Thursday, March 5, 2015

How about a Triathlon?

If you feel compelled to compete in a Triathlon, you will probably become familiar with the ITU or International Triathlon Union founded in Vancouver in 1989.  The union is now found in Lausanne, Switzerland.  

The first recorded triathlon took place in San Diego, California in 1974, organized by the San Diego Track & Field Club.  The races consisted of a 5.3-mile run, followed by a 5-mile bike and a 600-yard swim in the bay. A total of 46 athletes finished the race. 

Today there are over140 National Federations. The ITU Triathlon World Cup Series has stages of multiple rounds across the globe. Triathlon was awarded full Olympic Games medal status by the IOC at its Congress in 1994 and the Triathlon made its Olympic debut at the 2000 Sydney Games. Switzerland’s Brigitte McMahon and Canada’s Simon Whitfield won the sport’s first gold medals.

Five of the ITU World Triathlon Series events will be Olympic distance races for the top competitors. An Olympic triathlon combines a 1.5km swim, a 40km bike ride and a 10km run. Average finishing times at world championship are around 1 hour and 50 minutes for the top male competitors and around 2 hours for the elite women.  A maximum of 65 men and 65 women enter each World Triathlon Series race--a maximum of 75 men and women competing in the Grand Final. Under23, Junior, Age-Group, Paratriathlon and Aquathlon also take place.  Amateur athletes qualify for the World Championship at the World Triathlon Series races various international locations.  Triathlon World Championship are held with the Grand Final, in which competitors cover a 750m swim, a 20km bike and a 10km run.

For more information, see the ITU site.
Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Pillars of the NFL and Maddie Takes the Ice among other books that promote sports values.  

Looking for a Team Sport: How about Tough Mudder

Tough Mudder is a "team-oriented 10-12 mile obstacle course designed to test physical strength and mental grit." Tough Mudder is a team challenge rather than a race and puts teamwork first and provides an exhilarating that is said to be unique in sports.

Tough Mudder Boot Camp offers resistance training and cardiovascular exercises to prepare for the  Tough Mudder course.
The Mudder Pledge
  • I understand that Tough Mudder is not a race but a challenge.
  • I put teamwork and camaraderie before my course time.
  • I do not whine – kids whine.
  • I help my fellow mudders complete the course.
  • I overcome all fears.
Mudder is big, there have been over a million and a half involved in over 100 events with $6.5 million raised for the wounded warrior project which assists injured veterans on their journey towards a successful civilian life..   For more information, see the Tough Mudder web site.

Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Pillars of the NFL and Maddie Takes the Ice among other books that promote sports values.  

Need a "Little" Sports Challenge; Many Look to the 2015 Reebok CrossFit Games

The Reebok CrossFit Games  were created to accurately test fitness in 2007. They are made up of a long range of movements that are designed to test fitness.  

The Games season is broken down into stages. The first stage is a five-week, five-workout competition with workouts being in gyms around the world. Anyone 14-year and older can join.  There are hundreds of thousands of contestants at the open stage. 

Top athletes from each of the 17 regions qualify for the second "regional" stage of the competition--for three weekends in May.  

Top athletes from two or three regions compete for the five qualifying spots for the CrossFit Games in the combined regions. From there, the remaining contestants compete in the Games at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. In Carson, the fittest 40 men and 40 women in the world compete for who is called the world's fittest man and woman on Earth. 

At each CrossFit Games, the game's challenges are unknown to contestants before each event.  Overall, many thousands of enthusiasts begin the competition. Interest in this CrossFit sport continues and there are 11,000 affiliates involved.  For more on the games, see the Reebok CrossFit site. 

Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Pillars of the NFL and Maddie Takes the Ice among other books that promote sports values.  

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Joe McCarthy's 10 Commandments of Baseball

Joe McCarthy is one of the most influential managers in baseball history. He spent 20 years in the minor leagues as a player and manager. While managing in the minor leagues, McCarthy created a document called the 10 Commandments of baseball. It's a simple list of principles that may seem self-evident to those who were coached  kids playing Little League. But it's a great list of rules that make sense in baseball and life.  Many coaches use the principles, but have no idea where the came from. 

McCarthy never made it to the big leagues as a player, but managed the Chicago Cubs, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox in what some would describe as the Golden Era of baseball.  McCarthy was raised in tough time and his widowed mother thought he should be apprenticed to a local plumber.  A parish priest spoke to the mother and thought he had a chance to play baseball and might even go to college.  He did and Mrs. McCarthy was happy with the results.  No offense to plumbers--it's good honest work as well. 

Joe McCarthy still holds the record for the winningest percentage of all MLB managers. There were few managers as bright as McCarthy and few player managers as good.  He managed Hall of Famers such as Hack Wilson, Rogers Hornsby, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, and Ted Williams. He deserves much credit as one the chief architects of the Yankee dynasty. He managed against most of the greats in baseball history such as John McGraw and Connie Mack.

McCarthy is a conduit to great baseball memories and the classic book called The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) by J.D. Thorne does just that.  Beside laying a brief history down of the great McCarthy's baseball life, Thorne illustrated McCarthy's baseball principles with stories of Thorne's amateur career and dozens of stories from the greatest days of baseball.  Right now you can get a copy at Amazon, but it may not be around for long as the author is about to featured on a popular sports radio program and the supply is limited. I once had a reader tell me that J.D.'s book is a perfect book for a long airplane ride---it offers greater entertainment.  We include many vintage photographs from the National Baseball Hall of Fame (it is sold there as well).

The photo above depicts depicts Babe Ruth with another legendary manager, John McGraw, (both are discussed).  Ruth was winding down his career as McCarthy was making a name for himself.  Photo from Bain Collection, Library of Congress.

Monday, February 23, 2015

NFL History for Lawyers: Pillars of the NFL

After I had worked for a company that provided information for lawyers and other professionals, I saw an opportunity to publish a sports book that would appeal to professional people.  Patrick McCaskley agreed with me and he followed a book model that would satisfy people who were looking for a good solid history of the ten coaches we covered in Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Won Three or More Championships.  We were trying to capture the football essence of these great men and presented their early football lives, their coaching careers, their contribution to the game and their football timelines.  It was a very difficult project.  For some coaches, there was more than enough books and other sources, but for others it was a struggle.  We stocked the book with end notes to show our sources and for enthusiasts who might want to continue their search for even more information.  I think for the real NFL enthusiasts, we have published a real legacy they can own.    

So if you want to know the story behind Halas, Chamberlin, Lambeau, Brown, Lombardi, Noll, Ewbank, Gibbs, Walsh, and Belichick--you can pick up Pillars of the NFL.  

Copyright 2015, Sporting Chance Press
Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships a book that examines the football lives of the top ten NFL coaches and much of the history of the NFL. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Jim Thorpe Remembered

The sons of Jim Thorpe have advanced a court fight the last few years to exhume Thorpe's body from a town in Pennsylvania and bring it back for burial on American Indian land in Oklahoma.  One ruling sided with the sons, but has been reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeals.  The original ruling had applied the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, a law that requires museums and federal agencies possessing American Indian remains to return them when requested by a deceased's family or tribe.  The appeal said that the Judge had misapplied the act. 

Thorpe died at his trailer home in Lomita, California at 64 years old.  Thorpe's third wife did not bury him in Oklahoma after the governor there would not pay for a monument to the athlete.  Two Pennsylvania towns agreed to merge, Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk, and built a memorial and named the new town Jim Thorpe. He has been buried in a beautiful roadside mausoleum there since his death in 1953.  Thorpe's grandsons are on record as agreeing that the town has done right with the body and have sided with the Poconos town.  While the Thorpe's disagree on the burial site, this dispute does not seem money related as other high profile burial disputes can often be.

Many consider Thorpe to be the best athlete of the 20th Century.  Thorpe was a football, baseball, and track star who won the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Olympics.

 At the Olympic Games of 1912 in  Stockholm King Gustaf V of Sweden called Thorpe the greatest athlete in the world and no one disagreed. A short time later, the  Amateur Athletic Union accused him of receiving pay for playing summer baseball and sent back the gifts and medals.  It was common for young athletes particularly college students to play a little ball on the side to help with expenses.  Evidence from 1912 showed that Thorpe's disqualification had occurred after the 30-day time period allowed by Olympics rules, in October 1982, the IOC Executive Committee approved Thorpe's reinstatement.

From 1913-1919, Thorpe played major league baseball  He played mostly for the New York Giants.  He played outfield and had a lifetime batting average of .252.  The next decade, he went on to play professional football and moved around from team to team.  He started playing in Canton for the Bulldogs when it was still a semi pro team and was a player/coach. The Bulldogs were owned by Ralph E. Hay who owned a dealership in town that sold Jordan Hupmobiles and Pierce-Arrows.  Hay would be remembered for his work with George Halas and others to establish the NFL itself. 

Thorpe built his team around three leading offensive players in the backfield from the Carlisle Indian School: Joe Guyan, Pete Calac, and Thorpe himself.  In 1920, the Canton Bulldogs and several other teams started professional football. Next year, Thorpe played for the Cleveland Indians and then he moved on to a famous Indian professional football team, the Oorang Indians.  Jim Thorpe’s Oorang Indians team of Larue, Ohio, had a competent group of players, but owner Walter Lingo had many interests.  Lingo’s Oorang Kennels was the largest mail order dog breeding business in the country specializing in Airedales. Lingo had a love for his dogs as well as American Indian lore, and he concocted a show that he put on at games to promote his interests.  It is said that the show was so elaborate that the players felt like the game itself was of secondary importance.  Thorpe continued to move around and finished out his NFL career in 1928. 

Thorpe was married three time and had eight children.  He is remembered with great affection by his fans, including many who witnessed his athletic feats in film. 

Copyright 2015, Sporting Chance Press
Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships a book that examines the football lives of the top ten NFL coaches and much of the history of the NFL. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sports Can be Used to Teach Kids Good Lessons

We've had a bit of come down recently over the Little League ruling against a team that been placed in high esteem by media and the man/woman on the street.  So regardless of how people look at that situation, it might be a good time to reinforce the fact that sports offers many lessons that can be applied to life. Sports as a metaphor for life hit me squarely between the eyes when I started working on our first book, The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) by J.D. Thorne.

It seems to me that almost everything that's important for us to pass down to our kids cannot be accomplished strictly by lectures or what I would call a frontal assault on kids brains. From our ideas on character to our desire to see our kids learn the benefits of hard work, from our faith to our valuing a good sense of humor, most everything we deem important cannot be passed on to another generation by simply touting it.

You hear a lot about learning through the use of games today in school--like this is something new because much of it will be done on computers. Good teachers have known from the earliest days of education that you have to work some fun, some culture, some real life experiences into those lesson plans. In the new testament, Jesus told parables to get His lessons across. The Old Testament is full of songs, stories and poetry for the same reason. Even the most profound and valid ideas the world has known need interesting stories or experiences to get them across.

Rather than conflict with studies and other pursuits, we believe sports can help motivate kids and be used to teach principles that will be helpful in all walks of life. Sports lessons can be life lessons. But it's going to take some effort. From the PE instructor to the coach, there is a lot of work that needs to be done to connect the dots for kids. For example, if kids are not taught the connection between teamwork on the field and teamwork off the field, they may miss it altogether. If players are taught to look out for their teammate in the game, but someone is not there to enforce the same principle to help kids look out for others who are being bullied, a great opportunity is missed. If an student learns not to deride a fellow player who makes a mistake, that same student ought to be told that the same principle holds true in the classroom.

At Sporting Chance Press we are doing our bit to help connect these lessons through our books, but a coach, a teacher, an aide, and a parent can make a greater contribution. Competition is a key ingredient in sports and it is one of those things that will be with us until the end of time in life as well. Most people in sports and physical education believe that without competition, sports lose much of their attraction and power with kids. But schools need to build in other goals for their sports and PE programs--and be serious about those goals. And kids and coaches need higher priorities than competition.

A ten minute pep talk on fighting bullying is going to help...a little. But the values we want our kids to embrace need to be emphasized and acknowledged by those who run the programs repeatedly, just like drills that are used for skill building. But the one thing we all should never forget is that in sports, lessons can be fun and engaging.

In soccer for example, there are drills that show how three players who are working as a team can pass the ball back and forth to frustrate a two-man defense. A coach might simply ask the kids at the end of a practice if they can see how this kind of teamwork may help in other areas of life to get kids thinking about the power of helping each other out. It can be that simple, but repetition is key. Values must be built into all programs and never let go.

Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of J.D. Thorne's The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life).  This book  is an mix of professional baseball principles that are illustrated by the baseball experiences of athletes. Whether male or female, young or old, the reader is pulled into great baseball moments that make the baseball commandments come to life with compassion and humor. The focal point of the book is the classic, but little-known, 10 Commandments of Baseball, the baseball principles created by Major League baseball's most successful manager.