• Pickleball Continues to Pick Up Rec Momentum

    by Mary Ann Ford; January 2014

    Carol Drake loves a variety of sports and regularly played racquetball until foot surgery made the pace a bit challenging. Drake tried it and was hooked.

  • County Plans to Spend $23M on Park/Rec Improvements

    by Mike Prager January 2014

    County updating five-year plan for parks Commission to voteon five-year outline By Mike Prager,(509) 459-5454 Spokane County expects to have $23 million over the next five years to pursue Conservation Futures land purchases, park improvements and recreation projects countywide.

  • Opinion: In Defense of Lotteries for Race Registration

    by Jen A. Miller; For The Inquirer January 2014

    Last week, the Chicago Marathon announced that it would be switching to a lottery system for registration. When I registered for the 2012 race, I locked myself to my computer and started trying to sign up the minute registration opened. It took a few tries, but I got in. Last year, though, enough people did the same thing that the marathon's registration system crashed. A lottery system would make choosing who gets in more fair. Sound familiar? In 2013, the Chicago Marathon had 39,122 finishers. In 2013, the Broad Street Run had 38,043 finishers. We don't have the 2013 rankings yet, but RunningUSA put Chicago as the fourth largest race in the United States. Broad Street was the seventh largest.

  • Pickleball Helping Drive Iowa Winter Games Participation

    by CRAIG D. REBER January 2014

    Pickleball, often described as playing pingpong on a huge table, bounces in for its second appearance in the 22nd annual Iowa Winter Games.

  • In Maine, Schools Turn to Co-Ops to Save Prep Hockey

    by Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff January 2014

    Maine high school hockey has grown dramatically since the 1970s, but a sluggish economy and the sport's high expense have forced several schools to form cooperative teams so their players have the opportunity to play. "In order to survive, people do things they never thought they would have to do," said Dick Durost, executive director of the Maine Principals' Association. "In some cases, co-op teams are the only ways schools can continue to offer hockey." Durost praised the MPA's ice hockey and management committees for "waiving a lot of rules pertaining to co-op teams" to allow schools to offer their student-athletes an opportunity to play hockey. The Old Town-Orono Black Bears became the 12th co-op team this season among 42 in schoolboy hockey.

  • Arena Football Losing Foothold in Chicago Market

    by By Eric Peterson January 2014

    The Chicago Slaughter indoor football team has canceled its scheduled 2014 season at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, potentially leaving the door open for a new franchise to operate there in 2015.

  • Sled Hockey Making 'All the Difference in the World'

    by Ken Gordon, THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH January 2014

    To sled-hockey players, the ice offers more than a smooth surface: It represents a level playing field. At work or school, one might be the man in the wheelchair or the awkwardly lurching girl with leg braces and a cane. On the rink, though, they all find freedom for the mind and body.

  • Blog: Event Organizers Can Do Better Than Free T-Shirts

    by Mary Helen Sprecher January 2014

    A group of us happened to be in the midst of organizing a recent racquetball tournament when the chairman looked at me and said, “Can you think of anything other than a T-shirt to give out here?”

    The more I thought about it, the more I thought about how right she was to ask. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t have way more than enough T-shirts? Specifically, is there anyone out there reading this who doesn’t have an entire boatload of T-shirts gained from participating in an athletic event?

    Like anyone else who is looking at this, I’ve played in tournaments, run in 5Ks and gone swimming for charity. I’ve ridden bicycles, given blood and probably a bajillion other things I don’t remember, all in the name of health and benefitting a non-profit. And I have a drawer full of T-shirts to prove it. Most of them I haven’t even worn yet. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the shirt; it’s just that honestly, there are only so many you can wear. Ever.

    Need proof? Every year, my church flea market receives donations of hundreds of T-shirts emblazoned with the logos of frat parties, scout camps, mud runs, sports teams, community fairs, you name it. Even neatly folded, they fill multiple cardboard boxes. We have to give them away to people who collect them for shelters and other groups. Why? Because after more than a decade of doing this, we know: nobody will buy them. Nobody. Ever.

    A few months ago, I spoke with someone who happened to be in the business of providing logo merchandise and other souvenirs for various events. He told me there has been a definite shift in the choice of souvenirs people are offering.

    “In fact,” he noted, “I can’t even remember how long it has been since someone ordered a box of ceramic coffee mugs for souvenirs.”

    These days, he said, souvenirs are small, light and easily packed (thanks in part to weight restrictions on airline baggage, for those who travel to participate in events) and there is a distinct preference for two types of souvenirs: tech items (thumb drives, smart phone holders, mouse pads, iWallets – those are cases that stick on smartphones and provide a place for credit cards and whatnot), and what he termed eco-friendly souvenirs (in this case, meaning items that could be used long after the event is over, like pens, reusable grocery bags, etc.)

    T-shirts, he noted, were the ‘evergreen’ of souvenirs since there was always someone who wanted them – but, he cautioned, “most people already have too many plain cotton ones.” Shirts in wicking fabrics, shirts cut for women and in fashion knits, shirts in a color other than white, and so forth were apt to be more desirable than the traditional 100% cotton T-shirts.
    Of course, he added, all those do cost more.

    So as we sat around, trying to decide what to give away as souvenirs for the tournament, we ran through the various other possibilities: hats, towels, socks, magnets, lanyards, sweatbands, water bottles, travel mugs, you name it.

    In the end, we went back to T-shirts because we’d put on the registration form that everyone got one. But we resolved to think more creatively next time (I refuse to say ‘think outside the shirt’) and come up with some ideas for better souvenirs for future tournaments.

    So what about you? Are you stuck in the same ‘T-shirt rut’ we are? If not, what are you offering as a souvenir for your 5Ks, tournaments and so forth? Less creative minds want to know.

    Mary Helen Sprecher is a technical writer with the American Sports Builders Association and the editor of Sports Destination Management.

  • In Kids' Fitness, a Renewed Focus on Basic Movements

    by Nancy Cambria, St. Louis Post-Dispatch December 2013 has partnered with LexisNexis to bring you this content.

    Copyright 2013 Southeastern Newspapers Corporation
    All Rights Reserved
    The Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)

    ST. LOUIS - Eric Lay, the head trainer at Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School, loves to see student athletes succeed, but he and fellow trainers aren't always impressed with fastballs or hat tricks.

    They're more concerned about whether the athletes can do a pushup without their body undulating like a worm. Can they do leg lunges without flailing their arms, wobbling or falling to one side? Are they able to touch their toes? Pull up to their chin? Can they shuttle back and forth?

    In a nutshell, trainers want to know whether these kids really know how to properly and safely move, and later, can they add strength to those established movements?

    It's all part of a growing push among trainers and others in fitness fields to get schools, parents, coaches and kids back to basics with physical fitness. Instead of focusing primarily on acquiring fitness through organized youth sports - an exploding business with many well-meaning but poorly trained coaches - they want parents and kids to refocus and acquire proper movement skills beginning as early as kindergarten and progressing all the way through high school.

    If it sounds like a throwback to gym class, it is. Those movements first emphasized in P.E. - skipping, lunging, twisting, jumping, stopping and starting, to name a few - are the building blocks of high-performing athletes and the key to enjoying all sorts of recreational activities that encourage lifelong fitness, said Larry Meadors, a former national high school strength and conditioning coach with the National Association of Strength and Fitness and the author of a paper urging "physical literacy" among youth.

    But yet, "For some ungodly reason we've skipped teaching fundamental movement," Meadors said.

    "We all learned the alphabet, and as we learned the alphabet we learned how to put two letters and then three and then four to form words, and pretty soon we had a word, a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter, a book. And you should apply the same things for athletics."

    In an age where kids have seemingly endless opportunities to play sports outside of school, all-around good movement is not always something Lay says he sees with seasoned middle and high school players. That particularly can be the case with specialized year-round, single-sport athletes. Often he'll see unbalanced movement, out of whack from years of kicking with one leg in soccer or pitching and throwing on a softball or baseball team.

    Those physical fitness deficits can lead to injuries. That's because the kids do the same thing over and over again, and coaches and organizations can have little emphasis on proper training beyond a few sometimes misguided skills drills.

    Meadors, a retired 50-year educator who runs a conditioning program in the Burns-ville, Minn., school district, said he has seen a significant decline in movement skills in kids over the past decade.

    Part of it is because of a decline in physical education in schools and a more sedentary lifestyle. Yet kids also face problems in competitive youth sports, where they learn a limited regimen of movements basic to the sport but might lack other critical movement skills to help them fully succeed.

    More than 3.5 million kids 14 and younger are treated annually for sports injuries, and the numbers are increasing. More than half of all youth sports injuries are preventable. In about half the cases, the injuries are associated with overuse, often linked with the growing trend of children specializing in one sport and playing year-round.

    In a paper published with the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Meadors said musculoskeletal injuries in youth are the result of overall low strength levels, incorrect landing mechanics, incorrect deceleration techniques, ligament loose-ness, muscle tightness, overly developed quadriceps, and over-reliance on a particular limb. These essentially are tied to poor conditioning and a lack of knowing how to move properly in a variety of fitness situations.

    Many kids simply don't know how to properly slow down and stop when running. Others can't land a jump properly, he said.

    Meadors says all he asks for is a greater conversation among schools, parents, coaches and kids to identify the big connection between proper movement skills, lifelong health and true athletic performance.

    "When we get to the point of 3.5 million kids injured in a given year - that's the fourth-leading health risk by the World Health Organization - there's something wrong about that," he said. "The media loves to hit on the sedentary side and the link to obesity in kids, and that's a real critical issue. But so is misuse of kids in sports and the mis-training of children."


    December 14, 2013
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  • Safeguarding Youth Sports Programs Against Embezzlement

    by Emily Attwood October 2013

    On a sunny Saturday morning, as parents gather along the sidelines and chatter idly while their children warm up for a morning of soccer practice, the last thing on anyone's mind or lips are questions about the financial records of the organization.