Monday, August 31, 2009

All Must Have Prizes

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2009 at 9:30 AM

When little kids play sports they get "participation awards" to soothe their tender egos (and their parents). Not to be outdone, parents who compete get "skill level" and "age level" awards to, well, soothe their tender egos.

In racquet sports, running, swimming, and Senior Olympics, we have seniors, super seniors, masters, grand masters, golden, silver, over 40, over 50, over 60, over 75 — more divisions than Ford Motor Company has cars. Such is the nature of lifetime sports. In Atlanta this weekend, I found that I could probably play varsity college squash, albeit for the women's team. And I can still beat most men, providing they are over 60 years old. The bad news is that I am cannon fodder for younger players.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

At 46, He's Older and Better

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2009 at 3:55 PM

By rights, Donny Flowers should not be a tennis teaching pro.

He didn't play tennis in high school or college, and didn't play much at all until he was 25 years old. His first NTRP rating was 3.5, roughly the equivalent of a 20 handicap in golf or a 6-minute mile. He's 5'8" tall and weighs 150 pounds and the only way his serve will top 120 miles an hour is if he counts both of them. At 46 and married with two kids, he still looks about 17. Half the hackers in Memphis can remember beating him 20 years ago.

So what's he doing as the U.S.P.T.A. pro — that means certified — at Memphis Country Club and now Tunica National Golf and Tennis? The answer has to do with ping pong, hard work, hard knocks, getting better as you get older, and helium balloons. And being nice, don't ever forget nice.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

On Ambidexterity and Multidexterity

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2009 at 11:06 AM

The New York Times has a story today about Don Mueller, a professor in New York who plays tennis with two racquets, one in each hand. Publicity aside, I don't think two-racquet tennis will catch on. But ambidexterity, on the other hand, can be an advantage in racquet sports. And multidexterity — being highly skilled in several racquet sports — even has its own event called Racketlon.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

How UM and Cal Could Make Amends

Posted By on Fri, Aug 21, 2009 at 11:35 AM

In the unlikely event that the University of Memphis successfully claws back some of the loot that was bagged by former basketball coach John Calipari before the 2007-2008 team was stripped of its wins, it should plow the money back into sports.

Club sports and intramurals, that is. Do something for the 19,800 students who are possibly somewhat athletic but are not "student athletes."

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Spousal Abuse

Posted By on Wed, Aug 19, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Should you play sports with your spouse? Only if you believe in marriage, although not necessarily with the person to whom you are currently married.

The combination of sweat, shorts, tan legs, competition, road trips and alcoholic beverages is a recipe for something, and it isn't marital harmony.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Olympic Sports: Do You Care?

Posted By on Tue, Aug 18, 2009 at 2:15 PM

So women's boxing, rugby, and golf will become Olympic sports, and baseball, karate, roller sports, softball, and squash won't. That's how the International Olympic Committee's sports pickers voted last week.

Golf, already overexposed, will get even more exposure. Rugby will get some of the attention in America that it already gets in Europe and Australia. And women's boxing — well, the Tunica casinos were on the leading edge once again.

Now the question is, does anyone care? One of the arguments for including new sports in the Olympics is that coverage of elite athletes will boost participation in general. But I'm not so sure.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

This White Boy Could Jump

Posted By on Mon, Aug 17, 2009 at 9:27 AM


Some time in 1963, Steve Keltner realized he could fly.

He was 16 years old that year. He was certainly not muscular or exceptionally coordinated. Years later, his friends would still kid him about his inability to catch a football. But on the track at Memphis University School or at the Mid-South Fairgrounds, he was a running and jumping fool. He leaped 20 feet that year in the long jump without much training or technique, just barreling down the runway, slamming that last step on the board and taking off, arms and legs windmilling through the air, flying over the sand pit and landing two or three feet farther than anyone else.

In his senior year he jumped 23 feet 6 inches, which was a local and state record. MUS is a wealthy private school with some of the best coaches and facilities in Memphis. It attracts more than its share of athletes who go on to play varsity sports in college. Records are routinely broken as 18-year-olds train harder, lift longer, and specialize in one sport from the time they are eight or nine years old. Forty-four years later, Keltner still holds the school record in the long jump. His 23-6 in 1965 would have won the 2009 Tennessee State Division II championship by almost two feet.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

"The King" of Memphis Wrestling Books

Posted By on Fri, Aug 14, 2009 at 3:09 PM

Ron Hall's new book Sputnik, Masked Men, and Midgets: The Early Days of Memphis Wrestling, is one of the best collections of black and white sports photos I've ever seen and a hell of a lot of fun.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Group Training

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2009 at 9:51 AM

Can 53 couch potatoes training together for eight weeks run a four-mile race at the Cooper Young Festival in September?

Or by the end of August will some of them be dropping like flies in the heat and unable or unwilling to make it to the starting line on race day? At least that's what I'm betting the woman who trains them, Star Ritchey, who says group training, positive thinking, and incremental goals will get them all there.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Free: The 84-Step Fitness Plan

Posted By on Tue, Aug 11, 2009 at 3:23 PM


You don't have to join a fitness club to get in great shape.

There's the mother of all Memphis "stairmasters" on the south bluff across from Tom Lee Park that helps urban athletes like Liza Levin (see photo) stay buff. And it doesn't cost a cent.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Healthy Debate or Cheap Shot?

Posted By on Mon, Aug 10, 2009 at 10:57 AM

Should it be off limits to write about a public figure’s weight battle?

“Kick ‘em while they’re up,” is a good rule of journalism, blogging included.

I’m not sure if Myron Lowery is up or down, but I figured writing about his weight would draw fire.

On the one hand, he’s up because he is the new mayor, if only the longest-serving interim mayor in recent history. On the other hand, he’s had a rough first week, and in the opinion of some friends and foes, didn’t need what they saw as piling on.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Messing with Rules and Equipment

Posted By on Sat, Aug 8, 2009 at 7:08 PM

In sports as in medicine, first do no harm. Equipment manufacturers and rules makers mess with sports at peril of fundamentally changing the games we play.

Swimming is the latest but not the only recent example.

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When to go to Cortisone?

Posted By on Sat, Aug 8, 2009 at 3:41 PM

When should you get a cortisone shot for aching joints so you can keep playing sports?

How long will the benefits last, and how long before you plan to compete should you take it?

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Can You Get Fit in 7 Minutes a Week?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 1:55 PM

Can you get fit in a minute or so a day, or seven to ten minutes a week?

The short answer, I would argue, is yes. And it involves no supplements, power shakes, club dues, or exercise equipment.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sports Boom or Sports Hype?

Posted By on Wed, Aug 5, 2009 at 11:15 AM

Tennis is booming. Skateboarding is booming. Lacrosse is booming. So are soccer, Ultimate Frisbee, cycling, rock-climbing, extreme kayaking, running, yoga, crew, ju-jitsu, and Pilates. Oh, and football and basketball are doing pretty good. And Americans of all ages are really getting in shape.

Except they're not. And we're not. At least not all sports and certainly not all Memphians.

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