Monday, April 9, 2007

Your Comments, Welcome

The University of Southern California is one of the great educational institutions in the nation. While there are many reasons for this, I feel that one of the most important is that they allow their students to have a voice. They allow the student to give feedback about their experiences here and the University takes this feedback to heart. One way by doing this is through the USC College Dean’s Prize for the Enrichment of Student Academic Life. This is a program that allows students to offer ways that could help enrich future student’s academic careers as well as offer ways to help the University. It can be something as small as a public speaker of something like adding a new major to our course catalog. Whatever you choose to write about they will listen and for the person with the best proposal, they are offered a scholarship. With my career at this University finally beginning to wind down, I feel that there are some suggestions that I would like to make.

Throughout my college career here at USC, and like many of the other students here, have had many good experiences, but with those good experiences, have also had many struggles. I learned the hard way about how tough college is. In my previous years of schooling, and up to coming to this university, I never had any struggles with school. It was a natural thing. I never had to study for tests, I just got good grades because I always went to class and there was never any extra reading to do. This leads me to my first proposal which is to offer a study skills class that one must take when entering the University. While there are many things that I have learned from this University, as well as other schools, the one thing I was never taught was how to study. I was never even introduced to ways that one could study. I feel that this hurt me and I believe that not knowing how to study has hurt many other people before me, and even those that I attend class with now. I feel that this type of class is one that could help everybody. I had to learn by trial and error and sometimes when you are finally introduced to a way that may work for you, it could be too late. This type of class will give you an introduction to the tough course load that you are about to be introduced with and soften the blow for the huge jump you take in your academic career whether you are coming from high school or junior college.

My second proposal is for a type of scholarship. Many of the people that I have taken class with are very fortunate in the fact that all they have to do is go to school and that’s it. They don’t have to have a job if they don’t want to, but what about those that need to work there way through school. I am a full time college student. I go to school five days a week, and I come home and study just like everybody else does. What many don’t know about me is that I also have to work forty plus hours a week to pay for school with minimal amounts of loans, and rent and transportation and this list can go on. I know there are a lot out there that have to do this and I feel that they should be rewarded some way because I believe that they have to work twice as hard as the person that is just the student. It takes a very dedicated type of person to do this and offering a type of scholarship for this type of person would be a wonderful thing. When I get off of school I go to work. I don’t get to go home and have a study group. When I get off of work at eleven at night I then can start my studying. I run off of caffeine and very little sleep. While doing this I still find myself coming up short on rent money, and having to find a way to get some money. Offering a person like this some type of scholarship for what they go through would be a great thing because, believe me it is not easy and there have been so many times that I have just wanted to give up because I felt like nobody cared. Being recognized for little things like that means a lot and could help keep a person motivated to keep on going.

Like I stated before, a college students life is filled with many good and bad times and the fact that this University listens to it’s student to help minimize the struggles is what sets it apart from the rest. I am sure that, like we have, USC has had struggles and has had to learn from the past. So I offer new proposals from what I have learned from this University in hope that one day it will help my future alma mater and alumni

Sunday, April 1, 2007

An Honorary Trojan

With the May approaching, we here at the University of Southern California like many other universities around the nation prepare for graduation. For this reason I thought that I would write a post about who I would nominate as an honorary degree recipient in my field of sports psychology and sports rehabilitation. My decision was based on the following principles values that we bestow in our university mascot Tommy Trojan which are, being faithful, scholarly, skillful, courageous, and ambitious as well as those proposed by James Freedman in which an honorary degree "celebrate sublime and d achievement. While there were many people that came to mind I feel that there is one that stood out above the rest. That person is Herman Boone, former coach of T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. Many people are familiar with Coach Boone because of the movie Remember the Titans, which was based on his first year of coaching at this institution.

Coming into T.C Williams High School in 1971, Boone was faced with an enormous challenge of coaching a mixed race team. T.C. Williams was a high school formed from the integration of three schools in Alexandria. This was a court ordered integration, so while the courts were ready for the schools to integrate, most of Alexandria was not ready. During this time, racial tensions were high and he was taking the place of an all white team with hopes from the community that it would be Coach Bill Yoast, a legendary white coach with several years seniority that took over the team. Instead Coach Yoast was named assistant coach by Herman Boone and Coach Boone officially took the challenge not only to put together a winning football team, but to teach his players to respect him and each other, and he also had to deal with gaining the respect in the community of Alexandria and the football community.

As a football coach he demanded perfection from his players starting from the day they met. This was shown by him leading the Titans to a perfect season. Coach Boone had to overcome adversity not just on the playing field, but in life. He wanted to show that the color of a man's skin does not matter but his actions do. Coach Boone brought together an entire community through a game. By doing what he did in Alexandria he kept alive a dream that his mentore, Martin Luther King Jr. had which was to have a dream.

I feel that Coach Herman Boone fits right in to the standard of Tommy Trojan and therefore a righteous nominee as an honorary graduate of USC. His battle with adversity, his involvement in the community and being a family man I believe has earned him this rightful nomination. Since Coach Boone has retired from his very successful coaching career at T.C. Williams High School, he spends his time giving presentations around the world about respect, teamwork, community involvement and importance of character. Another great honor in his name is the trophy given in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which is a game between high school All-American seniors from the East and West side of the country, is named after him. If he were to speak to us at graduation he would speak of his struggles within a community. He would impose on us the morals and ideas that he placed on his team; brotherhood, teamwork, and the acceptance of change. And he would want us to remember everything that his team did for their community and apply it to the world today.

He is truly a person of great character, integrity and a symbol of social transformation. He overcame a time of racial tension and was also a very good coach. He is an all around man. While officially retired from coaching the game of football, he is still a coach. He coaches and motivates people’s lives. He is an outstanding role model to all those in my field and to all those that aren’t.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

This I Believe

To many, a sport is just a game. It is just a bunch of men and women throwing, kicking, hitting, kicking, or catching some type of ball around and scoring points. What many do not see is the hard work that these athletes put in. They don’t understand the competition, the pride, the leadership, the struggles and the success that comes from these games. To athletes this is more then a game. They acquire many skills and concepts that they will use in their personal life and in their careers. The one concept that I got most from sports and will carry on into my career is that of community.
Community: “a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.” In sports you create a new community with your team. You come together with a common goal of winning the championship as well as creating goals that will help you reach your ultimate goal. Many see this sports community as just the team, but there is much more then just the players. There are parents, coaches, fellow students, alumni, team doctors, and in some cases even you opponents.
I was able to really get an understanding for this concept of community through sports and specifically with one particular memory. In 2001 I got the opportunity to be on a football team that reached its goal of playing for a championship. I was a member of the Ventura High School football team and we had to travel to Arroyo Grande High School to play for the Southern Section CIF division four championship. As usually we had our normal fans attend the game but what we didn’t expect was that most of the town of Ventura decided to take the three hour drive and join our normal crowd. Many of which were previous opponents whom we had beat. They all came to cheer us on to victory. They wanted us to bring the title to Ventura County. We would go on to win the game 34-14 to give Ventura High School its first and only championship to date. After the game most of the fans rushed the field to show their excitement for our victory, they were just as excited as we were. The next day our local paper was filled with headlines and stories about our game. I wore my championship shirt that day and while walking around town I was congratulated about the championship and my personal performance.
I looked at our team as a community. We fit the definition of community. We had the support of our larger community and I feel that without this larger community we would have never achieved our goal. Our team started with a goal and it then became the goal of our parents as well as our school community and then our town. By the larger community giving us their support we felt like we should give something back in return.
The goal for my career is to become a physical therapist. My ultimate goal would be a physical therapist for a sports team. I can take what I learned from my football experience and use it toward my career. The people in the community that I help will be looking at me to get them back to their community or team. I feel like I will then become part of their community. I will not only have a self sense of satisfaction, I will also earn the trust of members of that community and therefore cause my business to grow and create a community of my own. I never felt like a game could bring a town together and I got to experience this first hand. I realized that having the trust and support of your community can lead to such good things. It is for these reasons for why I believe in community.

Monday, March 5, 2007

"A Time Honored Tradition"

A Fox News Story Reports: “In New York State, Mepham High School's football season was canceled this year before it even began. Three players were charged with sexually brutalizing younger teammates with a stick, pine cones and golf balls over the summer at a Pennsylvania training camp...” Hazing has become a right of passage for many new athletes at all the levels from high school all the way up to the professional level. Everything from trash, to broomsticks, to being tied to a goal post is all parts of hazing. So what is hazing? According to the Sport Journal, “…hazing is a broad term encompassing any action or activity which does not contribute to the positive development of a person; which inflicts or intends to cause physical or mental harm or anxieties; which may demean, degrade or disgrace any person regardless of location, intent or consent of participants…any action or situation which intentionally or unintentionally endangers a student for admission into or affiliation with any student organization.” Hazing is seen in th owrld of sports as a way to help build a relationship with the new team members when it in fact causes a divided team. We have had incidents where athletes have been physically harmed and mentally harmed and in some severe cases deaths have occurred.

Hazing is seen at all levels of athletics but it has been seen as more at the college athletic level then any other level of sports. Hazing has been around for many years. Each year numerous athletes are being introduced to this “time honored tradition” of hazing. A study conducted by ESPN found that almost 80% of all athletes have undergone some type of hazing and only 7% of these cases were reported. Why such the low number of reported cases? Many feel embarrassed to come out and talk about the things that were done to them, there is also a fear that there teammates will retaliate. Hazing has been shown to have severe emotional effects on the athlete. Loss of self-esteem, friendship, and trust are just a few of the consequences, as well as a loss in team unity. There have been numerous cases and arrests of teams taking these jokes or traditions to far and while there have been numerous reports of hazing in schools many coaches and athletic directors deny any cases of this going on in athletic programs.

Due to the increasing numbers of hazing cases throughout the years, many organizations and rules have been formed to help stop hazing in athletics. One of these organizations is the Mothers Against School Hazing which is extremely concerned with stopping hazing in schools. They are also involved in dealing with the effects that it plays on not just the athlete, but also students who are victims of hazing from athletics to fraternities and sororities and all other levels where it occurs. Many organizations have banned hazing in there sport. The NCAA banned hazing as well as most professional sports organizations.

Many of us who have played sports, or even joined a fraternity or sorority have been a victim to hazing. Many people become permanently scared and emotionally hurt. Hazing creates enemies instead of building friendships. Howdoes humiliating someone, make them want to join a team or organization? How does physically abusing somebody make them feel welcome into a new community?Athletics are supposed to be fun and hazing takes away the fun. There have been too many lines crossed and people have died and for the reason that people are dieing it needs to be completely abolished.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The New Generation of Athletics.

Childhood obesity is on the rise in the world today, and it is continuing to grow at an enormous rate. Many people have solutions to this problem and after going into the blogesphere, have found that many believe that it is due to the youth not being involved in any form of an athletic organization or that there is a decrease in activity period. With technology evolving, we have created a sedentary generation of computer lovers and gamers. We now have kids that think the Nintendo Wii is a sport. I come from a generation where we use to shut down streets to play a game. Nowadays, you can’t even play tag, touch football, or dodge ball in schools because they are too dangerous. We might as well just put video game systems on the playground. This week I looked and commented on two articles. One was about giving tax breaks to parents whose kids play organized sports and the other on how the Nintendo Wii is promoting fitness to the gamer generation. My comments are posted below.

A Fitness Tax Credit:
I think that this is a very bad idea. We already have kids that do not like to go out and play sports, so now we are going to have parents go out and force their kids to go play a sport so they can have a tax break. I feel that this will only lead to more kids not wanting to participate in sports. I have played organized sports my whole life and I could tell the kids whose parents made them go out and play vs the ones that wanted to be there. They were the ones that ended up hurt or they ended up quitting. I do feel though that there is some god out of this though ; this is an effort though to make the parents try and get there kids outside instead of being locked in a room playing video games. Like the first person that commented on this I feel like they should be putting the money into the physical education programs instead of giving tax breaks. I know that many P.E. programs are outdated and some are even being cut so we should put some funding in to these programs to help promote fitness.

The Wii and Obesity:
I agree with you about that these kids need to exercise something besides their thumbs. I find the whole thing about the Wii being a good source of exercise, kind of silly. I understand that we have this whole generation of gamers but how can this really compare to real exercise or even just going outside and playing. While I myself find these games fun and amusing I do not see them as a good source of exercise. Whatever happened to the good 'ol days of going and playing basketball, football, hockey or whatever your choice of game was in the street of your neighborhood? I see the Wii as another excuse for our obese children to stay inside instead of going outside and playing. They are missing out on all the fun that my friends and I, as well as many others use to have. As far as being involved emotionally involved in the games as well I think that many of them really need to get a life and go experience something that is real and not hooked up to a TV.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Adrenaline Junkies

I overshoot the jump and drop about fifteen feet. I smack my head on the ground and bruise my back the entire length of my spine. I pull off the track in pain and rest for about five minutes and fire up the bike again. “Where you going?” my friend asks. “To do it again” The adrenaline rush of doing a sixty foot jump or going down the face of a mountain with a board strapped to your feet is something that can not be described, it can only be experienced. This is a craze that spans sky diving to bungee jumping to racing. Much of it is not about winning or losing, it is about the thrill. Some may say that we are crazy for doing these things. Are you not tired of the countless trips to the emergency room, the broken bones, the aches and pains? Never. With the emergence of events like the X games, participation in extreme sports has increased dramatically and so has the increase in what some may call stupidity.

Like an addiction to drugs, there is an addiction to adrenaline. Researchers are beginning to find that these so called, “Adrenaline junkies,” may be causing the same harm as those that are hooked on drugs.Adrenaline is “a hormone secreted by the adrenal medulla upon stimulation by the central nervous system in response to stress, as anger or fear, and acting to increase heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac output, and carbohydrate metabolism.” It is coupled with an increase in heart rate, dilated pupils and the decision on what is called the flight of fight response. It suppresses pain and exhaustion. It allows us to do things that some can not see physically possible. Like lifting a car off someone to save their life, jump the motorcycle, or go down the mountain. Is this good or bad? Some researchers are beginning to think that this is not such a good thing. According to researchers, “adrenaline addiction is as real as drug or alcohol addiction, rewarding the body with exquisite pleasure and pain relief. But, as with any other addiction, the body builds tolerance to the chemical and needs larger, more frequent doses to achieve the desired effect” thus creating a tolerance to what the adrenaline seeker use to think as extreme. Like all thingsin life, the more you do them the better you get at them which leaves you looking for a new challenge, which is why two more feet are added to the jump or ten more feet of altitude may be added to a snowboard run and possibly an increase in danger of the person’s life.

This is that the hunt for adrenaline is beginning at a young age. The six-year-old on the dirt bike doing the same jumps as sixteen-year-old teenagers. Many of the youth in this category are breaking an outrageous number of bones and causing many insurance companies to raise rates or even refuse coverage. As for adults, “High-risk takers are easily bored and may suffer low job satisfaction. Their craving for stimulation can make them more likely to abuse drugs, gamble, commit crimes, and be promiscuous. As psychologist Salvadore Maddi, Ph.D., of the University of California-Davis warns, high-risk takers may "have a hard time deriving meaning and purpose from everyday life." This may lead to depression and suicide in some extreme cases.

In the sport of freestyle motocross, adrenaline junkies are very visible. Their high risk actions are becoming nationally televised like the recent televised footage of Mike Metzger’s back flip over the fountain at Cesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and Travis Pastrana’s double back flip. Many of these adrenaline seekers will go out to do something bigger and better. They want to raise the level of normalcy in their sport. As we speak someone right now is trying to top the double back flip. What will happen to these sports in the years to come? What will happen to those that want a bigger adrenaline rush when all the peaks have been explored? As w are seeing, there may be no limit to what can be accomplished. With the entrance of science and technology into sports, the possibilities may b endless.

Monday, February 12, 2007

America's Favorite Past Time??

Baseball, it’s America’s past time. Baseball is a great sport with much history and athletes. Recently there has been much interest in eh sport, but not for good reasons. With the recent allegations of steroid use in many of today’s top athletes, a dark cloud has begun to form over this great game. These issues are now being bought up in congress and national investigations have begun. Recent issues are regarding Barry Bonds being allocated of steroid use in the off season prior to breaking the all time career home run record. In our generation, we are seeing some of the greatest athletes that the sport has ever seen and we are seeing more records being broken then in any era of the sport. Is it because of steroids? Are athletes just better today? This week I looked into what others had to say in the bloggosphere on this issue of steroids. The first blog is titled, “Hey Selig, It’s Not Just a Record.” The second blog is “Got Juice, No Baseball Hall of Fame for Mark McGwire.”
y comments to two other blogs are posted below.

This record is one hell of an achievement I agree with you that Selig has to be there when the record is broken. As far as you saying Bonds not being in the same class as Hank Aaron I feel you are wrong. I have met both of these athletes and yes, Bonds is not a very nice guy but neither is Aaron. Anyways, regardless of the steroid use or not Bonds is probably one of the greatest players in the history of the game. Regardless of the type of person that he is, he is still one hell of a player. Many people only look at his recent stats, go back and look at his whole career. The gold gloves, the MVP's etc... I feel that Selig has much to do with the steroid problem then the players. When the homeruns were being hit he said nothing and now he is all about convicting people that haven't officially been accused of steroid use. Despite all this I feel that something needs to be done to this sport. It is a great game of great players and our youth needs to have role models to look up to and they never will if this dark cloud of steroid use hangs around baseball.

I believe that steroid use is wrong in sports. I feel it is cheating but how can we say these athletes are guilty without being proven. Young baseball players are having no one to look up to in sports. I feel though that we are putting a lot of emphasis on the one bad thing these athletes may have done, and not the fact that they are really good athletes, well at least Bonds anyways (Don't believe me look at his stats). I feel that we putting so much emphasis on the bad we are pushing people away from baseball, again.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Weighing out the Possibilities.

Athletes dream about throwing the game winning touchdown in the Super Bowl, or hitting the game winning homerun in the World Series. No matter the sport, whether it is football, baseball, racing or snowboarding, there is a desire to perform well, succeed and of course, have fun. Many up and coming athletes share the same dream that I use to have, to play at the professional level. These hopes and aspirations allow goals to be set and can play a crucial role in the development of great athletes. On the other hand, having high hopes and aspirations can lead people to do things that are harmful to themselves. The harm is when goal related thinking takes over your health, and the athlete would do anything to accomplish goal. Football is one of the biggest sports in America; and I do not mean just big in popularity, I mean big in the size of the athletes, especially linemen.

According to a recent study done by researchers at Iowa State University, they “found that nearly half of the offensive and defensive linemen playing on Iowa high school teams qualify as overweight, and one in 10 meet medical standards for severe obesity.” This trend is also being found in football teams in all states from the high school level to the professional level. The study also said, “For years at the pro and college level, teams have sought bigger, stronger linemen who are harder to budge. Players have responded by adding weight and muscle mass, making the 300-pound linemen fairly common, sports medical experts said.” To add support to this finding, a study conducted by The Scripps Howard News Service found, “The average weight in the NFL has grown by 10 percent since 1985 to a current average of 248 pounds. The heaviest position, offensive tackle, went from 281 pounds two decades ago to 318 pounds.” This is leading to several harmful medical effects. The obesity trend in linemen is creating higher rates of diabetes among retired linemen. Despite the health risk associated with the increased size, these linemen that are fifteen to eighteen years old are eating and hitting the weights trying to reach the prototypical size of three hundred pounds, sacrificing health for a scholarship or maybe even an NFL contract.

Dr George Philips, a pediatrician at the University of Iowa's Sports Medicine Center says, “Most of these kids aren’t going to play professionally or even at the college level. So what we need to do is to make sure if they’re going to add weight, muscle mass, that they do it in a healthy way.” Jennifer Jarvis, a writer for the life after sports website says, “Only 5 percent of college athletes go on to play sports professionally, the other 95 percent are forced to build careers.”

For the retired athlete, life after sports becomes a struggle, especially for those who have sacrificed their health at a young age. Many retired linemen are showing many health problems as they age and in some serious cases, death has even occurred. A study by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety found that, “while players generally weren't dying sooner than average, offensive and defensive linemen had a 52 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than the general population.” Retiring from a sport can be difficult transition. This transition can also lead into cases of depression which can further lead to more health problems. As study presented in the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine shows, “the prevalence of moderate to severe depression was nearly 15 percent, very similar to the prevalence in the general public. But the frequency with which the retired players reported problems with pain – nearly half the people in the study – puts them at significant additional risk for depression and associated difficulties.”

With the constantly growing popularity of football, so has there been an increase in size of the athlete. This increase in size is leading to more heart disease, diabetes, and even death. We can still enjoy the game without the linemen weighing three hundred pounds. If steps are not being taken now then what will happen? With the growing trends in obesity in football, one could only hope that it does not reach down to the levels of junior football where there is already an increase in size of children at this age.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Does It Really Give You Wings?

“Red Bull, It gives you wings.” “Monster Energy: Unleash the Beast.” With an increase in the so called extreme sports, there has been an increase in the amount of energy drinks consumed by these athletes and the general public as well. Turn on or attend a sporting event and you can see why. At the race track, at the snowboard competition, at the wake board competition you see banners for Red Bull. You are handed samples of Rockstar and Full Throttle by beautiful models wearing very little clothing. The winner of the competition thanks his sponsor Monster Energy while taking a sip from the can of Monster Energy. You begin to believe that they really won that race, that competition just because of that Red Bull. That must be what gave them that extra energy, right?

Many people see this advertising everyday and but these products because of it. Many young children and drinking these drinks because there favorite athlete is seen drinking it after winning a competition. In a world where most of our children our already overweight, the addition of energy drinks to there diet does not help. They also purpose a health risk to the athlete endorsing the product. These drinks, whose primary ingredients are caffeine and sugar, account for over six percent of the non alcoholic beverage market and are expected to be muti billion dollar companies by 2010.

There are four primary ingredients in all of the energy drinks: caffeine, sugar, taurine, and glucuronolactone .Caffeine can lead to dehydration, and dehydration and exercise do not mix. Caffeine is a diuretic which allows for release of fluids not the reuptake of fluids which in turn causes dehydration. Taurine is an amino acid. Amino acids help with the building of proteins. And glucuronolactone which rids the body of harmful things and causes very quick energy and helps fight fatigue. Taurine and glucoronolactone are created naturally in the body.

According to the Drug Information Clearing House, research has shown that young children who consume energy drinks may suffer from sleep problems, bed-wetting and anxiety as well as becoming irritable. Long term effects may also take place due to the amount of caffeine, as much a large string cup, and sugar, about five tablespoons per eight ounces. As for the athlete, these drinks may lead to dehydration which in turn actually will eventually lead to fatigue. They also increase heart rate which increases arousal and too much arousal can lead to fatigue.

The verdict. While these drinks due supply you with quick energy, they do so with some possible health risks especially to our young athletes. There is still much to be explored in this area. There is still much debate over the whether or not these drinks are safe to drink. Over time we will see if it is really safe for you to get your wings.