Most Overused Word In Sports: Athlete


I sat watching College Football Saturday and kept hearing the same phrase used over and over again, “he’s an incredible athlete.” Sports announcers have always used colorful references and analogies to help paint an entertaining picture for sports fans. If you you can jump out of the gym and dunk you’re the next Michael Jordan. If you can run like the speed of light and jump like a gazelle you’re the next Jesse Owens. There will forever be inflated comparisons and expectations in sports, but one phrase I would like to see used sparingly is the term athlete.

World Class Athlete

World Class Athlete

As a marathoner, I can appreciate the time, dedication, and perseverance it takes to be a world class runner. Steve Prefontaine is a living legend here in Oregon, and if you go to the University of Oregon or Coos Bay you might as well call it Steve’s Shrine. I think one of the greatest signs of Prefontaine’s athletic ability was his VO2 max, a measure of the maximum volume of oxygen that an athlete can use. It is a measurable level of exercise intensity that an athlete’s consumption of oxygen reaches causing a plateau that cannot be increased. Prefontaine’s VO2 max was 84.4 while another world class athlete, Lance Armstrong, has a VO2 max of 84.0.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an athlete as:

a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina

I wont get into the debate of what is considered a sport or not, to determine who’s an athlete, but I will debate that we take this term too far.

Maybe it’s because I’m an avid College Football fan, but weekend in and weekend out we have sports announcers tagging players with the term athlete. An offensive lineman who gets burned time after time is an athlete, but he’s just going up against better competition. A linebacker who has a 100 yard interception for a touchdown needs oxygen to resuscitate themselves, but is an athlete. A quarterback who couldn’t run three yards for a first down to save his life is an athlete because he can fling the ball 50 yards for a touchdown.
I’ll probably never be able to bench 300 pounds, run a sub 4:00 mile, or jump 40 inches, but I still consider myself an athlete. The problem I have with the term athelte is we’re lumping a 6’8” 350 lbs lineman and a 5’8” 150 lbs runner together.

Another factor in the definition of athlete, or athletic movement, is age. 40 years old in basketball, football, or baseball is considered old and over the hill while in golf we put them in the ‘Senior Tour’. If you go to any local running events you’ll find the over 40 categories some of the most competitive at the event. I read about marathoners in their 90’s all the time and just pray that I can walk at that age. I think it’s a disservice to the ‘Masters’ division of sports to say they are not an athlete like a 20 year old.

If it’s not fair to say over 40 can’t be an athlete, it’s not fair to say someone overweight can’t be an athlete, and it’s not fair to say someone who can’t run isn’t an athlete then what is the true politically correct definition of an athlete? Age, flexibility, and VO2 Max are only factors in the degree of athlete you can become. The gray area has become too dark and I believe it’s time someone clear things up.

Does Anyone Care About Boxing Anymore?

This weekend Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto will square off against each other for the World Welterweight Championship. For Filipinos and Puerto Ricans this fight is about country pride and bragging rights. For general boxing fans it could be an absolute war. But for the general sports world does it mean anything?

Growing up, every weekend I would go down and spend the weekend with my Grandparents. My Grandfather is a huge boxing fan and as a result I would stay up and watch Friday Night Fights, HBO’s Boxing After Dark, and any other fight that was on during the weekend. I’m a boxing fan thanks to my Grandfather, but also because I can appreciate the training, skill, and intestinal fortitude it takes to box the hell out of another person.

At the same time I took Karate until Basketball and Soccer became my sporting passion. My favorite thing to do in Karate was spar. I remember the internal Dojo competition we had when I had to go up against one of the girls. I gave her a roundhouse kick to the head, knocking her down, and thus disqualifying me with a flurry of tears. My one and only big competition I did was the Rose City Nationals in Portland Oregon. All three-foot 50 pounds of me dripping wet entered my favorite event, sparring. My mother had to go buy me head gear and I had to borrow gloves and boots because I didn’t own any of the equipment. A few hours later I kicked and punched my way to winning the Peewee sparring championship.

1st Place in Sparring at the Rose City Nationals August 13, 1994

1st Place in Sparring at the Rose City Nationals August 13, 1994

It’s still the main piece on my athletic award box shelf in my room, yet I’ve never had the desire to get back into it.

I’ve watched the UFC and MMA before and it flat out doesn’t interest me. Honestly, I find the majority of MMA fights boring to pieces while the lucky few are over in less than a minute. Yet for whatever reason, maybe it’s simply marketing, Dana White has made UFC relevant and boxing less relevant with each passing year.

Floyd Mayweather Jr., in my opinion, is one of the greatest athletes in the world. He is pound for pound the best boxer in the world, yet MMA fans probably have no idea who he is. Last time I checked, Boxing is an Olympic sport and MMA is not. Boxers can make ten times the amount of money an MMA fighter can make. Boxing is the essence of survival.

Without any studies, or scientific evidence to back up my conclusions, I’m left simply to believe that it’s a generational thing. Earlier generations like simplicity, challenges, and delayed gratification. Later generations like multitasking, anything that makes life easier, and they want everything instantly. Now I can’t say I’m not a fan of innovation and I do appreciate the resources technological advancements have given us, but I have an old school mentality for the fact I appreciate the journey as much as the result. While I may want everything now I understand that time matures wine and people. Which is also why I believe that boxing is dying and MMA is florishing.

Boxing can go for 12 rounds, in Championship fights, while MMA is only five rounds. Boxing has a southpaw or righty, while MMA has potentially 12 different styles. Boxing is about tactfully knocking out your opponent, while MMA is about knocking your opponent into oblivion as fast as possible.

It saddens me to see Boxing slowly dying, but just like the Gameboy all good things eventually come to an end.

Referees Support The Cause With Uniforms

refereeReferees are criticized on a game to game basis, but one thing is clear, you cannot criticize the support they have shown of late. For every uniform that’s updated with poor taste (i.e. NFL Referees uniforms) an alteration is made in support of a cause (i.e. Pac-10 Referees prostate cancer support sleeve). There are several websites on the net that look at uniforms like the uniform obsessive Paul Lukas, but I haven’t found anyone examining exclusively what the referees are wearing. Below is a look at some of the referee uniform alterations should have been kept off the field along with the alterations that should be applauded.

NFL Referee Uniforms


I realize that we’re paying tribute to the old AFL Referees, but some things were better left in the past. As if the NFL Referees don’t have a hard enough time convincing coaches, players. and fans their credible. The new orange on white NFL Referee uniforms make me cringe every time I see them.

Enough with the bad. Lets take a look at some of the causes referees are supporting with their uniforms.

Pac-10 Referees Support Prostate Cancer Awareness


Yes that blue shooter sleeve that the Pac-10 Referees wore this weekend was to show their support for prostate cancer awareness. This was done exclusively by the Pac-10 this weekend and was worn by the crews on all five of the Pac-10 conference games this Saturday.

Women’s Basketball Referees Support Breast Cancer Awareness


Those pink whistles being worn by Women’s Basketball Referees is to show their support for breast cancer awareness.

MLB Umpires Support Breast Cancer Awareness Too


Just like the Women’s Basketball Referees wearing their pink whistles, MLB Umpires have worn the pink wristbands for breast cancer awareness and also for Mother’s Day.

MLB Umpires Support Fathers on Fathers Day


Initially I thought the blue wristbands were worn to show support for prostate cancer also, or maybe Viagra was a sponsor for a day. Instead the blue wristbands were worn by MLB Umpires in support of Father’s Day.

Richest Day in Betting – The 2009 Breeders Cup

breeders-cupThe betting world will hold its breath for two minutes or less eight times as horse racing enthusiasts celebrate the World Championships today, The 2009 Breeders’ Cup. $17 million in purse money will be given out to the winners on the dirt and turf. The Breeders’ Cup Classic is the granddaddy of them all pitting the notable Mine That Bird, Colonel John, and Summer Bird against a field of thirteen, with current 5/2 favorite Zenyatta, competing for the $5 million purse.

As reported back in May, the 2009 Kentucky Derby utilized social media to bring exclusive coverage to the horse racing world. The Breeders’ Cup is no different featuring a Facebook Page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel. Of course there is a slew of bloggers on site to bring you the inside scoop including one of my favorites ESPN’s Randy Moss. Make sure you sign up for the Daily Racing Form’s free membership to get all the news and information you need to be in the winnings.

The fun starts at 1:30 PM ET on ABC before moving over for the big races on ESPN at 3:30 PM ET.  So get out your racing form and start making your picks. The 2009 Breeders’ Cup is sure to be another wild ride.

2009 Kentucky Derby: Social Media Used For Betting

The first Saturday in May can only mean one thing, the Kentucky Derby. Like The Masters, the Kentucky Derby is a tradition that pulsates across the world. From the start of January trainers begin training their horses with the hopes of making a trip to Churchill Downs. In a matter of two minutes it’s over. The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the Triple Crown that is rich with history and tradition. Next to March Madness and the Super Bowl the Kentucky Derby is one of the biggest betting days in the world. The Kentucky Derby has implemented several new outlets and is really flexing their social media muscles this year.

Kentucky Derby Social Media Efforts

The Kentucky Derby is utilizing blogs, Twitter, and Facebook to ensure they bring the best coverage, insight, and analysis to the fans of the sport. Justin Dew and Caroline Smith give a great one two punch for Kentucky Derby blogging. Justin focuses on the racing and betting, with posts like one line for pie, while Caroline focuses on the fashion and entertainment with the ladies first initiative. The Kentucky Derby official Facebook page provides a great source of news, interaction, and an awesome array of fan photos. Jeremy Borseth is holding down the fort with the Kentucky Derby Twitter account with all the insight you could possibly want from a track side perspective.

Kentucky Derby Odds

The Kentucky Derby betting scene is unlike anything I’ve seen. My Dad usually study’s his Daily Racing Form, watches replays of the prep races on TVG, and hears more expert analysis than anyone should be subjected to. It all comes down to picking one of the horses in the list below:

Horse Morning line Jockey Trainer Draw Earnings
Advice 30-1 Rene Douglas Todd Pletcher 4 $261,885
Atomic Rain 30-1 Joe Bravo Kelly Breen 14 $77,500
Chocolate Candy 7-1 Mike Smith Jerry Hollendorfer 11 $532,500
Desert Party 12-1 Ramon Dominguez Saeed bin Suroor 19 $688,467
Dunkirk 4-1 Edgar Prado Todd Pletcher 15 $193,200
Flying Private 30-1 Robby Albarado D. Wayne Lukas 20 $193,080
Friesan Fire 7-2 Gabriel Saez Larry Jones 6 $603,265
General Quarters 7-1 Julien Leparoux Thomas R. McCarthy 12 $641,735
Hold Me Back 12-1 Kent Desormeaux Bill Mott 5 $487,274
Join In The Dance 40-1 Chris DeCarlo Todd Pletcher 9 $90,000
Mine That Bird 40-1 Calvin Borel Bennie Wolley 8 $374,381
Mr. Hot Stuff 40-1 John Velazquez Eoin Harty 3 $150,560
Musket Man 25-1 Eibar Coa Derek Ryan 2 $572,600
Nowhere to Hide 40-1 Shaun Bridgmohan Nick Zito 18 $100,099
Papa Clem 12-1 Rafael Bejarano Gary Stute 7 $790,940
the Nile
9-2 Garrett Gomez Bob Baffert 16 $1,234,200
Regal Ransom 18-1 Alan Garcia Saeed bin Suroor 10 $1,297,200
Summer Bird 50-1 Chris Rosier Tim Ice 17 $123,040
West Side Bernie 30-1 Stewart Elliott Kelly Breen 20 $407,360

With so many forums, blogs, and tweets flying around it’s hard to funnel all of this information down into a bet. Second guessing is a given, but just like the NCAA tournament sometimes you just have to get lucky.

My Picks
Win: Dunkirk
Place: Hold Me Back
Show: Pioneerof the Nile

The Masters: Social Media For The Ages

Since 1934 the first weekend in April has been home to the magic and folklore of the Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters. Never before has this event utilized social media to the same precision as Phil Mickelson’s Masters record front nine. The combination of a social community, blogs, applications, photos, widgets, and games makes the 2009 Masters one for the ages.

The Masters took on a more interactive feel this year with the upgraded social media networking they implemented. The Masters Fanbook, Masters Photo Gallery, and Masters Facebook Page allowed fans to interact and collaborate like never before. The Masters Facebook Page was able to capture the golf fever housing 43,028 fans during the Masters play. The die hard Masters fans this year were able to enjoy up to the minute updates and news with the Masters Widget, Masters Mobile Applications, and Masters Twitter accounts. The Masters Twitter account become one of the most popular sports related Twitter accounts toping the weekend with an incredible 41,913 followers! Throw in the Masters Video and Masters Blogs and you have one of the most dynamically covered sporting events with the use of social media.

Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson made a run, but 2009 was the year for the collapse of Kenny Perry and the rise of the Angel Cabrera. The Masters ensured any an every fan could stay engaged Thursday through Sunday afternoon with their social media devices. Social media and the Masters, a tradition unlike any other.