A Lesson From the Winter Olympics – Don’t Regret Taking a Risk

Ski-Crash_web1

The Winter Olympics have been my constant companion since the first minutes of the opening ceremonies. In fact, they’re on my office TV as I write this blog.

I’m a proud Canadian and have watched a number of Canucks, some of them favorites in their event, finish off the podium.

Skeleton racer and race favourite, Melissa Hollingsworth dropped from 2nd to finish fifth on her last run of the competition. Chris del Bosco, in sight of the finish line with a solid bronze medal in his pocket, took a risky jump and hit the deck. He finished fourth. Bobsledder Lyndon Rush crashed his sled after an excellent start – he was in third place at the time. A number of our Canadian downhill and grand slalom skiers fell on the icy slopes at Whistler.

I couldn’t be prouder of them.

Why? Because these athletes could have played it safe and settled for a performance that might have netted a minor medal but would have, in their mind, been mediocre. Instead, they rolled the dice and went for it all.

There is no big payout without big risk.

It’s a concept I am constantly trying to teach my young athletes. I ask them never to regret taking a gamble and pushing for more. Sometimes taking a risk works and sometimes it doesn’t, but they’ll never know their limits unless they try.

Thank you, Mellisa and Chris and everyone who has taken a gamble on that biggest of stages. For some of you, it has paid off wonderfully. For others it hasn’t. But it’s better to test your limits and crash then to always wonder how much better you could have been. It’s what competing and pushing for excellence is all about. It’s what the Olympics are supposed to be all about.

dick_headshot_web8.jpg

Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To check out the PE Update.com website, Click Here!
To subscribe to the free Fun Stuff for PE Newsletter, Click Here!

[tags]Winter Olympics,Olympic skeleton,Olympic ski cross,Olympic bobsled,Olympic Downhill[/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_headshot_web8.jpg

Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To subscribe to the free Fun Stuff for PE Newsletter, Click Here!
To check out the PE Update.com website, Click Here!

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

Track Broadcasting Needs Better Announcers

hurdlers_web2.jpg

I’m a track fan, so I really enjoyed watching the World Track and Field Championships over the past two weeks. Fortunately, I was able to watch three different versions of the meet: NBC, CBC and the live feed the live feed on the internet as provided by the CBC and Universal Sports websites.

And once again, it has become very clear why viewership for the sport is so poor in the U.S.  The television commentary provided by NBC was so horrible it detracted from the enjoyment of the event. Little technical information was provided – not enough to educate new fans or please aficionados. Lead play-by-play man, Tom Hammond sounded like a parody of an FM-radio announcer, and colour man, Ato Bolden, while certainly a knowledgeable sprinter and a huge step up from Carol Lewis, babbled incessantly at a volume so high it sounded like he was announcing professional wrestling. Dwight Stones and Lewis Johnson seemed to compete with each in making ridiculous comments, and trackside interviews were often inane and showed a lack of knowledge of the sport…for example, asking athletes, were still breathing hard after their events, what they thought about Jesse Owens.

The CBC team of Mark Lee and Michael Smith is much better and I enjoy listening to them. Smith has improved every year and with his decathlete’s background knows what he’s talking about.

However,  the Cadillac of track commentating was provided by the Brits who announced the live feed on the internet. They demonstrated a combination of expertise, authority, eloquence, passion and frequently amusing turns of phrase. They were able to convey excitement by raising their voices only when warranted. Here are some examples of commentary by the Brits:

“Away it goes, high and handsome. Splendid form for Thorkildsen!”
“He really did hit it through the point of the javelin.”

“When he’s good, he’s very, very good. When he’s bad, he’s very, very bad. Tactically inept at times, but sometimes he can be devastating.”

“Victory, yes, but for how long. Rodgrigues definitely tried to push her way through a space that just wasn’t there. The tragedy of this is, even if the Spaniard is disqualified, Burka will never get a medal.”

“Oh dear, it’s another no-jump. Three no-jumps in the final of a world championship. No wonder she’s distraught.”

“Beekele ran 2:24 over the last 1000m of the 5k – equivalent to running a 3:36 1500m over the last part of the race. That’s why Lagat didn’t have enough to hold him off at the end.”

Here’s a video example of exciting track commentary:
British Announcer – Usain Bolt’s 100m
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAPqQMCI9H4

Compare to the NBC coverage of the same race:

NBC Coverage
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qslbf8L9nl0

If Americans ever want to develop support for athletics in their country, they should hire a British coverage team.

dick_headshot_web8.jpg

Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To subscribe to the free PE Tips of the Week Newsletter, Click Here!
To check out the PE Update.com website, Click Here!

[tags]track and field,IAAF Championships,World Track and Field Championships,track announcing,track announcers[/tags]

Women’s Teams, Bus Travel and Chick Flicks

bus_blog.jpg

Laurentian University, where I coach the women’s track and cross-country teams, is four hours north of Toronto, and most of our competition venues are at least that far away. (I also coach a track club, but that’s for other blog posts).

So we  do a lot of driving. In the past, we travelled in vans, but this year our fortunes changed dramatically. We now use a 30 passenger coach,  It’s heaven! The difference in stress levels after a bus-trip versus a van trip is astronomical. In fact, I’m typing this blog while sipping tea in the front seat of the bus. We’re flying down the highway and I can see the fall colors flashing past, and rivers and lakes and other spectacular views. The bus has a bathroom, luggage compartment,  reclining seats and a professional driver.

It has one other feature that sounds wonderful, but is a double-edged sword – a DVD player with five screens and speaker system. Movies! What a great way to wile away the hours!

Or so I thought. On our first trip in the bus, I made a fatal mistake. Continue reading Women’s Teams, Bus Travel and Chick Flicks

Politicians! We Need a National Fitness Strategy and a New National Identity!

politicians-running_web.jpg

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

golfer_silouette_web.jpg

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!

dick_headshot_web8.jpg

Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

To subscribe to the free PE Tips of the Week Newsletter, Click Here!
To check out the PE Update.com website, Click Here!

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