Archive for July, 2014

Alcohol and Sports: It’s What’s for Dinner

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Alcohol and Sports: It’s What’s for Dinner

Notice: If you’re oversensitive, crack open a cold one and lighten up.

By Jeff Kagan ACES Sports

Alcoholic Beverages seem to go with sports like getting a hot dog at the ballpark.   Do we drink while playing sports or play sports while drinking? That’s an interesting question, at least to me. It appears that drinking is a part of the culture of some sports more than others.

For as long as there have been people playing sports, people have been enjoying adult beverages.   Alcohol has been embedded in the culture of many popular sports from all forms of advertising at sports venues to stadium beer sales; this can’t be denied. Think about some of the greatest Super Bowl commercials of all time; beer. How much profit is there in stadium beer sales? What about in home consumption on game day? Without that revenue supporting the organizations, the game would be much different. Total beer sales in America were over $100 Billion in 2013, and of that, in-stadium beer sales has to be the most profitable based on the mark-up. Beer for the group I was with, at the last game I attended, was more than the GNP of most small countries.

Is bowling a sport or a drinking game? I say with no disrespect to bowlers, it’s both. That would depend on who’s bowling of course. Is there a bowling alley that doesn’t have a bar? How about Curling? Yes, Curling is an Olympic Sport, but what is it really? I might be showing my ignorance, but that’s ok. I think of Curling as the northern version of Bowling; a drinking game. No disrespect to the Great White North, but what’s there to do in the middle of the winter in Canada? You have a frozen lake; make a fire, polish the ice and break out the booze. Sounds like fun eh’. Softball, come on, that’s another perfect example. Yes, softball can be played at an extremely competitively level and I understand that, but recreationally it’s more of a social sport. Quite frankly, it seems more people play it as a social sport. I think there were 2 movies that came out in the same year about this subject. They were both very funny movies that were based on the culture of beer and softball. One was called Beer League. Great name when you consider the www.urbandictionary.com definition of BEER LEAGUE: “An organized sports venue in which participants focus their efforts on both the event at hand and the post and pre-game ceremonies which include large consumptions of alcoholic beverages. Generally, these athletes take their involvement too seriously, comparing themselves to professional athletes.” When I played softball, we always had beer in the dugout. The better teams I played on had a keg. How about rugby? Great sport, one of the greatest games I’ve ever played.  I had a great time in the 5 years I played rugby. The culture of that sport was tied to alcohol. Great post game parties. You know the old saying, “what happens after a rugby game, no one remembers”. I think that’s what they say, I can’t remember.

OK, drinking adult beverages is not really that healthy and sports are supposed to be healthy right? To quote the great philosopher, when he coached the NY Giants in the 1980’s, “That’s why we lift all them damn weights”, so we can enjoy a few cold one’s.   There’s a new sports drink on the market flavored like beer. A Canadian company called Vampt manufactures it. I read it cost 150 Loonies (Canadian Currency) for a 24 pack ($140 US Currency), so it’s expensive. This beverage is Gluten free (must be healthy, right?), only has 77 calories and is 0.5 % alcohol by volume. Vampt calls it Lean Machine, Lager Ale (http://www.vamptbrands.com/#!workout-lean-machine/zoom/c1t44/imagewm7). Lean Machine is being marketed as a recovery drink. Is that recovery from Sports activities, a night out, or both?   It’s loaded with electrolytes and antioxidants and other nutrients. The premise is that this is better for those that like to cool down with a cold brew. Makes sense to me. How about toothpaste flavored like beer? Is that next?

Let’s face it; drinking is something that has been around forever. It’s part of our history from the beginning of recorded time. I guess it’s in our DNA. We drink wine when we pray, we drink to celebrate, and we drink when we are depressed. If we want to cheer someone up we say, “Let’s go out, I’ll buy you a beer”. Drinking is one of the social behaviors we have participated in forever. For the record, never drink and drive, never drink and ride a bicycle, or skateboard. That doesn’t work either, trust me.

DISCLAIMER:

This is my opinion alone, not the opinion of ACES Sports, Americans, people who grew up in NJ, people who live in Florida, Men, or any other group I am or have been affiliated with.   If I’ve offended Softball Players, Bowlers, people that participate in Curling or Canadians, (I think those 2 are the same) oh well, get over it.

 

 

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Summer Time is No Time to Rest

Jeff Kagan : ACES Sports

 

Summer in America is a very important time for student-athletes. It’s not a time to goof off and relax, not if you want to win. Summer is a time to take your game to a new level, hone your craft and establish chemistry with your teammates and coaches.

 

The summer is a time when students are normally off from school and have the freedom to choose how they will spend their time. Free time in the summer months for Students age 14 – 18 is not always a good thing. Some will find the wrong things to do to pass the time, which can have long lasting implications. Others will work in an attempt to save enough money for a car or to help pay for college. It’s hard to argue with this. They are setting goals and finding ways to achieve those goals. However, for athletes 2-3 months off in the summer is time to get better. Better academically, physically and athletically. High school athletes everywhere are working hard to get better every day. Every workout, every training session is a step towards reaching their goals.

 

If a student wants to get better at any given activity, then they will need to put the work in. If you plan to participate in a spelling bee, you study. If you plan to participate in basketball, you play basketball. It’s as simple as that. Yes, I think there needs to be some balance, and yes, they all need to find a way to add a little reading into their summer, but if they are student athletes, they need to do the things that athletes do to get better, train.

 

Don’t ask me about the lost innocence of the youth of today. Give me a break. Stop envisioning a child walking down a dirt road with a fishing pole kicking a can, or skipping rocks in a pond. Those lazy days of summer are not for high school student athletes who are driven towards success. Those days are over.

 

We live in a competitive time in a very competitive world. Quite frankly, as a society, we have gotten lazy. It starts with youth sports and activities. This whole thing about everyone wins and everyone get’s a trophy is bad for our country. Yes, bad for our country! This practice teaches a socialistic approach to life. That is not America, and not the competitive world we live in.  Only one person will get promoted into that management position several people might be working towards. Let’s teach them at an early age to reach for there goals competitively, and that it’s okay to win. I remember winning a trophy for First place in Basketball when I was 12. One of the best things about that experience was going to the awards dinner at the end of the season and getting called up to receive my trophy in front of all my peers. I won; my 7 teammates and I got the trophy that year, and the others kids in the league did not. It felt good to be rewarded for our efforts; to be one of 8 winners. Winning is good, and it feels good. There’s nothing wrong with that. My peers who did not achieve their goal that season but got something that night as well. They got a delicious spaghetti dinner and the visual memory of me with the first place trophy. Hopefully they came away with the motivation to be there next year with the first place trophy. That’s the way it was. That’s the way it should be. Not everyone can win all the time. Life is difficult and it is survival of the fittest. Do everything you can to be the fittest.  That’s a healthy attitude. As coaches, we are trying to prepare our players to be successful. It’s a simple solution: set goals, work hard, and do everything you can to achieve your goals.

 

Team sports require a high percentage of like-minded hard working teammates. Winning team’s have an “ALL IN” approach to the off-season. They become a band of brothers (or sisters) committed to being the best. They set personal goals and team goals, and they do not take summers off.

 

High School football was recently criticized in my local paper (Press Journal – Scripts Newspapers) for the amount of time players are being asked to participate in summer workouts. Not only do they have workouts, but also have 7-on-7 tournaments, college recruiting camps, and team camps. It was discussed in the Press Journal article, that there are varying opinions (school to school) regarding how much coaches pressure kids to participate in the summer workout programs. Coaches are under enormous pressure to win. They need to prepare their team for the season. They need the players to be in shape once practices start in August. They need a high percentage of participation in their summer program to have a chance at winning during the season. The players understand; they want to win too. Some high school athletes have the hopes and dreams to play in college when their high school days are over. They have been told how difficult it is to get recruited. If students want to compete for athletic scholarships, they need to outwork and out perform the competition. Most realize summer is a time to prepare. In that press Journal article written by Jon Santucci he included some statistics I found enlightening. 1 in 99 High School Football players in Florida sign a National Letter of intent. What does that come down to? 1 in every 4 high school teams (assuming 25 seniors on each team) has a player sign a letter of intent to play at a college. That’s It. The article mentions that Florida had the highest percentage. They stated that Georgia was second with a ratio of 1 in every 176, California was third at 1 in 408 and Texas was fourth at 1 in 436.

 

A student Athlete giving up his or her time, in the summer, to prepare for a sport they play, is a necessary practice for competitive sports. Just like it is for musicians who are members of the band. The old joke, “A man walks down the street and asked a stranger, how do you get to Carnegie Hall? The stranger replies, Practice, Practice, Practice.” Yes, they need balance in their lives, but to reach team or individual goals takes hard work, and a lot of practice.

 

Do you agree with this article? I would love to know what is expected of athletes in your local high school.

 

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From Zero to Nil

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Jeff Kagan: ACES Sports

American’s fascination with Futbol (Soccer) will be temporary. Soccer does not provide the type of sports entertainment Americans have grown to love and appreciate. We need much more than soccer can provide. As an American, I like excitement in my sports. Soccer just does not provide enough action for my liking. In some popular American sports, like football, the rules are constantly being tweaked in an attempt to increase scoring and excitement.

I grew up in North Jersey playing just about every organized sport I could. My parents were very supportive of my athletic endeavors. I grew up playing Football, Basketball and Baseball, the traditional American sports of my generation. I did however, play some other sports and I enjoyed them quite a bit. I played some Hockey, learned Karate, and I was a pretty good Skate Boarder in my time. And yes, I played a couple of years of organized Soccer growing up. This was the 1970’s and professional Soccer in Metropolitan NY was the darling sport for a moment in time. The NY Cosmos played in Giant’s Stadium to near sellout crowds after they signed the best soccer player in the world, Pele (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8QEmnP48PEc). I gave soccer a shot, but it just didn’t do it for me. I respect the people that play soccer. They are truly amazing, skilled athletes. I had plenty of friends who played soccer in High School and a couple of them actually got to play in college on full scholarships at big time Universities.

Worldwide, soccer holds the title of the most popular sport. Internationally, Soccer players are the highest paid athletes. That brings us to the World Cup, currently taking place in Brazil (just in case you have been living under a rock the last few weeks). The world is going crazy for the World Cup, America included. Every 4 years we become Soccer fans. Mike D’Amico aka Teddy Goalsevelt who dresses up like Teddy Roosevelt (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3z4Hzo9UmrQ&feature=youtu.be) and rallies the crowd with the Will Farrell at a local bar is a prime example.

But let’s face it; Americans are not yet true Soccer Fans. We want to share in the excitement of the event. We love the idea of the World Cup, just like we love to watch the Olympics every 4 years. It’s another reason the go to the local bar or have a World Cup party, and we all love a good party. Often, many Americans will cheer for the country of their ancestors. Their families might have been in America for over 100 years, but “Let’s Go Italy?”

Time keeping in Soccer is different as well. When the time on the scoreboard runs out, the game is over in most other sports, not in Soccer. They have extra time. Extra time is tacked on to the end of a game based on a running clock during the game and time wasted when the ball goes out of bounds. Most Americans have a hard time relating to extra time. Can’t they just stop the clock?

Do soccer players have super powers? Players regularly go down in agony. They look like they will be surely lost for the remainder of the game. Penalties are assessed against the offending player (Yellow Cards, Red Card, Credit Cards, what ever). But no, they are up and playing as if nothing happened in a very short time. Now I know where the Big Three from South Beach learned it (see 2014 NBA Playoffs).

When did the Number ZERO become NIL? The same people who say Nil when talking about a Soccer score will watch the Cowboy’s beat the Redskins 21-0. They will never refer to the score as twenty-one – NIL.

Soccer is growing in popularity in the US, fueled in part by the growth of the Hispanic population (2012 Census reported an increase up to 17%). America, as a new Nation over 200 years ago, wanted to create a life unique to itself. We created our own sports. Soccer morphed into Rugby in England and we took it one step further and created Football. We also invented Basketball. Native Americans in North America invented lacrosse, and it has been going through incredible growth over the last 15 years. As a melting pot of cultures, we will continue to evolve in multiple ways. Sports is just one of them.

But I say stop the madness! When will all this end? When will Americans stop the charade? We are not FUTBOL fans. We don’t go to pubs; we go to bars, just like we live in houses not flats. But rest assured, it will all end, or at least slow down, as soon as the World Cup is over. Soccer will regress back to its slow and steady growth. And NIL will go back to being ZERO, for now anyway.

What do you think about the future of soccer in America? Will the panic about football injuries continue to push children from football and into soccer (and other sports)? Leave your comments below.

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