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]

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]