Sports

The Case for Reading Running Books

By Gary Dudney, author of The Tao of Running: Your Journey to Mindful and Passionate Running  Running can seem very much like a “just do it” kind of thing. You run. You sweat. When you’re done, you’re happy with yourself. End of story, move on. Why would you need to get all thoughtful about it? Why would you need the case for reading running books? Well, because for many people running becomes a lot more than just getting a little exercise. Delve more deeply into what’s going on in your mind out there on a run and you’ll be surprised at the richness of the experience. Why is running such a stress reliever? Why do you feel so empowered after a run? Why does running give you such a blast of self-esteem? Understanding the mental side of running can help you answer these questions and not incidentally help make you a much better runner. It can also make you better at handling stress in other areas of life. Over the past 20 years, I’ve run 52 one hundred mile races. My record for the first 26 hundred milers I ran was 16 successes and 10 failures. Not a great record. But then I reeled off 26 straight finishes to get to my total of 52. The difference wasn’t in any physical changes I made, like more or different training. The difference was that I thoroughly studied the mental side of running and got my head right for dealing with the tough challenges you face when you run hard or long. If you’re running, you should be reading about running. There are many very inspiring running books out there nowadays about people who have transformed their lives in amazing ways through running. And then there are books like mine, The Tao of Running: Your Journey to Mindful and Passionate Running that help you focus on the mental journey that running takes you on and offers strategies for overcoming the toughest challenges. These strategies help you run better but they can also be applied to other challenges in your life. About Gary Dudney Long time columnist for Ultrarunning magazine, Gary Dudney is thrilled to share his hard-won understanding of the mind of the runner from being “out there” himself during 40 years of running. He’s written advice pieces and adventure stories for all the major running magazines. He’s completed over 200 marathons and ultramarathons, including fifty 100 mile races.   This blog is brought to you by CPG News & Information Services. 


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America’s Quest for the Cup

The Four Year Review: America's Quest for the Cup First Part of the Hex, US Struggles by Shane Stay On November 11, 2016, in front of a sold out stadium, the Hexagonal began. The second part of the Road to Russia was under way. Dos a Cero was the big talk going into the game, meaning 2-0. To date, Michael Bradley has been the only player to score two goals in a Dos a Cero victory over Mexico. Meanwhile, coach Klinsmann was saying the team was taking it one game at a time. But nothing could emphasis how important this match was. Columbus had served as a great “fortress” for the US team. Before this date, they had not lost a game there. A disadvantage on this night would be the many injured US players. Unable to play were Dempsey, Wondolowski, Zardes and Cameron, to name a few. On the other side, Mexico was rearing to go with regulars, Dos Santos, Chicharito, Guardado, the new talent Corona, the veteran Marquez, with the passing-guidance in the middle from Herrara, arguably the best passer of the ball in CONCACAF. The reliable hand of Tim Howard was in goal, at thirty-seven years old. Early in the first half, Mexico possessed the calmer passing. The US was pressed, frequently clearing the ball back to their opponent. Mexico nearly scored first, hitting the post. Then, off a broken tackle, one of the Mexican players took a shot from outside the top of the box, sending it on the ground, without much power, into the corner, past the outreached arm of Howard. Following that, Mexico hit the crossbar. From there, they continued with strong possession, overwhelming the defensive-minded US side with too many savvy offensive-minded ball handlers. Then Howard – of the Colorado Rapids – went down after taking a goal kick. Brad Guzan warmed up on the sideline, but Howard stayed in…a few moments later, he made a routine save, got up, rolled the ball out of bounds, made a gesture to exit the game and Guzan came in to replace him. As halftime arrived, the Fox Sports panel – led by Rob Stone – had a lively discussion trying to figure out how the US – who lacked discipline – could move forward. Early in the second half, the US players showed a lot more energy, asserting themselves into the flow of the game. Altidore connected on a short pass to Wood on the top of the box, who made his way through the last defenders and tapped the ball past the goalie for the equalizer. Toward the end of the game, Mexico scored off a head ball from Marquez, putting them ahead by one goal. The referee had a hard time with the pushing and shoving throughout the game, as it escalated sporadically toward the end. The final score was a tightly contested loss for the US. It was only the first game of the Hexagonal, with more time to make up for it. Next on the Road to Russia would be Costa Rica a few days later, on November 15, 2016. It wasn't dire straits, but it was clear the US needed a victory to get back on track. With that said, the US went into Costa Rica and took a 4-0 loss. It was a tough defeat, as the USMNT created a potential comeback story that will be one for the ages as they push forward on "America's Quest for the Cup" on the Road to Russia.   Shane Stay is the author of Why American Soccer Isn't There Yet (2014, Meyer & Meyer Sport). He is a former professional soccer player in addition to being a writer, comedian, producer, and founder of Leaf Dressing. To see  more of Shane's insight in American soccer, where it falls short and can improve, pick up your copy of his book today. You can follow Shane on Twitter @shanestay or like him on Facebook.


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US Has Great Success Building into the World Cup

US Has Great Success Building Into The World Cup Part Of Shane Stay's Four Year Review From The 2016 Copa America  By Shane Stay Paraguay As this Four Year Review rolls on, the US took on Paraguay for the last game in their group. A good result was needed to advance into the playoff round, and that’s where things got interesting. Previously, the US lost to Colombia, 0-2. Then the US defeated Costa Rica, 4-0. On the night of the third game, Colombia, the number three team in the world, lost to Costa Rica, causing them to get second in the group.  Against Paraguay, the US won 1-0 despite playing down a man. Dempsey scored the goal, Yedlin received two yellow cards, Brooks had a great defensive game and the team as a whole came together to hold off the Paraguayan attacks. With the win, the US moved onto play in the quarterfinal against Ecuador, which was held in the loud setting of Seattle. With home field advantage, the US was showing the tournament they were one of the top teams there.  This generation of US players has benefited from the creation of the MLS in 1995. All of the players from the generation before 1995 were good athletes and players, but they lacked the experience provided by an outdoor league. While fielding competitive teams, they couldn’t get beyond a certain level. Practically everyone in the world looked down on the American soccer program, which affected the team’s performance. Furthermore, the players back then were good defenders, as they are today. While defenders like Brooks played well, I still believe the team needed to take a chance with more skillful defenders on the offensive side of the ball. This would push the team forward with long term success, which comes from a sound groundwork of creative possession that has gotten better over the years.  Paraguay had a good team going into the game. Traditionally, they’ve been competitive, but they’ve never stood out as a major threat in a tournament like this, or the World Cup. At this point in the tournament Brazil, who has been a leader in the game since the 1950s and who was expected to win their group, was sent home because of not getting through the playoff round. Though it wasn’t a huge surprise that the US won their group, with Brazil gone, the feeling was that anything could happen. Ecuador The US stood up to the challenge of playing in the quarterfinal against Ecuador, in Seattle. It could be said that home field advantage was playing a significant role in the success of the team during the tournament, considering what a terrible year they had in 2015. However, was the team playing well? Were they getting results? Did they advance in a large tournament? Yes, yes and yes.  The bigger issue here is how to get the team past that certain point. The team can get better with adjustments. Change the culture of play in defense, by developing more offensive-minded defenders who control possession in a skillful way, and you will have a better team which will have consistent success.  To push us over the top, like Sylvester Stallone from his underrated "Citizen Kane of an arm wrestling movie," it’s about creative possession from the defense. The team needs to adjust the defense to get into the deeper rounds of the World Cup. They look good now, but this team can’t win the World Cup. They’ll turn some heads, like in 2010, but they won’t push it to the limit. We need more “skateboarders,” such as Neymar’s debut game for Brazil in 2010 against the US. No one had ever heard of him, in the US anyway. He was about 17 or 18. During the national anthem the camera panned over this kid, with a mohawk, looking like a puny, skinny, scrawny little punk-rock skateboarder. At that moment, in line with Pato (who’s gotten a bad rap), Gonso (who’s been looked over) and Robinho, most people realized he was going to be a good player. And for his debut, Neymar scored a goal and dribbled with confidence as a veteran would. (Gonso, also in his debut game for Brazil, played phenomenally, casually leading the attack with beautiful passes.) That’s what the US needs: more scrawny, skateboard punks who can really dribble. Why did Brazil exit the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Copa America so disgracefully? They didn’t have the classic creative dribblers and playmakers that they’re known for. They need to get back to what they do well, and the US needs to get into what Brazil should return to. After losing the first game to Colombia, the US made great strides getting into the semifinals of the 2016 Copa America. A little surprised, yes and no. It turns out that Paraguay and Costa Rica weren't as good as people thought, and the US got out of the group. Yet, considering home field advantage, particularly in the quarterfinal with Ecuador in Seattle, it made sense. The argument I'm putting together for the future of the team is that making the semifinals for this tournament "isn't there yet," considering the US made the semi's in this tournament in 1995. Also, Brazil didn't advance out of their group, which was really weird. Another surprise was Mexico, who was thought to be one of the best teams in the tournament, losing 7-0 to Chile.    Argentina From the outset, the US and Argentina were looking to be interesting. Yet again, with home field advantage there was a glimmer of hope that the US men could find a victory in Houston and leave Texas for the championship match. But Argentina proved that South American competition is a world away from the leaders of CONCACAF. In the end, the US lost 4-0, playing the number one team in the world. The majority of US analysts constantly serve as a reminder as to how we Americans approach the game: It’s like an executive boardroom, ala Glengarry Glen Ross, with high expectations and unrealistic goals. “Did you score a goal?” “No.” “Well, you didn’t do your job. We have to replace you.”  The key issue is that we are not supplying the players with the right approach to “scoring goals.” There’s no use in expecting them to score if the approach is wrong, particularly against an opponent like Argentina, who was doing everything we needed to be doing (which is not asking too much, which is the paradox). Dribbling must be a priority. The two-man game within crowded areas on the field must be a priority. When Argentina possesses the ball in the middle of the field, with artistic short passing and dribbling, it becomes clear why they have more quality scoring chances. That’s where all the scoring begins.  The question for the future is simple. Can the USMNT figure it out by the next World Cup? It’s possible. There’s still a lot of time to wait and see.   Shane Stay is the author of Why American Soccer Isn't There Yet,  Meyer & Meyer 2014.  Shane Stay is a former professional soccer player, writer, comedian, producer and founder of Leaf Dressing. In 2008, Stay bottled Leaf Dressing, co-authored a print book, published a magazine story, worked clubs as a comedian, played restaurateur and received a Masters of Arts. Stay has a Bachelor of Arts from Sonoma State University and a Master of Arts from Southern Illinois University. This blog post is brought to you by CPG News & Information Services.   


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US vs. Costa Rica

2016 Copa America US vs. Costa Rica By Shane Stay, author of Why American Soccer Isn't There Yet  This was basically a must win game for the US. In all likelihood, a defeat would have sent them out of the tournament. Considering the opening loss to Colombia, if the US tied there might be some hope to move into the next round. Within CONCACAF, the three tops teams were the US, Mexico and Costa Rica. So it was fitting that the US would face an old conference rival. To that point, Costa Rica might have been the best of the group, however, that would be hard to argue with considering how well Mexico was playing in the past year.   Soldier Field in Chicago was the location with 39,642 in attendance. Immediately, a penalty kick was awarded, putting the US up a goal, and from there they never looked back. Costa Rica attempted a comeback, but had no answer. The US put in four by the end of the game. It was a surprise because this Costa Rican team was highly regarded and many people were expecting a more difficult game. When goals are scored, everything seems right. Good combination play and accurate through passes helped the US outplay their opponent. The Costa Ricans were constantly looking for chances to break through the defense, hitting the post at one point, but it just wasn’t their night. The win brought a new energy to the upcoming Paraguay game in which the US could have moved into the next round with a good performance. Regardless of how the Copa America ended up, this win secured Klinsmann his job through the next World Cup. Speculation was that if the US had lost again, Klinsmann might be on his way out. But with a four to nothing victory there’s no disputing that he would continue as the leader into Russia.     Shane Stay is a former professional soccer player, writer, comedian, producer and founder of Leaf Dressing. In 2008, Stay bottled Leaf Dressing, co-authored a print book, published a magazine story, worked clubs as a comedian, played restaurateur and received a Masters of Arts. Stay has a Bachelor of Arts from Sonoma State University and a Master of Arts from Southern Illinois University.   This blog has been brought to you by CPG News & Information Services


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Copa America: US vs Colombia

  2016 Copa America: US vs. Colombia By Shane Stay, author of Why American Soccer Isn't There Yet, Meyer & Meyer Sport 2014  In the opening match of the 2016 Copa America, sponsored by Sprint, the US lost to Colombia 2-0. Despite the result, the US played well. It’s not condescending to say they didn’t play as well as Colombia. They didn’t. But they played well. Both sides had good, strong tackles. It was a lively game. The problem was that, as a team, Colombia started to reveal their superior touch, vision, professionalism and experience which came about in high-paced possession, accurate flicks, little chips, good through balls, along with very good, well-trained and very aggressive defense. They were ranked number three in the world, and they played like it. Ranked 31st, the US played well, but they were lacking in the most important part of the game: highly skilled defensive possession. With a subtle change in that regard, the US could have rightfully been ranked in the top fifteen and likely would have gotten a better result in a game like this. The first half was the better showing for the US. Colombia was good as well, benefiting from two goals, one of which was a controversial handball call, leading to an interesting debate. Was it a handball? The US player in question, Yedlin, turned his back to a cross, leaving his arm slightly outstretched, which made contact with the ball. The letter of the law states that because he made himself bigger, by leaving his arm outstretched, it was called a penalty kick. James put it away, and that was the end score. Predictably, the US had a challenge on its hands for the next two games. The issue was the same for the US. The defenders were lacking offensive character. They are usually good defenders, there’s no disputing that, but they’re not the best in possession.   The problem is, surprise, surprise, the defenders have the majority of possession, in every game. The way they distribute the ball to the other so-called “creative players” affects how the flow of the game goes. In effect, with the majority of possession, the defenders are the “creative players.” It never changes. It’s a little like David Brent questioning his employee Keith, who asks, “What are the options?” “They’re always the same.” Everything on offense starts with the defense. Media commentators suggested many ideas for the lineup, including the benching of Bradley. But rather than be benched, Bradley would be better used as a fullback. Despite some players not being on the team, the best four defenders would have been Yedlin, Bradley, Ream (or Cameron) and Brek Shea (or an idea outside the box would be to use a forward like a healthy Edson Buddle). With that backline, there would have been no more wondering why the USMNT can’t win the big tournaments. It starts with the defenders. With all the talk of lineup changes, a center midfielder is needed to lead the defense. The US should have taken a chance – months ago – with Bradley as a center fullback, preferably with Ream (or Bradley with Cameron or Besler or Brooks).  The upside was that, in general, the US team had a good presence and with a better skilled backline they could defeat top teams. There was still hope, and Klinsmann was correct in his assessment after the game, noting that it was a good game, and it would serve well for the future of the team, whether moving on in this tournament or taking that confidence into the next World Cup.   Shane Stay is a writer, former professional soccer player, comedian, producer and founder of Leaf Dressing. In 2008, Stay bottled Leaf Dressing, co-authored a print book, published a magazine story, worked clubs as a comedian, played restaurateur, received a Master of Arts and played professional soccer. In 1999, Stay founded the first online Current Events game, CE Game. Stay has a Bachelor of Arts from Sonoma State University and a Master of Arts from Southern Illinois University. He was born in Carbondale, Illinois, to parents Jim and Carol Hanson, an author and school teacher.       This blog post has been brought to you by CPG News & Information Services


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A Race That Lived Up to Its Billing

By Lew Freedman It was a race that lived up to its billing, a race that was worthy of the advance hype and its place in history. The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29, not only filled the venerable Indianapolis Motor Speedway to bursting with 350,000 people in attendance, it delivered a race to be savored. Due to slick planning by his Andretti Autosport team, rookie Alexander Rossi became the champion in the most prestigious automobile race in the world, one that dates back to 1911, and as always it enthralled an audience bedazzled by speed. Rossi, 24, a Californian who has been living in Europe since he was 16 so he could embark on a Formula 1 career, became the freshest face on the IndyCar scene when he almost miraculously nursed 36 laps at 2.5 miles per circle out of speedy race car without stopping for fuel. Every ticket was sold in advance for the race that pays out $13.4 million in prize money, about $2.5 million to the victor. Every angle was scrutinized, yet practically no one in the world would have predicted Rossi as winner and even fewer would have guessed how he would out-run Carlos Munoz and Josef Newgarden, the second- and third-place finishers. "At least people had an amazing show to watch for the 100th running," said Newgarden, disappointed at not being the winner. It was a fabulous show. Anyone lucky enough to attend experienced a glorious day and that included the weather of 81 degrees and mostly sunny after weather forecasts called for thunderstorms. The start was clean, the lead changes frequent. Thirteen of the 33 racers led at one time or another and there were 54 lead changes, the second most in a single race.  Although there were several crashes, they were minor in nature with all drivers able to climb out of their cars under their own power. Safety focus and protection is better than ever at the Speedway. This latest chapter in "The Greatest Spectacle In Racing" was indeed grand spectacle. In Rossi's case, if he goes on to become a perennial all-star driver everyone will recall that he entered the big-time in Indianapolis on a pleasant day in May. And did so under the mostly highly pressurized of circumstances and was transformed from unknown to household name overnight. About Lew Freedman: Lew Freedman's most recent book is The Indianapolis 500: A Century of High Speed Racing. He is a prize-winning sportswriter and former sports editor of the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska, and The Republic in Columbus, Indiana. He also worked on the staffs of the Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer. Freedman is the author of numerous sports books, many on the White Sox, Cubs, and baseball history.     This blog has been brought to you by CPG News & Information Services


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The Beginning

It's an exciting time in May at the Motor Speedway the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 race quickly approaches. The following is an excerpt from Lew Freedman's book, The Indianapolis 500: A Century of High Speed Racing. Enjoy The Beginning... The first Indianapolis 500 took place in 1911 when the “Average Joe” in the United States did not even own a car for private transportation, or at least one that had an enclosed body and could take him very far. Compared to the cars on the road these days, passenger cars moved at the speed of golf carts, so right from the beginning, just being able to watch a race car speed around an oval at more than ninety mph was breathtaking. Initially construction of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was not aimed at auto racing, but automobile development. Indianapolis was vying to become the nation’s motor vehicle center, competing against Detroit for the soul of the industry. Detroit had Henry Ford. Indianapolis wanted to lure manufacturers with a splendiferous testing facility. The world’s most famous automobile race was begun as a tenant for the Speedway, which opened its doors in 1909 and successfully attracted crowds well into the thousands for motorcycle racing and other events. The Speedway itself was a showplace from the start and it took almost no time before the Indianapolis 500 race added more cache to its fundamental reason for being. From its inception – and its reputation only grown and enhanced – the Indy 500 was the longest, most prestigious, most popular, and most exciting automobile race in the world. This new gravel-and-tar track built for $250,000 on 328 acres of what had been farmland six mile west of the city at the (now-famous address) corner of 16th Street and Georgetown Road lured fans fascinated by speed.   About the Author: Lew Freedman is author of over 75 books including JUMP SHOT: Kenny Sailors, Basketball Innovator and Alaskan Outfitter.


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Hidden Talent

Inside the Steelers’ draft room at Three Rivers Stadium with (from left to right) Bill Nunn Jr., Dick Haley, director of player personnel, V. Tim Rooney, a nephew of Art Rooney Sr., and Art Rooney Jr., vice president. Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Author of The Color of Sundays and Breakaway: The Inside Story of the Pittsburgh Penguins' Rebirth, Andrew Conte, brings to light the hidden talent. Championships are made in the late rounds. Everyone knows about the first-round picks, the guys sitting in the green room waiting for their name to be called. The only suspense centers on what team exactly will choose them -- not whether anyone will. Many NFL insiders knew about "Mean" Joe Greene before the 1969 draft. A defensive tackle, he attended the University of North Texas, a small, but racially integrated school. The Steelers chose him with the team's first pick, fourth overall. Then 234 picks later, in the 10th round of the same draft, the Steelers also chose L.C. Greenwood, another defensive line player, who was a student at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, an historically black college. He had been overlooked by every NFL team -- many times. Together, Greene and Greenwood made up half of the Steelers' famous "Steel Curtain" front four. The other half came together two years later. Dwight White, from East Texas State (now Texas A&M University at Commerce), went in the fourth round, 104th overall. The Steelers found the final piece, Ernie Holmes, at Texas Southern University, an HBCU, in the 8th round, 203rd overall. Nunn plaque: Steelers scout Bill Nunn Jr. helped the team find many of its late-round draft picks during the 1970s. A plaque with his name and face now hangs outside the draft room door. Those four men, cobbled together mostly from later rounds, went on to comprise what would become one of the most-famous NFL defensive lines in history. Even the Steelers' famed 1974 draft hinged on the team's later picks. That year, the team found four hall-of-famers with its first five choices: Lynn Swann, in the first round, 21st overall; Jack Lambert, in the second round, 46th; John Stallworth, fourth round, 82nd; and Mike Webster, fifth round, 125th. After the draft ended that year, the Steelers picked up Donnie Shell, an undrafted free agent from South Carolina State, another HBCU. He nearly missed having a shot at the NFL but ended up playing in five Pro Bowls and winning four championships.   This blog has been brought to you by CPG News and Information Services


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Jordan Spieth’s Masters Collapse Not a Sports First nor will it be a Last

Spieth’s collapse at this year’s Masters has been rated by some reporters as one of the worst collapses in golf history. But collapses in sport are not uncommon. It's not a sports first nor will it be a last. They do occur and will continue to occur. For every loser, there is a winner and fans love to see come from behind victories. You may even say that this phenomenon helps create the big salaries that we see in sports. Sport fans are constantly looking for the unexpected and it’s probably one reason that sport draws big numbers in TV ratings and at live events. But for the athlete that is having a meltdown, we have to look at what causes this collapse. Quite often it’s a mental thing. For some reason, they cannot stop a downward trend. How can they play great one minute and then totally lose it for the rest of a game? From my book, The Last 9 Seconds, I spend some time helping coaches work with their athletes to stop this meltdown by providing some simple psychological ideas. Here is an excerpt. I recall a similar collapse while I was watching the 2005 Women’s Australian Open tennis final between Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams . Davenport was ahead 1 set to 0 against Serena Williams and ahead halfway through the second set. Davenport had the opportunity to break Serena Williams and take a commanding lead in the second set. She had 7 break points and numerous opportunities to win one of the games in the second set. She failed. Shortly afterwards, in the next game, Davenport had Serena Williams at 40/love but missed a simple shot that should have put the game away and tied the set at 4 games apiece. After that miss, the game, set, and match were practically over. You could see it in her body language and reaction. I remember saying to myself after that miss, “it’s over, and she’s given up unless she composes herself”. She proceeded to lose total composure after that miss and lost that game ending it with a double fault. She then lost again to lose the second set. In the third set Williams won 6-0 and won 2 sets to 1 to claim the Australian Open Women’s title. She was unable to mentally overcome her errors and she broke down so quickly it was sad to see such an even match turn so one-sided in such a short time. Eliminate errors and you will be more successful The key to victory or success in any individual sport comes down to eliminating errors. The golfer who gets a hole-in-one and then a triple bogey the next three holes will not win the competition too often, if at all. The tennis player who misses and easy shot has to be mentally strong enough to overcome a mistake and focus on the next shot. Tennis player Roger Federer has an amazing ability to stay focused, eliminate errors, and stay consistent without being too flashy to get the job done. Former number one ranked men’s tennis player in the world, Roger Federer said that after years of playing tennis he has found peace on the court. He used to be “wild’ on the court before becoming “number one” because he’d get frustrated: “Now I can handle it. If I miss shots, I say, ‘Okay, I hope the next one goes better’. So I can just always see something positive in my game”. When I lecture to athletes I say, “ DO NOT let the past affect the future in a negative way. If anything, make it a positive thing. Ask yourself to control the emotions that you have racing through your mind when you make a mistake. You can simply re-focus by telling yourself to calm down and do the simple things right as you have done all game. Analyze what went wrong quickly and tell yourself that you know how to fix it. The key is that you know what you will do next time when a similar situation presents itself. What you need to do is be thrilled with the fact you are playing a sport you love to play and be excited for your next chance. You will be happy being where you are. Do not worry about the people watching. You can do nothing about what happened. Just get excited about what can happen when you do better later because you will be more focused.” Federer worked with sport psychologists to stay at the top of his game. Overcoming mistakes is huge and is something you have to learn to deal with to get to the top. It will happen to the best but the best will bounce back from any breakdown and stay towards the top for a long time. Those who cannot deal with adversity will disappear off the spotlight. Tiger Woods learned to stay focused and forget about bad holes early in his career. I’m sure Jordan Spieth will bounce back. Time will tell. John DeBenedictis is author of The Last 9 Seconds: A Psychological Perspective http://www.cardinalpub.com/store/last-9-seconds-2/?add-to-cart=1157  This blog is brought to you by CPG News and Information


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The Dark Side of Sports

Every month, a minimum of 10 new cases of alleged sexual assault or abuse involving athletes or coaches are made public, shocking the communities in which they occur and illuminating a growing threat to our sons and daughters. As a former high school, collegiate, and professional athlete and coach, I was aware of many behaviors that soiled the sports world long before I studied this subject matter formally in my doctoral program. Such observations were not mine alone because many athletes I spoke to, including those I formally interviewed, discussed similar incidents along with their desire to expose these negative practices in order to help “clean-up” the athlete culture. Raising awareness, promoting leadership, and addressing harmful practices in order to prevent or stop them were underlying motives for writing my book, The Dark Side of Sports: Exposing the Sexual Culture of Collegiate and Professional Athletes. The book’s title could have easily included high school athletes as well because every type of sexual deviancy and aggression that flourished at the collegiate and professional levels was also found among high school athletes. This is a strong message for parents who have young athletes as well as daughters that can be victimized by high school level competitors; other athletes learn to become aggressors and perpetrators while playing on certain high school teams and still living in their parents’ houses. While most of this information is certain to shock and provide a wake-up call for those in and outside of the sports world, it also provides an opportunity to prevent and end an array of harmful practices that have been flourishing for decades without attention. For these reasons, I provide important messages not only for athletes, coaches, administrators, and sports enthusiasts, but also for parents of athletes and young women, who are impacted by an array of toxic behaviors beginning in high school. These alarming incidents raise questions about underlying causes and different types of sexual deviancy that silently thrive within insulated athletic teams, starting in high school. As a result, I discuss: Different types of sexual deviancy and aggression flourishing at all levels of sports, which can include: 1). Unbridled promiscuity, cheating, and juggling of females. 2). Group and video voyeurism, homemade pornography, and exhibitionism. 3). Group sex, sexual assault, and gang rape. How athletes target young women…and sometimes each other, and how pedophile coaches target young athletes. This can involve: 1). Elaborate sexual contests and competitions targeting as many young females as possible. 2). Sexualized hazing and initiation practices targeting teammates. 3). Different ways that pedophile coaches groom young athletes for sexually abusive purposes. What parents and coaches need to know about athletes’ sexual behaviors, motives, and consequences. 1). Sexually deviant and aggressive behaviors, including the use of pornography, prostitutes, and strip clubs, can be deeply imbedded and rampant within certain athletic teams and cultures. 2). Sexual deviancy and aggression involve multidimensional factors, including athlete privilege, peer pressure, and alcohol abuse, which converge to enable these practices. 3). Ignoring and/or providing little or no consequences are poor and unacceptable disciplinary practices which essentially give a “green light” for these behaviors not only to continue but to thrive as well. How to prevent deviant practices from gaining a stronghold within athletic teams, while promoting personal and team excellence in the process. This can include: 1). Identifying and discussing the negative practices occurring within different athlete cultures, such as promoting sex in the recruiting process. 2). Encouraging excellence outside of sports in all areas of life and in multiple aspects of the self. 3). Knowing that sports attract sexual offenders means educating athletes about difficult issues such as proper vs. improper touch, safe Internet use, and predator traits, characteristics, and consequences. As a popular form of recreation and entertainment, sports can provide an array of positive experiences that many people and families remember fondly throughout their lives. This makes the task of keeping our sporting environments safe while cleaning up the athletic world one team at a time a very noble and worthwhile pursuit. In order to accomplish this, everyone must work together to protect our athletes and children from predators that use sports as a platform to victimize others. Until these dangers and practices are eliminated completely from the athletic world, this work must continue indefinitely from one generation to the next while extending into other environments that go beyond sports. CREDENTIALS: Nick Pappas, Ph.D., LPC, NCC, is a former collegiate and professional hockey player and coach with a doctorate in Human Development and Family Science with an emphasis in Sociology of Sport from The Ohio State University. This unique background, in combination with experience as a professional counselor, personal and athletic life coach, motivational speaker, and college professor provides Dr. Pappas with a distinct insider perspective highlighted in his groundbreaking book, THE DARK SIDE OF SPORTS: EXPOSING THE SEXUAL CULTURE OF COLLEGIATE AND PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES, the result of interviews with 142 collegiate and professional athletes. Dr. Pappas is available in Michigan and nationwide by arrangement. You can contact him by phone:  (231) 676-4067 (MI); through his website: www.DrNickPappas.com; or via email: nick@drnickpappas.com


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