Archive for July, 2009

Congratulations to Mark Buehrle

Friday, July 24th, 2009

The International Sports Professionals Association (headquartered in Chicago) would like to congratulate Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox on his perfect game. Mark is only the 18th player in MLB history to throw a perfect game. Thank you Mark for reminding us why we are so passionate about sports. Your accomplishment inspires us all (even President Obama!).

Juiced!

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Why I Juiced-Article

For a well written expose on steriods and professional athletes check out the article in today’s Chicago Sun Times:

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/1681419,CST-SPT-parque23.article

Written by a former major league ballplayer, it details how he got involved in steriods and the thinking behind his actions.

Dr. John Mayer, President

International Sports Professionals Association

High School Football Warning

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Believe it or not but high school football practice is in full swing around the US. A new study reported in The Journal of Athletic Training that high school football players experience greater acceleration forces to their heads when they collide with other players than college players do increasing the danger of injuries such as concussions. The lead investigator of the study, Steven Broglio of the University of Illinois recommends that coaches spend more time teaching the fundamentals in techniques to players, especially keeping your head up and avoiding using the top of the helmet to collide with another player as this can increase the possibility of cervical injury. Pass this alarm onto high school coaches you work with.

Also, speaking of football, congratulations to my friend, Coach Frank Lenti of Mt. Carmel High School in Chicago who was just named by Chicago Magazine in their ‘Best of Chicago’ article as the best football coach in Chicago. Yes, best football coach, not high school football coach, football coach, period. Congratulations Frank!

Dr. John Mayer, President

The International Sports Professionals Association

College Athletes and Injuries

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

There is a great piece written in today’s New York Times, Thursday, July 16, 2009, by Kristiana Peterson on college athletes and what happens when they are injured. Ever wonder who pays for their medical care? What are the costs? What colleges do the best job at caring for their athletes? What are the horror stories? Read this thorough and insightful article. Congratulations to Kristiana on a great and needed article.

This reminds me of the great work one of our ISPA members concentrates on. Kurt David, (His book, Of Glory Days) is passionate about athletes after their playing days are over. Check out his work.

Dr. John Mayer, President

ISPA- The International Sports Professionals Association

Sportsmanship

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

I Feel Badly

While taking a run this morning on the Chicago lakefront I did something I feel badly about. As I was well into my run my mouth developed a good deal of saliva as we men are often known to do. I looked behind me to my left and then to my right to see if another runner or cyclist was approaching me from behind because clearly there was no one approaching me. I prepared that mouthful of spittle, took a deep breath and off it went out of my mouth and on its way toward helping the lakefront grass to some nutrients. But, alas, from out of nowhere a cyclist going at an estimated speed approaching Contador and Armstrong dueling down a French mountain, came next to me at the moment of launch and my well intended lawn additive landed squarely in this cyclist’s face. After a string of choice words and a bit of a wobble on his expensive road bike he didn’t break pace and sped off.

My first reaction to this unfortunate incident was, “Oooops! I feel so bad, sorry good sir.” But, as I jogged on my merry way also not breaking stride from my blistering 10.0 mph pace I thought about how many times I had seen cyclists speed by runners, walkers, groups on this same path thinking they are re-creating a stage of the TOUR and ride up upon people without warning. I have seen cyclists run right into the backside of runners, I have seen runners change lanes suddenly and bikers swerve to avoid a crash only to be thrown violently from their bike. All of this that could have been avoided had the cyclist given the proper, “On your left” to warn the foot traffic on the path that they are approaching.

I do feel bad about what happened this morning, but cyclists please, give a warning as you approach foot traffic on the paths! At the very least you’ll be protected from the possible face full of spit.

Dr. John E. Mayer, President

International Association of Sports Professionals-ISPA

To Be or Not to Be in the Hall of Fame

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Two weeks ago the Chicago chapter of the baseball writers of America (the individuals responsible for voting players into the hall of fame) met to decide if new guidelines were required to vote players into the Hall of Fame. This meeting was a reaction to the increasing number of players who have been linked to using performance enhancing drugs (PED’s). The writers decided that no changes were needed as the current standards already touch upon integrity and those who use banned substances have questionable integrity and thus could be potentially denied entrance into the Hall of Fame. Opinions vary widely on wether players who used PED’s should be allowed into the hall of fame. Many individuals who are for allowing players into the Hall who have used PED’s  have brought up the argument that throughout baseballs history players have used elicit substances that have helped them play the game. Those who are against allowing players in to the Hall believe that PED’s are illegal and against MLB rules and therefore any player caught using these substance should not be allowed into the Hall. Both camps make valid points and making a decision on the correct path is difficult.

One of the prevailing thoughts of those who favor allowing players who have used PED’s into the Hall of Fame is that MLB should embrace such substances as a reality of the game and by allowing their use the playing field will be leveled. Furthermore, throughout the history of the game players have used elicit substances and if players are not allowed in now who have used banned substances what will this say about those who are already in the Hall. The bottom line for many in this camp is that it will be impossible to determine who is clean and who is not and in the process of making this determination the whole system will become clouded and the Hall will become one big mess.

Those against allowing players who have used PED’s into the Hall fame bring up the fact that these substances are banned by baseball and players who use them are in violation of MLB rules. Certainly Pete Rose has Hall of Fame credentials but he is not allowed into the Hall of Fame because he violated the rules. Why should Pete Rose be held accountable for his actions and not those who used a banned substance? Moreover, what kind of example is MLB setting to young children who idolize baseball players by not punishing players who are using PED’s. One cannot deny that baseball players are role models and are under constant scrutiny. If PED’s were openly accepted what kind of tone would this set for our young athletes?

The players are not the only ones culpable in this controversy. Major League Baseball has turned a blind eye for too long and now must accept the responsibility of a century of neglect. The past cannot be changed and those who are in the Baseball Hall of Fame should remain. Looking into the past would only create more confusion and lead to more questions then answers. MLB should announce a stricter drug policy, with more random testing, and make it clear that those who are caught will face harsh penalties and be denied the privilege of being considered for the Hall of Fame. In a sense it would be a new era for the Baseball Hall of Fame and those that are currently in would be grandfathered in and those that earn the right to get in would be upholding the integrity that the Hall is built on.

Less Doubt on Chicago 2016 Olympics

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

I have just returned after a weekend in Seattle, WA. where I ran in their marathon. I have returned with an enthusiastic appreciation of how well Chicago can put on a world-class event and how pale other city’s efforts can be.

I don’t feel qualified to comment on the financial controversy that is surrounding Chicago’s bid to hold the 2016 Olympics and I must admit the questions raised have fueled some doubt as to the viability of such an event in Chicago. But, if there was any doubt in my mind whether Chicago can organize, plan and execute a joyful and safe international event, it was erased this past weekend.

Upon arriving in the city of Seattle I exited an expressway ramp only to be dumped in the middle of somewhat confusing road construction. I found myself stalled in traffic next to a Seattle Police squad, so I thought I would get my bearings on where I was headed. My window was open as was the officer’s. With a smile I went to ask for directions, but immediately upon eye contact with me the male policeman sneered, “What the hell do you want?” Keeping up my smile and a friendly demeanor I asked my question to which he gave a curt answer punctuated by, “…now get the hell outta here.” Welcome to Seattle.

That was just the beginning of a very weak effort by this city to showcase itself. Lack of signage maneuvering around the city to get to the required registration and expo locations made the days before the race maddening and stressful. An estimated 35,000 racers were signed up for this event and if they brought one companion each, that’s a minimum of 70,000 people, many visitors, coming into your city. The lack of a city presence in helping us navigate around with construction surrounding the necessary venues was significant. And this is all before the race day itself.

Race day was more frustration. Long lines to take shuttle buses to the race start, lack of communication, poor logistics on the roads to the event, and neglect of spectators’ needs highlighted a long list of deficits in planning and execution. And, speaking of spectators, the ‘crowds’ coming out to support and enjoy the event were sparse. I’m not talking about the many and ample groups of volunteers who did a great job throughout the course, but the citizenry of Seattle coming out for the event was negligible. Contrast this with the CROWDS often two and three people deep that throng the entire marathon course at the Chicago Marathon. Chicago supports and appreciates a world-class sporting event. Most of the spectators dotted along the course were friends and family of the racers, not from the community.

Speaking of the course. The Seattle Times extolled the ‘beauty’ that the path weaved through Seattle and nearby towns. Sure, I’m spoiled by Chicago’s architectural magnificence, but even someone who has never set foot on Chicago or New York or Boston cannot call the course we ran, ‘beautiful.’ Sure, there was a stunning stretch for a couple of miles through Seward Park where we passed a bald eagle sitting on a tree limb right above our heads something other cities cannot duplicate, but the remainder of the course weaved through some nondescript residential sections of suburbs and small towns and many, many sections of highway. Ever run for miles and miles on a slanted, ridged highway? Your knees and ankles will remember that for months. And the beautiful (sic) view of industry on either side of the highway pales in comparison to running through the Chicago neighborhoods. Google a picture of Safeco Field where the Mariners play, ugh!

I could go on and on about how Chicago puts on an event, but I think you get the picture. I felt it important to comment on how well Chicago holds such events in view of all the recent publicity the Olympic bid was receiving. I don’t know about all these financial shenanigans, but if there is a city that knows how to welcome visitors and hold a global event, Chicago is the place.

Dr. John E. Mayer
President
International Sports Professionals Association-ISPA
(Headquartered in Chicago, btw.)