Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

Great Steroid Article

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Very well written article on steroids in the Ny Times today. Be sure to check it out! With Series Fever, Steroids issue fades to the Past Do you think it is a good thing that steroids are taking a back seat to the World Series? Is it okay that players such as Alex Rodriguez are forgiven so quickly?

Marathon-Hay is in the Barn

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Justin Mayer, Executive Director of ISPA, always would caution me in the days before a race when I was fretting whether I did enough training or not, “The hay is in the barn, not much you can do about it now!” This is a great tip the night before a Marathon.

I always remembered that advice in every race. Which brings me to the night before a race and sleep. This is some advice you are not going to hear from many professionals and I’m going to be radical here. DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT. Like all race preparation, ‘The Hay is in the Barn. If you are tossing and turning tonight. Don’t let that worry you on race day. It is what it is! The most important consideration with regard to sleep is your rest the week before and two nights before the race as well as your rest in recovery the night after your big race. If you are in the starting corral and are worrying about how much sleep you got last night you are not going to be mentally ready to run. Relax, the Hay is in the Barn!

Relax, have fun, enjoy the experience!

Dr. John E. Mayer, President-ISPA

Let them Run! Marathons for All

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

The New York Times has been running a series of articles on marathon running in build up to the NYC Marathon this weekend. One article about slow marathon runners caught my eye. The article debated what place individuals who run slowly have in the marathon. The article cited studies showing how since the 1980s the average marathon time has drastically increased. To find out more about the article click here: Plodders Have a Place, but Is It in a Marathon? One of the reasons why this article interested me is I have been at both ends of the spectrum. I have run marathons both fast and slow. I have clocked in at Three hours and ten minutes and I have also clocked in at six plus hours (I forgot that you had to train for a marathon!). I can personally say that whether I run a marathon fast or slow it is still hard.

Covering 26.2 miles whether you are running or walking is still a great accomplishment! Everyone feels pain, no matter what the speed, at some point during the marathon. However, I still feel that there should be some time limits. Having no limits creates situations in which people feel they can stop for extended periods of time and in some cases stop for lunch or other such extended breaks. Clearly, stopping for lunch is not the spirit of the marathon. The marathon is not a stage race. There is nothing wrong with the occasional pit stop as long as they don’t turn into mini vacations. Always keep moving that is my motto!

Individuals who attack “slow” runners are doing more to damage the sport than to promote it. Marathons maintain sponsorships because of the mass appeal created by the diverse level of participants. Sponsorship is what allows these races to exist and thrive. Many races have now adapted corral systems that allow the faster runners to be upfront and not “hindered” by the slower runners who interfere with time goals. This eliminates the complaint that slower runners get in the way. Of course one reason why some so-called hardcore runners disapprove of slow runners is they feel that the image of the marathon is tarnished because Joe Public now runs marathons. The ego of these individuals has been deflated; no longer is the marathon T-shirt the ego trip it once was. Of course these individuals could run the Boston Marathon (a race with a qualifying standard) or even better yet they could run in the Olympic trials!

The culture of the marathon has changed. No longer is it composed of a small group of gifted athletes strutting their stuff. It is a mainstream event that has broad appeal. The marathon is an event that raises millions of dollars for charity and inspires people to get off the couch and go outside and run. In an era of increasing waistlines and an epidemic of obesity how can this be a bad thing. In the process a few egos may get damaged but as Bob Dylan stated “Your old road is Rapidly aging Please get out of the new one If you can’t lend your hand For the times they are a-changin” (The TImes They Are A-Changin’, 1964)

Justin Mayer, Executive Director-ISPA

Marathon Fever Good for Body? NYT article

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

ISPA Friends:

I was excited to share an article  just read in my favorite daily, the New York Times. (Tuesday 10-27-09-Health Section) As is often the case with the NYT, the article was illuminating. How many of us runners have wondered, researched and debated whether the pounding is good for the body. This article sheds some interesting insight into this long standing debate. I won’t try and do t justice by paraphrasing what is in the article, so go to their web site and check this article out.

What I found interesting was how evolutionary biologists are claiming that man is in fact a natural long distance runner and that it is only recently that running has been associated with pain and injury. The article also brings up the concept of early man being what they call a ‘persistence hunter’ that our ancestors chased down prey until the animal was exhausted and they were easier to harvest for food. I never heard of this concept before. If you are a runner, this article is a must read.

Here’s the link to the NYT Article:

Dr. John Mayer, President-ISPA

Kids Triathlons

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

In article appeared in last Thursday’s New York Times on Kids Triathlons. I was glad to see some publicity about this great sport, however, was a little disappointed that the article focused primarily on the dangers of the sport and not more on the positives. As a former youth Triathlete I can attest to the benefits of Kids Triathlons. Triathlon taught me a lot about working towards goals and the pure joy of competition. Furthermore, it gave me a diverse athletic background that prevented overuse injuries that plague so many young athletes who specialize in one sport. Yes, Triathlon like many youth sports has dangers, however, when a child is guided correctly there is no reason for concern. When children are young they should only be worried about having fun and should be involved with a variety of athletic events. Triathlon is a great way for children to stay active and learn about themselves and their bodies.

“Suck it up” Bad & Dangerous Advice

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

“Suck it Up” is Bad and Dangerous

The traditional coaching axiom after what seems to be a minor injury is not only stupid, it is now being seen by experts as dangerous. We are heading into what some experts consider the ‘head trauma season’ in sports. Coaches, trainers, parents, it is wise to be prepared.

If a player receives an injury, even a minor one, what many coaches call a “dinger” or when the player sees stars or is briefly disorientated, they need to sit. These are mild concussions and not sitting can be dangerous. Last year the New York Times did a series of 15 articles on the results of repeated concussions in players from youth through pros. They found that the long term consequences of repeat concussions were: persistent headaches, fatigue, difficulty paying attention (ADD-like symptoms), memory problems, mood swings and personality changes. In a few cases even death resulted.

Don’t take even ‘minor’ hits lightly. “When in doubt, sit them out.” That is the strong advice of Dr. Robert C. Cantu, one of the leading experts on concussions. (As quoted in the New York Times Aug. 25, 2009) Dr. Cantu is a co-author of the National Athletic Trainers Association position paper on sports-related concussions.

These ‘dings’ to the head do not only come from sports. Parents know that young children bang their heads frequently as they learn how to navigate their world. Take the same advice, make them rest and not exert themselves after a hit to the head, even minor.

Dr. John E. Mayer, President-ISPA

The 2003 MLB Steroid List

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

The now infamous 2003 steroid list is doing more harm then good by being kept under “lock and key”. It is embarrassing how names keep leaking from this list one by one. The list is simply providing tabloid fodder and is doing nothing to advance the cause of eradicating performance enhancing drugs from baseball. The list should either be released or destroyed. It is time to move on and start building a stronger foundation that will prevent steroid use and educate athletes not to use substances that are both detrimental to their health and promote dangerous behaviors to young people.

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

Kids Don’t Know How to Play

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Young People Don’t Know How to Play!

Dr. John Mayer


Socrates said, “Play is the work of the child.” One of the dilemmas of today’s young people is that they often don’t know how to play. Yes, that’s right, kids don’t know how to play! And this condition is getting worse as kids are buried into technological devices as their definition of play. So, when they are among other kids, they behave awkward, fumble around and it becomes not fun. So, we witness a revolving door as they retreat back into their technological abyss.

Professionals who work in the field of sports know that today’s youth do not get enough physical activity and physical interaction with other young people. The sad condition that our schools are eliminating PE and Health classes certainly doesn’t help this problem.

A recent article in the New York Times Magazine by Peggy Orenstein titled, Kindergarten Cram. (NYT, May 3, 2009) reminded me of an article I wrote approximately four years ago on youth and play. That article of mine had a similar title to the one I am presenting here. In that article, as I am reporting here, kids just don’t know how to play. Orenstein would attribute this to the fact that they simply don’t get the chance to play like they used to. Her NYT article of May 3rd points out that Kindergarteners spend an average of 19 minutes per day in free play in comparison to 89 minutes learning literacy, 47 minutes in math, and 21 minutes in test preparation skills. Orenstein further points out that all this concern over cramming knowledge into the heads of young people in place of play is actually in vain because most experts and studies show that any advantage gained by this over-emphasis on learning is lost by middle school. She also points out that by not encouraging play valuable social and emotional skills are lost so much so that by age 15 academic achievement plummets and youth are more likely to exhibit emotional problems. She cites that authorities such as Daniel Pink have proposed that the viability of the United States in the global economy rests on the accentuation of qualities such as versatility, imagination, creativity, vision and playfulness.

But, I am probably preaching to the choir here. As fellow professionals serving sports, we all agree that kids need more activity and need to be engaged through sports participation in moving their bodies. So, let’s take a look at how this impacts us as sports professionals and think about ways to change this negative equation.

What implication does this have for us?

The areas we most see the effects of this play deficit are:

Team participation– youth have a harder time being a team player

Motivation– it is harder than ever to motivate young people

Competition– young people do not know how to handle competition

Sportsmanship– young people lack the social skills of being sportsmanlike when participating

Coachability– so much of this results in young athletes that are harder and harder to coach

Quitting– for the young person, all this translates into a youth who will not stay with athletics or become easily distracted by other diversions in life and not stay with their sport

How This Can Change:

Leadership- Adults, and certainly all of us, need to demonstrate strong leadership. Let’s get young people active and out into the playing fields, the courts and gyms…..and let’s not accept NO for an answer. Physical activity should be a part of every family’s lifestyle. But, we adults must make it such.

There is nothing wrong with insisting that young people get away from the electronics and be active with other family members. They may grunt and groan at first, but a strong leader can make the unpopular decision for the good of the family. This is true leadership.

Modeling- Not complicated to explain, we adults need to be more physically active and lead our youth into a new lifestyle. Show them the joy of moving around and playing.

Teaching– When you see negative behaviors during play, call it out to the young person and show them a better way immediately. Everyone, coaches, mom’s and dad’s, professionals helping teams/schools, should call out poor social skills when you see it and use it as a learning moment. Encourage moms and dad’s to stay and watch practices, not jut drop kids off and speed away. Then parents can given feedback to young people after the practice or game. But, don’t be the negative, mean-spirited, “Vince Lombardi” coach or parent. That type of adult style just doesn’t work with today’s youth. In fact, it will turn them off to sports and physical activity altogether. They will retreat back into the hibernation of electronics land.

Lobbying- Let’s get more physical activity back into our schools.

Research- Let’s build a strong case to prove the value of play and sports. Peggy Orenstein’s article mentioned an organization called the Alliance for Childhood. Use ISPA, with our publishing division and CEU program to educate on the value of play and sports. Send us your research and ideas for publication, from newsletter articles to CEU courses to books.

So, I end by going back to Socrates. He would say that young people are not doing their jobs. (Playing) Now, let’s do our job and get young people more active.