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 I know that many P.E. programs are outdated and some are even being cut so we should put some funding in to these programs to help promote fitness.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.