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]

Small Universities and March Madness

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This is one of my favorite weekends in sports…the first weekend of March Madness. There are so many games televised that I don’t have to leave my LazyBoy for three solid days. I usually get the chance to cheer for my alma mater (Go Wisconsin!) – at least for a few rounds of play. And this is the weekend for upsets, Cinderella teams and universities you’ve never heard of.

And that’s the benefit of sport for many of these smaller schools. It puts their name on a national stage for a few days. It gives them name recognition and, through the “halo effect,” provides an an impression of excellence to prospective students and donors . The subconscious thinking is, “Heck, if they’re good at one thing (basketball), they’re probably good at other things too (like academics).”

Here’s a guide to some of the small, lesser-known schools who have made it to the “big dance.” It’s organized by size of enrollment. Do you know the location of every school?

Davidson College, 1700 Students, Davidson, North Carolina
Mount St. Mary’s, 2100 students, Emmitsburg, Maryland
Sienna, 3000 students, Loudonville, New York
Butler, 4437 students total, Indianapolis, Indiana
Belmont University, 4500 students, Nashville, TN,
Drake, Des Moines, IA, 5000 students
Winthrop, 6292 total students, Rock Hill (Near Charlotte), South Carolina
Xavier, Cincinnati, OH, 6646 students.
Gonzaga, 6736 Students – Spokane Washington
Austin Peay, 9105 students, Clarksville, TN (45 minutes NW of Nashville
Vanderbilt, 11,847 students, also in Nashville,
UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore Country), 12,041 students, Baltimore, MD,,

Compare their enrollments with Michigan State’s 46,000 students.

The hotbed of small schools in the tournament seems to be the Nashville area, with Vanderbilt, Belmont and Austin Peay, all in or near the country-music capital.

And who is this year’s Cinderella team? It seems to be Davidson, who advanced to the Sweet Sixteen by beating Georgetown (enrollment 6500).

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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

Sports Injuries Often Occur Off the Field

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An event during this year’s cross-country running season reinforced the point of an article I wrote several years ago called “Injuries- Check Outside Activities.” (PE Update members can find it using the search bar).

The point of the article was, if your athletes sustain an injury – especially a chronic injury – make sure you know what their outside activities involve. And make sure you know what kind of shoes they use for casual-wear.

What reminded me of that article was one of my female runners who complained of foot pain back in the Fall. A week of non-impact training in the swimming pool didn’t help at all – the pain kept getting worse.

It wasn’t until we saw her mosey into practice one afternoon that we realized what was going on. She was wearing ballet-type slippers. Our campus is hilly with a 15-minute walk on paved streets between some classes. She was wearing the slippers because they were “comfy.”

After advising her to wear better shoes, there was still no improvement for a couple of days. We then thought to ask what she was wearing instead of the slippers. Flip flops. Not much better. She explained that they went with her nail polish (this was in late October in a northern climate). Needless to say, we advised another change in footwear.

A week after exchanging her ballet slippers and flip-flops for regular running shoes, her foot pain was gone. A miracle!!

This is a great example of an injury whose origin wasn’t sport-related. The moral is, be careful when you encounter one of your own athlete’s ailments – they may not have occurred on the playing field at all. And athletes often don’t realize how their non-sport activities can affect their injury status – as a result they may fail to mention such activities to you. You must often be very pointed in your questioning when trying to determine the cause of your athletes’ injuries.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]sports,sport,injuries,sports medicine, coach,coaching[/tags]

Muhammad Ali & the World’s Shortest Poem

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about listening to Muhammad Ali fights on the radio.

As you might guess, I’m a fan of Ali. His pre-fight poetic predictions were renowned and have yet to be topped in the world of sports promotion (“He must fall in eight, to prove I am great.”)

However, one of Ali’s best poems was his shortest. In fact it should stand as the shortest poem in history. It’s shorter than the poem that is often cited as being the shortest. That poem, by Strickland Gillilan, is:

Fleas
Adam Had’em

Ali presented his poem at at the commencement of their senior graduating class at Harvard University. It was given off-the-cuff in response to a request for a poem from a student.

As with most poetry, it is open to interpretation. To me, it’s a poem that speaks of unity and togetherness. Of the power of a group to institute change (it was during the turbulent 60’s). And of how an individual can play an important role within the context of a larger group. To me, it was a brilliant poem, made even more thought-provoking by its brevity.

The poem occurred at the conclusion of a speech in which Ali had urged the graduates to use their education to go out and change the world. At that point, a student shouted through the applause: “Give us a poem!”

As the crowd quieted, Ali said “ME…WE!”

And that’s it. “Me….We.” It was the shortest, and to me, one of the most evocative poems in sport history.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

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[tags]sports,Muhammad Ali,boxing,poems[/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]

Performance Enhancing Drugs – Who Is Hurt the Most?

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With Clemens-Gate and the Mitchell report, performance-enhancing drugs are again major headlines in the media.

For track coaches like me, the revelations about professional baseball players taking performance enhancers is no surprise at all. Since the Ben Johnson affair, track and field has been labeled as the sport most affected by drugs. Is there abuse in track and field…absolutely. But is it the sport most influenced by PE drugs? Not a chance. The fact is, track provides a big paycheck to very few people…a way to achieve a college scholarship perhaps, but it’s not considered the pathway to a multi-million pro sport career.

Logic has always dictated that the major professional sports would be most influenced by performance-enhancing drugs. Football, baseball, basketball, and hockey are all sports in which body mass is an advantage and which provide the greatest financial incentives to use performance-enhancers. Hopefully these professional sports will now take honest measures to prevent PE drug use.

Whether performance-enhancing drugs are dangerous is irrelevant. The rules of these sports say you do not use them. So using is the same as false starting, directing a soccer ball with your hand, double-dribbling or taking a short cut through the woods. It’s cheating and it’s stealing. Period.

Who gets lost in the media coverage of this issue, which usually focuses on fan outrage? In fact, those most affected are the clean athletes who came fourth in the major games, who were beaten out for team selections, couldn’t afford a college degree, missed out on endorsement opportunities, trained clean and worked hard but always came up short when comparing their performance against standards set by cheating competitors. These athletes have been cheated of the rewards they rightfully deserve.

The solution? With the amount of money at stake, there will always be incentives to cheat. But two measures may well tip the scales against PE drug use. First, random, out-of-season, without-warning testing – as is done with track and field. Two: follow the lead of the Australians and freeze both urine and blood samples when testing is performed. Keep it for at least eight years and re-test whenever new technology emerges for detecting designer drugs.

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Dick Moss, Editor,
PE Update.com

P.S. Don’t forget the official launch of the PE Update.com website.
It’s TOMORROW!!

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[tags]sports,performance enhancing drugs, steroids, HGH[/tags]