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]performance enhancing drugs,steroids[/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]

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]

Coaches Who “Work the Refs”

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Boo hoo. My favourite teams in the NCAA basketball tournament are gone. My alma mater, Wisconsin, was hammered by my second favorite team, Cinderella squad, Davidson. Then on Sunday, Davidson was beaten by Kansas.

However, an incident in the Stanford versus Marquette game highlighted a coaching tactic that I really hate. The Stanford coach was ejected for walking onto the floor in order to continue complaining about a referee’s call. He had already been warned once about his behavior.

This took place early in the game – with three minutes left in the first half.
While assistant coaches are prepared to take over their team, this was akin to changing a ship’s rudder in the middle of a storm. His team bailed him out – barely. Stanford won on a last-second shot in overtime.

While I respect coach Trent Johnson’s sincere apology in the post-game interview, this incident brings attention to a form of coaching behavior that I truly dislike.

Many coaches, at all levels and in many sports, now feel they aren’t doing their job unless they are “working the refs.” The thinking is, if they complain enough about every questionable call, they’ll get some “make up” calls later in the game.

The result is a constant stream of complaints aimed at the officials…from the same builders of character who preach composure to their athletes.

They might indeed get an extra call here or there. But they also risk losing credibility with the officials when they really DO have a legitimate complaint.

However, the biggest drawback is the message they are sending their athletes. They tell them not to whine and sulk and complain after a bad call. Then they go ahead and do it themselves. It’s a mixed message and one that makes it difficult to develop positive behavior among young athletes.

One reason for this trend? The television attention that coaches get when they are performing their referee rants. It’s a not-so-subtle form of approval for their poor behavior.

Just let the athletes play the game.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]March Madness,NCAA, tournament,sports,sport,basketball,sports, referees[/tags]

Internet Sports Broadcast Brings Back Memories of Ali & Frazier

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When I was a teenager in the early 70’s, long-play records were state-of-the-art and the radio played an important role in the lives of every North American teenager.

A fixture in our living room back then was a large console stereo with a built-in radio and a turntable that could play LP, 45 and 78 records. It also had a built-in radio. We thought it had great sound, and for the time, it probably did.

One of my most vivid memories of that stereo was listening to live sporting events. In those days, such events would be broadcast live on the radio and I vividly remember coverage of the Muhammad Ali fights.

My mother was a huge Ali fan, and we never missed the chance to listen to his fights. I remember sitting in the living room with my family, looking out the picture window at our darkened street while somewhere across the world, Ali battled his arch-rival, Joe Frazier. Our imaginations and the fevered voice of the announcer transported us to that crowded stadium…and having the fight play out in our minds’-eye only increased the tension and excitement.

Things have certainly changed, and fights of that magnitude would now be cable pay-for-view at $75 a pop, and they’d be lost among the other 200 high-definition channels bounced around the world by satellite.

However, the other night I was transported back to those days of Ali and the radio…but in a distinctly lower-scale high-tech way. I’m a fan of our university women’s basketball team – my wife played for them when she was a Laurentian U. student – and we watch as many home games as possible. With most games drawing 1000-2000 fans, Ontario university games aren’t at the level of the NCAA. but the competitions are exciting and the fans lively and loyal.

Last Wednesday, the team was playing a Wednesday night playoff game in Toronto – about five hours away. We couldn’t attend in person, but we learned that we could listen to live coverage provided by our opponent’s student radio station.

So listen we did, to play-by-play accessible via the internet simply by clicking a computer link to their website. It was transmitted by cables to my home’s computer router, where the signal was directed through the air, walls and a floor to a laptop sitting on a living room table.

It really was quite amazing.

We lost by two points in a back-and-forth game. But the experience was reminiscent of the old Ali fights – with the game playing out in my mind and the tension almost as great as if we were sitting at courtside.

And it was all provided courtesy of the internet and new technology. Ten years ago, we never would have experienced this game- the technology wasn’t developed yet. It’s a far cry from LP’s and 8-track tapes, and I can hardly wait to see what the next 10 years will bring.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]sports,Muhammad Ali,Joe Frazier,boxing,radio,fans[/tags]