15-Passenger Van Problems

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The most dangerous aspect of coaching is travel. School teams are frequently transported by van, often with the coach at the wheel. I’ve been that driver/coach dozens of times, and it can be risky business.

Coaches experience an adrenaline crash after competition and must often fight fatigue at the wheel. And being the captain of a vehicle containing other people’s children is an incredible responsibility. Their lives and the well-being of their families and friends is literally in your hands. The frightening thing is that their safety is sometimes out of your control. Snow, fog, oncoming drivers (possibly impaired), rain and ice may all be the cause of an accident you can’t prevent.

That’s why my heart goes out to the families of the high school athletes in New Brunswick, who were killed recently while driving home from an inter-school basketball game. I particularly feel for the coach who was at the wheel when their van hit a patch of ice and slid uncontrollably into the path of an oncoming transport. It’s every coach’s nightmare.

It has yet to be been determined whether it was a contributing factor, but the team was traveling in a 15-passenger van. Studies have shown that these vans lose their ability to maneuver when fully loaded. Part of the problem is that adding passengers to such vehicles raises their center of gravity, reducing their stability. The other problem is their configuration, in which a large portion of the vehicle extends past the rear wheels. It’s an unstable design.

Many schools now prohibit the use of such vans. This leaves many teams with a problem— how to provide transport to away games. A common solution is to rent two 7-passenger vans. The problem is a slightly higher cost and the fact that you need two drivers. This is a trade-off because the chances of finding two experienced drivers are less than finding a single driver who is good behind the wheel. The other option is to rent a bus with a professional driver. The obvious problem here is cost.

There is another solution — a 12-passenger van. They are essentially the same as a 15-passenger, but less of the vehicle extends beyond the rear wheels. Our squad has been using them this year and they’ve worked well. There’s enough room in the back luggage area to accommodate at least one bag for most of your passengers. And the cost is about the same as a 15-passenger van. Not all vehicle rental companies carry them, so don’t give up if the first company you contact says they’re not available.

It’s worth looking into.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]sports,vans,team,physical education,coaching[/tags]

Injury Excuse Extraordinaire

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I have heard many reasons for injury in my 25 years of coaching. Some were beauties, but I think the one I heard this week is the best ever.

One of my sprinters has been nursing a sore hamstring. When I asked him how he had strained the muscle, his response was that he was playing hockey…video game hockey!

That’s right, he pulled a muscle playing a video game.

His full explanation: he was sitting on a chair with his legs upraised, feet resting on his bed and the controller on his lap. As he was playing, he kept shifting his weight back and forth and sideways while avoiding checks from virtual defensemen. When he stood up to go the bathroom, he found that he’d pulled his hammie.

I give him full credit for honesty. He must have been tempted to say he’d pulled the muscle while squatting 400 pounds or performing uphill sprints in the snow.

Do you have an injury that matches this? Send it in the comments section, or through the PE Update discussion forum!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]sports,physical education,injury,coaching[/tags]

Technological Advance in Hockey Skates…Why?

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There’s a new innovation in ice hockey that the inventor believes will “revolutionize the game of hockey.”

Called “Thermoblades” it’s a new type of hockey skate that uses rechargeable batteries and computer microprocessors to heat the skate blades.

The result is a thicker layer of water between the blade and the ice surface, which reduces friction and increases skating speed.

Hockey great, Wayne Gretzky was so impressed that he invested in the company. Four NHL players have been anonymously testing them in game conditions. The product launch was at the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the projected cost of the skates will be $400 Canadian.

My question is..why?

This innovation is, quite simply, a technological shortcut to a performance advantage. Those with Thermoblades will get a speed-boost versus those with traditional skates.

The only way to avoid an unfair advantage is if everyone gets the new skates. Not everyone can afford such skates, but there will be incredible pressure for every player, and parent, to keep up.

Ultimately, players will get faster, but so will their opponents. And once that happens, the performance advantage versus contemporary opponents disappears. So really, the game will simply get more expensive. For parents struggling to keep their kids in the sport, this is not good news at all. Neither is the potential increase in hockey injuries that may result when kids are hitting each other and the boards at a faster speed.

This situation reminds me of the introduction of clap skates to the long-track speed skating world. Clap skates became widely used just before the 1998 Olympics in Japan and resulted in a flood of world in Nagano. Whoopee! Big deal. Was it the athlete, or the skates? This technological innovation produced a number of record holders who will never know if they really were faster than their predecessors. And now, all top-level speed skaters use clap skates – they have to.

Hockey administrators: don’t allow the new skates in youth leagues. Keep the rink “level for all players. If you want a sport that can compare generations of athletes — and that’s what sports records are all about – forget about equipment advances that produce an artificial improvement in the quality of performance.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]hockey,skates,records,physical education,sports,sport[/tags]

Report Card from 17 Years of Resolutions

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Completely by chance, I just read an article I wrote 10 years ago for PE Digest.com. The article dealt with my New Year’s resolutions from the year 1990, and how well I had performed.

I am definitely a pitiful resolution-keeper and in 2007, I find that I’d still get a “D” on my 1990 resolution list. In fact, I may have slipped a bit. For example, I DID look up the word perspicacious, but I’ve since forgotten what it means. And I no longer use a computerized organizer – its “to do” list just kept getting longer and longer and I couldn’t stand the constant beeping and nagging.

So, as 2007 draws to a close, here’s the article I wrote 10 years ago, almost to the day.

“I had been putting it off for years, but I finally tackled the monumental task of weeding through my filing cabinet. It was stuffed to the bursting point with hundreds of the article ideas I’ve stored over the past 10 years.

Strangely, among this mass of paper was a single handwritten note, entitled “New Year’s Resolutions, 1990.”

It was an eye-opener. Here, from many years ago, was a list of my concerns, personal issues and plans for improvement as a human being and an editor. I offer them up to you, along with a report card on my progress.

Be warned, this is not an inspirational story. Don’t ever show it to your children—unless you don’t care whether they ever get their chores or homework finished on time. However, if you have a psychologist friend in need of a grant, this chronicle of woe could be crafted into a great case study on pathological procrastination.

Resolutions
1. To start that weight training program I’ve told myself to start every year since 1986.
[Grade: E]
I still haven’t started that darned program. However, I did purchase a strength training machine six years ago. It makes a lovely plant stand in our den.

2. Learn to type all the numbers on the top row of my computer keyboard without looking.
[Grade: D+]
I’m not bad with “1” and “0,” but I have to peek to get the rest.

3. To actually get organized and schedule my week ahead of time.
[Grade: B]
I’ve purchased a computerized daytimer, that I even sometimes remember to use…mainly because it gets mad and beeps at me when I don’t check it.

4. Learn to spell the word “perspicacious.” Then learn what it means.
[Grade: D]
It’s a neat sounding word. I really should learn to use it.

5. Learn to draw a person’s face.
[Grade: D]
Look at the drawings in this issue’s football, basketball or swimming articles and you’ll see that I still don’t do faces. I just can’t get those darned noses to look right!.

6. Slow down so I can type a whole line without making a mistake.
[Grade: D]
I sure can type fast. I just can’t type straight. I guess I couldn’t seven years ago either.

7. Learn to dribble a basketball with my left hand.
[Grade: C]
In my old geezers basketball games, I’m now able to bring the ball up the court with my left hand. I still don’t use it when anyone’s close to me though].

8. Learn to enjoy watching race-walking, opera and synchronized swimming.
[Grade: D]
I’ve tried. Honest…I have.

My resolutions for the coming year? Apparently, all of the above. Plus, I hereby pledge to stop writing Editor’s Notes at 1:00 am the night before my deadline.”

May your 2008 resolutions be more productive than mine!!

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,sports,sport,New Year's,resolutions[/tags]

Christmas List for a Sport & Physical Education Editor

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Well, it’s the morning of Christmas eve and, while it’s too late to write Santa, I do have a few Christmas wishes related to sport. This Christmas, I wish:

…For two new hamstrings to be left in my Xmas stocking. My old ones are broken.

…That NFL quarterback great, Brett Favre, would finally admit that his name should be pronounced “Favréy” not “Farve.”

…That they’d get rid of the offside rule in soccer. There are only a couple of goals in most games. Why not live a little?

…That NHL hockey players would stop the tradition of not shaving during the playoffs. Between facial scars and lack of teeth, they don’t need a scruffy beard to look mean and ugly.

…They’d let 400m runners cut in after the first turn. And a three-turn stagger in 4 x 400 relays is ridiculous. Heck, nobody knows who’s in first until most of the race is over.

…That my personal fast break skills were once again, actually…, well, fast.

…That synchronized swimmers will finally find an alternative to the nose clip. Nose clips are not a good look for a cosmetic sport. Nostril corks would be better.

…That golf courses be forced to allow two hours per day for walking, jogging, picnicking…and cross-country running practices! All that nice grass is too nice to use only for golf

…That NBA referees finally start to call their millionaire players for traveling. It’s one of the first rules you teach a beginner, and if a 10 year old isn’t allowed to travel, neither should the pros.

…For a no-spitting rule in baseball. Heck, other players may have to slide on the that stuff.

…That we could all settle our differences with balls, not bombs.

…A happy holiday season to you and yours.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]physical education,sports,sport,Christmas,wish list[/tags]

Officials Might be Tougher Than Athletes

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Some of the National Football League games this weekend were conducted in blizzard conditions – it was exceptionally enjoyable watching them from in front of my fireplace on my LazyBoy chair.

In the Buffalo versus Cleveland snow-bowl, you’d see the players complete their series of downs in the driving winds and ankle-deep snow, then head for the sidelines and their blankets and heaters. But you know who didn’t have the option of heading for the sidelines? The officials – they were on the field for both offensive and defensive play, dressed in skimpy referee shirts, and doing more standing than running. Youch – it made me shiver as I sipped my hot chocolate and put another log on the fire.

And it made me think of the Canadian Cross-Country Running Championships that I wrote about two weeks ago, and the cold, snowy conditions that faced the athletes…and the officials there.

The officials and race organizers were stuck outside from long before the race began, to long after: setting up, getting the races started, collecting and compiling results, and finally, retrieving the course marking, long after the party had disbanded – unlike the athletes, who warmed up, raced, then headed for their warm van or tent.

In my sport, track and cross-country, most officials are volunteers. And most are committed to a long watch – in the case of championship track meets, often two or three days at a time. And if the weather is bad (and I’ve been to many meets where it has been raining and barely above freezing), well, tough – they can’t escape the elements like the athletes and coaches who often sit in their shelters griping about why the meet is running so slowly.

To tell you the truth, I’ve never been able to figure out the motivation of these officials. But whatever that motivation is, I’m grateful for it. Without dedicated officials, our sport…any organized sport…could not exist.

So, as the year winds down, thanks to all the officials of outdoor sports: the soccer, rowing, track, football, (and many more) officials who must brave the elements and without whom there would be no organized competitions. Have yourself a great holiday break…we’ll be needing you in 2008!

By the way, we have readers from over 17 countries now, and many of you may never have seen football in the snow. So, to take a look at the game I was watching yesterday, check out this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTN-MSsOssU

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]football,physical education,sports,officials[/tags]