One Field, Three Sports

blog.jpg

Last week, I witnessed a great example of the optimal use of facilities and cooperation between sports teams.

Lockerby Composite is a high school of about 1000 students within the city of Sudbury, Ontario. While the school has a great sports tradition, its outdoor facilities are limited to a single football field, bordered by houses, a rock outcrop, a parking lot and the back walls of the school itself.  It also has a small asphalt tennis court, bordered by a strip of grass separating the court from a busy street.

What I witnessed last week were two varsity practices and an inter-school competition all conducted simultaneously on these limited facilities.

The senior boys varsity football team was practicing on one half of the football field, while the girls flag football squad was running drills on the other half. At the same time, an inter-school cross-country race was being run, starting on the strip of grass beside the tennis court and running loops around several city blocks before finishing in the end zone of the football field. Three coaches, three varsity teams, all successfully sharing the same facility. You obviously don’t need Cadillac facilities to get it done. Way to go, Lockerby!

By the way,  this blog will continue as a bi-weekly from now on. We began as a weekly but went bi-weekly over the summer months. Feedback was so good that we’ll continue publishing every second week. Sometimes PE teachers have so much information thrown at them that keeping up becomes a chore.

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]physical education,school,sports,cooperation,football,cross country running[/tags]

More Notes From An Olympic Observer

hurdles_women_blog.jpg

With the Olympics over, there is now a huge gap in my life that only watching 18 hours of daily television sports can fill.

During the games, I was occasionally able to wrench my bloodshot eyes from the television screen long enough to jot down some observations. Here they are:

Race Walking
I’m not a race walking fan. It’s a contrived form of locomotion, in which highly trained athletes are confined by unnatural rules that they all break. For example, “lifting” is illegal – it’s when both feet are off the ground at the same time. Yet, most race walkers do it at some point in the race. Slow motion video of the competitors leaving the Olympic stadium showed a number of them cheating in this manner.

Michael Phelps in School
Michael Phelps, because of his ADHD in school, was once told by a teacher that he’d never be able to focus on anything. Apparently, with Phelps winning eight gold medals in swimming, that teacher was wrong.

Synchronized Swimming
I realize synchronized swimming athletes are highly trained and the sport is difficult, but, it reminds me of cheerleading…in the water…with nothing but upside down legs showing…and with the cheerleaders wearing weird makeup, cheezy smiles and nose clips. I’m afraid I can’t get myself to like it.

The Most Cruel Event
The hurdles must be the most cruel of events. You are never more than 10m from disaster, as Lolo Jones, who had been decisively leading the 100m hurdle final, found out when she clipped the ninth hurdle and dropped from first to seventh in the blink of an eye. Ironically, she probably hit that hurdle because she was running too fast – which is the point in sprint events. That extra speed can change your stride pattern, taking you too close to the upcoming hurdles.

Volleyball Artillery
The Brazilians were serving the volleyball at 118 km/hour. Not spiking, serving! Their serves looked like cannonballs coming across the net.

BMX Biking
BMX biking. Quite a spectacle and very exciting, with lots of crashes and spectacular jumps. But those BMX bikes remind me of the tiny bikes the clowns ride in the circus.

Medal Incentives
One thing I didn’t realize was that the American Olympic medalists receive a financial bonus for winning medals: $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. Canadians receive $20,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. The money is a nice incentive, but it’s tough to live on that for four years.

Grace in Defeat
You can tell more about an athlete’s true character after a crushing defeat than after a win. I was impressed with sprinter Tyson Gay – America’s top hope in the sprints. Gay failed to qualify for the 100m finals, then was involved in the botched exchange of the 4 x 100m relay. Although he had pulled a hamstring in the U.S. Olympic trials, he refused to use it as an excuse (although it WAS a factor), and took full responsibility for the botched exchange, although it wasn’t all his fault. Tyson Gay has a new fan and it’s me. I’m also a new fan of U.S. hurdler Lolo Jones, whose following post race interview was an inspiration:
Lolo Jones Interview

I realize it was a controversial decision, but kudos to the International Olympic Committee for awarding the Olympics to China. Yes, China is still a repressive state, and yes they should leave Tibet alone. But China possesses an ancient culture, expanding economy and form of government that are gradually opening themselves to the world. And these Olympics were a wonderful, if small, step in that direction. Getting to know athletes from other cultures on a personal level is one of the true benefits of the Olympics and it’s why boycotts are a bad idea. Don’t YOU feel like you know China a little better after the Games?

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]Olympics,Michael Phelps,Lolo Jones,hurdles[/tags]

Olympic Observations – Bolt & Lezak

swim_blog.jpg

With the summer Olympics at the half-way mark, here are some observations:

Track – Usain Bolt
After watching Usain Bolt shattering the world record with a 9.69 in the 100m, I realize I have been coaching the event all wrong. I always thought sprinters had to use their arms in the last 20 metres of the race. Apparently holding them out like wings while pounding the chest is faster. I can hardly wait to implement this new technique!

Swimming
Michael Phelps winning eight gold medals in swimming was a super story.

But the best race performance, for me, was watching his teammate, 32 year-old Jason Lezak on the final leg of the of the 4 x 100m freestyle relay.

Lezak was anchoring against the world record holder in the 100m freestyle, Alain Bernard, of France. Bernard had done some trash-talking before the race, stating that the French team would smash the Americans. As the race progressed and the final exchange took place, it  appeared that Bernard’s prediction would come true, as he entered the water almost body-length ahead of Lezak.

However, as the Frenchman raced down the pool, he edged too close to his lane line. Lezak, the canny veteran, realizing the mistake, edged over to their shared line and drafted behind Bernard, riding his bow-wave, like a dolphin with a ship.  It was a rookie error on Bernard’s part, and Lezak made him pay.

With 10 metres to go, Lezak, who had expended a fraction of the energy of the Frenchman, made his charge, head bobbing, legs thrashing and arms flailing furiously.  The move was so dramatic, that he almost appeared to lift out of the water. Lezak out-touched Bernard by 8/100th of a second after having swum the fastest relay leg in history.

It was something to see. Michael Phelps deserves the attention he’s receiving, but he owes his record of 8 gold medals to Jason Lezak.

There will be more Olympic observations in the next blog.

P.S. Bernard later redeemed himself by winning the 100m freestyle in a new world record.

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]Olympics,Usain Bolt,Jason Lizak,swimming,track[/tags]

Airlines – The Tilting Seat Dilemma

airplane_passenger_web1.jpg

I don’t like air travel.

It’s because I have a slight case of claustrophobia, that shows itself only occasionally…like when I get caught in an avalanche, become pinned under a toppled elephant, or travel in an airplane. Sometimes the latter is worst of the three situations.

Having just completed a team trip involving air travel – and knowing there are other claustrophobic fliers out there – here’s a suggestion to the airlines that will help those with my affliction.

WELD THOSE SEATS SO THEY CAN’T BE TILTED BACK!!!

Why, when there is only about two feet of space between your face and the back of the seat ahead of you, would an airline allow that seat to drop even closer to your face?

It makes even less sense when you consider that many airplanes have television screens on the back of that seat. Like many middle aged men, I have “progressive lenses,” that force you to tilt your head back to see things are close. With the forward seat back and the screen only 18 inches from my face (yes, I have measured), you have to screw yourself into a wrestler’s bridge to get it into focus.

Not to mention that anyone over six feet tall tends to have their knees on the back of the forward seat, because we just don’t fit very well. Tilt that seat back and the body assumes a wrestlers arch with the knees around the face – it’s a yoga pose called, I believe, the Crippled Snake, but only a grand master could hold that pose for more than 40 seconds.

A crumpled claustrophobic is an air rage risk, and adding to the potential for disaster is the fact that the person who plummets the seat onto your knee often has loads of space. That person is often a child. Who not only drops the seat back, but plays with it like a rocking chair, oblivious to the howls of mortal pain coming from behind them, assuming, I guess, that it’s the sound of the jet engines kicking in.

I doubt the airlines will listen to my plea, so in the meantime, there is a solution to this problem if you are traveling with your team. Make sure one of your athletes is sitting in front of you. Threaten that athlete with grievous bodily harm if they tilt their seat back. A good one I have just learned is, “Tilt that seat back and I will chop you into little pieces and sprinkle you on your mother’s potatoes.”

It seems to do the trick. Just don’t utter that threat when the flight attendant is near. Handcuffs and claustrophobics are not a good match.

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]airline,airplane,travel,team,tilting seats[/tags]

Triple Jumping, Hair Braids
and the Kindness of Strangers

blog_caroline1.jpg

This is the story of a triple jumper, a hair braid, the Canadian Olympic Trials and an act of kindness by a complete stranger.

(“Oh sure, another one of those,” you’re probably saying  🙂

Caroline is a track and field athlete, with the emphasis on field. While she’s an excellent middle distance runner, she’s an even better triple jumper.

Only 16 years old, Caroline lives in Espanola, a small, northern Ontario paper-processing town of 3000 souls, about an hour outside of the city of Sudbury. She attends her home-town high school, where she plays at least four sports . Because he can’t always get her to practice at her track club in neighboring Sudbury, Caroline’s dad built her a jumping runway and pit in their back yard. It’s an investment that gets a lot of use.

Caroline, her Dad and two coaches – one from her high school and the other from her track club (they work well together) – recently attended the Canadian Senior Track and Field Championships/Olympic Trials in Windsor, Ontario. Caroline had qualified by jumping a huge personal best in the triple jump to win the Junior category at the Ontario High School championships.

Never having competed at a national championship at any level, Caroline went in hoping to merely make the final.

On the day of her preliminary rounds, she and her small entourage were walking around Windsor, and passed a barbershop. Hoping to get a braid in her hair, she poked her head in and the proprietor, Gina, a wonderful woman of Somalian heritage, offered to do the job. Which she did, for five dollars! A great deal, and a nice braid.

Later that day, Caroline jumped in the preliminary rounds. She didn’t have a super day, but neither did her competitors and Caroline met her goal by qualifying for the finals two days later.  She looked tiny out there, competing against a number of women who towered over her, many in their mid-twenties.

The next day, she once again passed the barbershop, and dropped in to say hi and ask if Gina would be working on Sunday morning for another pre-meet braiding session.

Unfortunately, Gina said that Sunday the shop was closed and she wouldn’t be in. “But why do you need a braid on a Sunday morning?” Gina asked. When Caroline’s Dad explained she was in the Olympic Trials final, Gina incredibly offered to come in, early in the morning, on her day off.

And she was as good as her word. She put a braid in Caroline’s hair early on Sunday morning.

Later that day, Caroline surprised her older competitors by jumping a huge personal best and winning the bronze medal,. Her braid jumped with her, bouncing along on top of her head like a hairy good luck charm.

While she was far from the Olympic standard, it was a tremendous performance for a high school kid. But it left her coaches, both of whom are male, with a problem for future meets – one that is seldom covered in coaching manuals.

One of them will now have to learn how to braid hair!

Dick

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]triple jumping,Olympic Trials[/tags]

North American Sports Fans Hate Soccer Flopping

soccer_injury_blog.jpg

I enjoy watching an occasional soccer match, especially during the Euro and World Cup tournaments. But I do have some North American biases about the game. No, not the typical complaint about low scoring. Hockey and baseball often involve only one or two points. And to me, pro basketball suffers because it’s too easy to score.

Nope, what really gets me is the flopping. The game encourages it. With free kicks and penalty kicks so important, the best play of the game might be the one in which a players fakes being fouled and so earns his team a free kick.  And the best way to get the offiiclals’ attention is to be as dramatic as possible. Hence the writhing on the field and clutching of limbs and grimacing..only to be immediately followed by a complete and miraculous recovery.

I’m Canadian. Our national sport is hockey. It’s a sport in which toughness and stoicicsm in the face of pain is as highly valued as skill. Stop a slapshot with your face? Just spit out some teeth and play on. A gash on the forehead? Get it stitched up and hop back on the ice. A player who carries on the way soccer players do would be booed off the ice and lose respect among fellow players.

I’m not saying I’m Mr. Toughness myself. And there is indeed flopping in our sports. But it’s usually done without dramatics because being able to  “tough it out” is a desirable quality in the North American sports consciousness.

For soccer to truly become popular in the North American mainstream, the dramatics have to go. Anyone caught overacting should be given a card…maybe a pink one.

(Remember, we publish only once every two weeks in the summer).

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]soccer,diving,flopping,physical education[/tags]