Category: 2013
Published: Monday, 09 September 2013
Please and thank you make you feel good. Others around you can sense the message you are sending about being grateful and humble.




It’s not my job to determine when the light is going to go on.  It’s my job to keep flipping the switch.




To say that something is inherently flawed and, thus cannot be corrected, means we are simply followers and not rational beings capable of change and growth.




Can you be happy for someone if they get a Mercedes and you spent the same time and money and ended up with a Yugo?  Can you be satisfied?




I’ve never walked up to a coach or another person and said I wanted to be like them.  I’ve always looked to a philosophy and worked to be true to it.




Do you think a child has ever envisioned a game or player he was dreaming about and the dream involved him sitting on the bench?




Most team sport’s games are lost by one team not won by the other.




You play the players who are playing the best not the best players.




You don’t have starters.  You have players that start.




Playing time is fluid.




More is not necessarily better.




Sometimes you have to do the right thing just because it’s the right thing to do regardless of the consequences.




If it was just about money, then only Bill Gates and Warren Buffett would win.




If it’s a must-win game and you don’t win, then what?




Peace of mind is victory.




Short-term always costs more long-term.




If you have to play one sport year round to compete, how do athletes who play more than one sport compete?  How do injured players out for a year come back and compete?




If you have to pay for play, how do the poor people make it to Division I?




I was watching little kids running around at the park laughing, playing and having fun with a ball.  When did that stop being a great idea?




If there had been a meeting when it was decided that pay-for-play sports with year-round participation became the norm instead of the exception, I would have raised my hand and said, “Hey, I don’t think that is such a good idea.”




Think of youth sports as the equivalent to playing a piano. Different songs require different notes.  All musicians are not going to be comfortable with playing all the notes the same way. If a note on the piano is not in tune, the musician must adapt and use other keys. He or she never forgets the weak note and goes back to it and nurtures it to its former level.




It could be like an extension ladder. It has support on both sides for strength. The support takes the form of teammates, coaches, and family.  The ladder also has an extension to it so that the base from which you climb up can be adjusted to a new level. Finally, as you get nearer the top, you need more support from the base not less.




You do a lot more of getting along at work than you do competing with other employees.



If winning is so important, name the 2010 NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, NFL Playoff Champions.( No cheating)

Mike Arace from the Columbus Dispatch on Youth Sports and Frozen Shorts

Category: 2013
Published: Monday, 02 September 2013
There are approximately 45 million children between the ages of 5 and 18 playing youth sports in America. Around 3 percent of them will play in college. A smaller percentage will make it to the professional ranks.
To all of them, we should say: Expand your horizons.
Focusing on just one sport is about the worst thing a young athlete can do. It mitigates the developmental benefits that come from playing, it is physically dangerous and, for the vast majority, it is actually a hindrance to their primary athletic pursuit.
• A summary of studies that appeared in the January 2012 edition ofPsychology Today asserts that intensity, continuity and balance are the most important developmental aspects of youth-sports participation. The article, written by Marilyn Price-Mitchell goes on to say that balance — between sports and other activities — is probably the most important of the three. Children who vary their experiences rather than focus on one sport make for healthier adults because their world is wider than winning and losing.
• A Dispatch series on youth sports (printed in 2010 and still available at Dispatch.com) highlighted many concerns about a burgeoning, unregulated youth-sports industry. Among the biggest concerns is the rising number of injuries. The sports-medicine clinics run by Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Ohio State have seen an exponential increase in patients over the past decade. These local trends align with national trends.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the number of children treated for sports injuries in 2010 was 3.5 million, up from 1.9 million in 2002. Nearly half the injuries are “ overuse” injuries to children who place stress on the same muscles and tendons in year-round, single-sport pursuits. A 2011 study out of Loyola University-Chicago concluded that single-sport athletes are almost twice as likely to be injured as multisport athletes.
Those who have concentrated on reducing sports injuries in children — such as Dr. James Andrews, the famed Tommy John surgeon — are unanimous in their belief that playing more than one sport actually serves as a preventative measure. It is to an athlete’s benefit to work different muscle groups and joints, learn different skill sets, change scenery and teammates, and be afforded proper rest.
As more data concerning the potential psychological, developmental and physical dangers of single-sports specialists have accrued, a certain movement has begun to coalesce. It is being led by people like VJ Stanley, a former longtime college hockey coach, youth coach of multiple sports, stand-up comic and Zen philosopher, among other things.
“If winning is so important at an early age,” Stanley said, “why don’t elementary teachers with master’s degrees in education teach winning to the little kids?”
Stanley is founder and president of a foundation called Frozen Shorts, which is based in Rochester, N.Y. His mission is to shift the American youth-sports paradigm, as the title of his new book suggests: Stop the Tsunami in Youth Sports: Achieving Balanced Excellence and Health while Embracing the Value of Play for Fun.
Stanley’s view — and that of others, such as Douglas Abrams, a University of Missouri law professor, part-time hockey clinician and an early crusader for change in youth sports — is that we have created a system that is geared toward specialization, and that this system is a long-term disservice to our children. On some level, the kids know it.
The peak of participation is age 10. By 13, some 70 percent of kids quit. Why? A raft of recent studies indicate that the fun is sucked out of it by overzealous parents and undertrained coaches who place far too much emphasis on winning. Specialization breeds such an environment. When costs rise and time commitment increases, joy dissipates in proportion — for the kids, if not the parents. (Some researchers, by the way, are beginning to link quitting sports to the child-obesity epidemic.)
“Children are better at their chosen sport when they do not play it all the time, and we can quantify that,” Stanley said. “We have to remember, these are not mini-professionals — these are children. Their creativity is to be found in a spectrum of experiences. When we push them to specialize, they lose their balance, and they have a skewed view of everything.”
We push them, or allow them, to play basketball, soccer or volleyball 11 months a year, and we tell them how great they are. We should be telling them the odds are they’ll never even play at the Division III college level, so try everything — and have a good time.
On some level, the kids know it. As Stanley points out, in the U.S., the fastest-rising sport in terms of popularity is Wiffle Ball, and kickball is No. 2. Are they the only sandlot games left?
Michael Arace is a sports reporter for The Dispatch.
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Kids, Competition, and Citi Field

Category: 2013
Published: Monday, 26 August 2013
Kids, Competition, and Citi Field


I keep hearing over and over again how we need to teach kids to be competitive. Baloney. I also keep hearing that it is O.K. to have kids play at a “house” recreation level when they are young and have the more talented ones play with and against better talent in an “elite” setting, because that is a more and better competitive environment for them. Hogwash.


Let’s break this down scientifically. First the male and female bodies do not fully develop until the children are in their early to mid twenties. Also, only about 10% of the kids who are the “best” at age 10, and I use that term very loosely, are the best at age 18. (Having a genetic predisposition of more co ordination or size at an early age, and having that be the judging criteria for athletic ability is very flawed) But I digress.


A player on your team may be one of the top two or three players TODAY, but by giving that player more reps and more chances so you can: WIN” a meaningless game just sets that child up to believe that he or she has more talent, deserves more playing time, and that talent, when put into an elite setting has tangible financial value. WRONG.


 It is just another form of entitlement. Simply put, it is a head start in a race that does not exist. Would you give a person a head start over other children in a foot race just because they are bigger and faster? Actually, when we handicap a race, we do just the opposite, don’t we?


If I have my modified basketball team line up on the end line of a basketball court and put 2 sheet pizzas at the opposite foul line. Am I to believe that we need to give the kids instructions on how to be competitive for the pizza? Just blow the whistle and let them go!


Now sure, I suspect that when you do this with boys, one of the boys may not get any pizza. At least one boy will look at this boy with disdain, not knowing that this boy, by not getting a piece of pizza, is using that mistake of not being competitive costing him a consequence, (not failure) as motivation to be more competitive.  When the girls do this, I am also confident that at least one girl will make sure that the girl get who was left out will get at least one slice.


 Did you watch the Home Run Derby at the MLB all star game? Did you see the kids in the outfield chasing the batted balls by the all-stars?  Did you see how competitive it was? While everyone was watching the home runs, I was watching the kids! Where there any coaches coaching the kids out on the field? It looked pretty competitive to me!


In either test case no coaching was needed to get the competitive juices flowing. What coaching WAS needed was making sure the kids understood the importance of sharing. What has to be coached is the FACT that a kid who is more talented may level off and a kid who shows little talent, can and may get exponentially better so that a 1, 2, or 3 can become a 12, 13, or 14, while those same children can switch levels in a single practice or game, given the right amount of chances and playing time.

Children are not micro adults or mini professional athletes. They are not remote controlled robots attached to adult’s personal joy sticks. 70% are quitting youth sports by the time they are 13. If you had a business that was losing 70% of your customers you would change your business practices in a hurry, or go out of business!

8 Concussions Later

Category: 2013
Published: Monday, 19 August 2013
8 Concussions Later


With all the talk, and rightly so, about concussions in youth sports I thought I would relate my experience to you. At the ripe old age of 12 I got my first concussion.   I got blindsided on a hit at a hockey school in Canada.


The next one happened when I was a freshman in high school. A great big defenseman nailed me at the top of the faceoff circle and rode on top of me into the end boards smacking my neck, back, and head into the wall.


While returning an interception in my sophomore year at high school playing football I was blindsided by an offensive lineman near the sidelines, knocked me clear out of bounds.


The fourth one happened in a men’s league game after high school. I was picked to play against a semi pro team with a bunch of older guys from this league. I scored a goal against the other team and as I raised my arms to celebrate I got clocked, head first into the end boards.


The fifth one happened in a softball tournament. I was coming home to score a run while watching the play behind me and the catcher raised his elbow and blindsided me.


Number six was a doosy.  I was skating in on goal with a breakaway when a guy came from behind and took his stick and hooked me in the face cutting me in two places. I fell to the ice and smacked the back of my head on the ice


The last two happened within a week of each other while I was at college. The first on came as I received a buddy pass and the defenseman, who was trying to make the team, hit me so hard I was out cold. The last one happened when I was at the boards on the blue line. A player came from behind and hit me head first into the boards. He hit me so hard it cracked my helmet


After this last one I was called into the coaches’ office before the next practice and sent to the hospital. I had arrived at college with 20/10 vision. When I got tested at the time of last two concussions, I had 200/300. I did not sleep for five days in a row, the headaches were so bad.


When I was discharged I was unable to drive for six months. It took that long for my balance and vision to return to normal. To this day, if I read a book for more than an hour the words will separate and I get double vision and wicked headaches. Pretty ironic for an author,huh?


The next story I want to relate to you happened three Christmas’s ago, over 25 years after my last concussion.  My wonderful wife bought blueberry candy canes to decorate the Christmas tree. When I arrived home from a speaking engagement I was immediately struck by the smell of the candy canes. Then it happened. The headache came on almost instantaneously. My vision started to blur and my words got slurry as I tried to explain to my wife what was happening. Then I pretty much lost my ability to see and to speak. (The latter one probably would make some people happy.)


My wife guided me upstairs to the guest room. She closed the blinds, put a hand towel over eyes, and opened a window just a crack, and went downstairs. She proceeded to throw out the candy canes and turned the heat up to get the smell out of the house. Four hours later I returned to normal, well, for me anyway.


As I am getting older the symptoms seem to be coming on more frequent. I will get headaches easily, sometimes I forget what I’m saying in the middle of a sentence, and other times I will lose concentration and just drift off. My ability to speak will be inhibited, and I will get dizzy.


Maybe that explains why I am like this? Did you really think (or care) that I got like this normally? Don’t feel sorry for me please. I have led a great life. I have done so many things and am so fortunate to have the friends and family around me. I will keep you up to date on my journey.


Oh, there is one good thing about all these concussion. My wife is 10 years younger than me and very pretty. (I know, go figure) But as my memory slips and fades maybe I will start to think that I have met a really cute girl, on a continuous basis! What a lucky guy!


And yes, I know some people may be offended by me making jokes, but it is how I cope. Besides, there is nothing I can do about the concussions for myself, but I can and do educate as many people as possible about this very serious health issue.

Ya get lemons, make lemonade.

Winning: Teaching Quantum Physics to Children

Category: 2013
Published: Tuesday, 13 August 2013
Winning and Teaching Quantum Physics To Children


In my talks and interviews around the country and parts of Canada I am occasionally confronted with the idea that winning is everything. More succinctly, I am presented with the hypothesis, or in some cases, the misconceived notion, that children of all ages must be taught the importance of winning while they play youth sports, because that is a life lesson. To follow that logic, or lack thereof, we must forget for a minute that 85% of all people who lose their jobs, except for massive layoffs, lose them because they don’t get along with other employees.


Winning is such an abstract concept, that even professional teams, who say they only care about winning, and spend millions of dollars each year to try and win, still can’t win a championship, and  can’t explain to anyone how to guarantee a win.


 But I am supposed to believe that part time youth and High School coaches with little or no professional training can teach children this abstract concept to kids? (Really, this is like bringing down a Harvard Professor who teaches Quantum Physics and has received the “Skytte Prize” to a Middle School and having her try to teach these kids Quantum Physics.)


Do you really think that John Calipari, after coaching Kentucky to an National Championship  in college basketball, forgot how to win the next year when his team did not even qualify for  March Madness, and the NCAA Division I National Championship Tournament?


Teachers in Elementary, Middle and High Schools, do not teach children that they have to win. They teach them the importance of the journey, and learning for the joy of learning. (Now this successful formula is being eschewed for the notion that teaching to the test is more important than being educated for life, but as usual, I digress)


Teachers understand how important it is for children to work and play together. They have the children work in groups and do projects together, because they know through experience and Master’s Degrees in Education, that this is the best way to teach children, and have the knowledge stay with kids after school is done. They know how important community is in children’s lives, now and in the future.


So why don’t we coach these kids the same way they are taught everyday in school? Ever seen a teacher yell at a kid during a test?


Winning and losing will prepare them for life these coaches say. People tell me that I am “Mamby Pamby” about winning and that Frozen Shorts espouses the theory that equal play for all is another form of entitlement. (Even though we say equal play for prepuberty children and play by performance for the older ones)


 Equal play allows “lazy” coaches to get away without coaching all the fundamentals needed to teach children life lessons and the importance of winning I am told. Nonsense. It’s a kid’s game and some adults want to make their participation in youth sports, more important, and more profitable to them at the children’s expense. It is one of the major reasons they quit playing


Well, let’s back the bus up here for just a minute and see what is going on here.  So, how is it that the paradigm of winning as being the almighty answer can and is sometimes built on a false foundation? How many of you have played in a game and lost when you played well? How many have you played in a game, played poorly, and still won? So, in these games winning and losing actually were not a clear indication of how well you played. The outcome of these games either gave you a win you didn’t earn or a loss you that may have hid how well you really played. How do you build and develop children with a false base? Now that is confusing to me. Imagine how confusing and frustrating it is to the children?


 They just want to play and have FUN!


The idea of life lessons that employ the journey, not the goal, as being of paramount importance, and the #1 priority in youth and High School sports, has been lost on this generation of parents, coaches, and athletes for the most part. Scholarships, ego, status and angst have enveloped this new youth sports paradigm. As I like to ask in my talks: “How is your way working out for you?”


What is the outcome? Injuries are skyrocketing, violence has increased dramatically, and children are quitting playing youth and high school sports in record numbers. That is not a successful business model, is it?


The problem has become a national health issue. Type II diabetes is on the rise and obesity has quadrupled in the last 30 years.


Os sure, people can preach the mantra of winning, but really, what are those people really winning? Is this the base that we want to emulate the paradigm for our children’s future? I hope not.

 I’d really hate to have to try and teach Quantum Physics!

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