Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘sports

NINE – OH!

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Nothing else matters. The euphoria of a team victory in sports is great. Nine of them in a row, some of which were unlikely, starts to get pretty crazy. Especially when a fan-base, a state, haven’t witnessed such a feat in 115 years, …so, not in our lifetimes.

Way to go, GOPHERS!

 

Hee-hee. Minnesota is partying like its 1904!

I’ve attended a lot of University of Minnesota Gopher football games in my life, starting when I was a kid and my dad would take me to sit on the wooden bench seats of Memorial Stadium in the 1970s. Those season tickets were by the aisle to the press box above us, near where Minnesota Twins baseball great, Bob Allison had seats, so press guys would always pause on their way up to exchange pleasantries.

I suffered through the years when Gopher football games were moved off campus to the echo canyon of the Metrodome, including several when our daughter, Elysa, performed in the drumline of the marching band.

Eventually, the annually increasing expense of four season tickets exceeded our budget and we let them go. I remember how reluctantly the University accepted our decision. They checked thoroughly to confirm our choice to give up our seniority since the seats we held were associated with the original ones my dad first purchased in 1944.

I never even attended a class at the school, but it is the University of MINNESOTA! Our kids learned the words to the school fight song before they knew what it was. The university and its athletes represent the entire state. I am a big fan of all Gopher sports, football most of all.

We’ve endured a lot of coaches and coaching styles in the revolving door that has been Gopher football. P.J. Fleck has brought his boat-rowing meme to town as the latest rendition. So far, so good.

I don’t get to watch many games anymore, because we don’t have cable tv, and historically, Gopher football hasn’t risen to enough significance to earn broadcast on the airwave networks. That made yesterday’s matchup of two undefeated B1G teams (the oldest Division 1 collegiate athletic conference in the United States) extra special for me. From the first interception to the last, and every amazing catch, run, defended pass, or penalty-free play in between, I watched with awestruck amazement.

I’m inordinately proud of the accomplishments of the team this year. We deserve to party like it’s 1904!

Ski-U-Mah!

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No Ropes

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No nets, no map, no ropes, no guarantees. I saved the rented movie, “Free Solo” for Cyndie to see when she got home and I watched it again last night so we could experience the fascinating drama together. It is really a moving portrait of multiple levels of the story about Alex Honnold’s quest to climb El Capitan without ropes.

I’m left with a vivid impression of how the uncertainty dramatically exposed by climbing deadly heights without ropes is present to varying degrees in every moment of our lives. The deadly risks may not be so intense, but the uncertainty is, whether we realize it, or not.

Humans make our plans and celebrate when things go right, but things go wrong just as easily.

I think sports competition for entertainment taps into a relatively safe dance with that uncertainty. Both sides might plan to succeed, but there will always be something to foil the best-laid plans of one of the teams or individuals involved. We, as spectators, can live vicariously through the drama and for a time escape the real-life uncertainties about the outcome of our plans for tomorrow.

Will I make it to work on time? Will the weather be a problem? Will there be a surprise test?

No guarantee, except for the uncertainty. That’s inherent.

A tire could blow out. An unexpected storm could pop up. And, yes, there might be a test. You can use your notes.

I don’t know what we are going to do next with Wintervale Ranch. When this all started, we had a plan, but only a vague map, no ropes, a small net, and definitely no guarantees.

We were free soloing.

The future is uncertain, but the possibilities are enticing.

Watching the documentary of Alex Honnold’s dramatic success at the high-risk endeavor of climbing about 3000 feet (900 m) without ropes to save him if he falls was very inspiring.

We are energized for exploring new opportunities in the year ahead and feeling a heightened awareness of the uncertainties we navigate every day. Since they are always present, it makes sense to fortify our abilities to accept, adapt, and respond to whatever comes our way.

Given a comparison to clinging to a sheer rock face thousands of feet off the ground, coping with our challenges at ground level seems almost harmless.

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Written by johnwhays

September 17, 2019 at 6:00 am

Still Thrilled

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Is it too late to still be thrilling over the US Women’s National Team victory on Sunday in France? I am really proud of their teamwork and stamina; their confidence and sense of fun; their bravery and demand for respect (equal pay!); and the way they melded their individual strengths and personalities into such an effective cohesive unit, to dominate on the world’s largest stage.

There is so much well-deserved press available on their accomplishment, I can’t really add anything that isn’t already being said. Instead, I’ve grabbed a couple images and article links to share here for those of you who may not have followed close enough to notice…

Check these out:

Opinion: The World Cup might be over, but we aren’t nearly done with USWNT’s stars

Christine Brennan, USA TODAY

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Rose Lavelle Dribbled Her Way Into World Cup Immortality

Luis Paez-Pumar, Deadspin.

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I dream of someday being able to display a similar cool, collected confidence like Megan Rapinoe radiated in the seconds before she converted that penalty shot in the 61st minute of the World Cup title match.

I will always remember the awe I felt when Rose Lavelle deftly read the instant the defender in front of her turned her back, immediately stepping to the other side and without hesitation, releasing that powerful strike on goal just out of reach of the incredible goalkeeper for the Netherlands to give us the breathing room of a two-goal lead.

U.S.A.! U.S.A.! Equal pay! Equal pay!

I’m definitely still thrilled.

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Written by johnwhays

July 9, 2019 at 6:00 am

Soccer Again

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Yesterday, Elysa and I got to see the US Women’s soccer team in a friendly match against Switzerland at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

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Once again, we took the light rail train from her neighborhood to the stadium. My vague plan worked out perfectly and we entered the correct gate of the facility to put us directly at our section. For this game, I selected seating on the opposite side of the field from where we sat for the International Champions Cup match back in August.

These seats were also located a lot closer to the field. It was great to be able to hear the chatter from the players as they directed each other during play.

Unfortunately, whatever was used in attempt to mask the NFL markings on the field made for a rather ugly backdrop, but once the action started, I didn’t have a problem ignoring that.

I have very limited knowledge about our national team, and absolutely none about the Swiss, but quickly discovered Switzerland is pretty good. They played smart and executed very well, jumping out to a 1-0 lead and dominating play while putting us on our heels.dscn5354e

The US was able to tie it up after a smashing goal by none other than Carli Loyd before the half was over.

I don’t know what happened at halftime, but the second half performance by the US side was completely different. We dominated play and scored a variety of nice goals, winning the game by a pretty dominating score of 5-1.

It wasn’t until I got home after the game that I read that these two teams had already met in a match held earlier in the week. The US won that one as well, 4-0, so maybe the home team was just playing a little too overconfident during the first half of this game.

Maybe the best thing about the match for me was that it kept me from being able to witness the sad performance by the NFL Vikings in their first loss of the season. Those are just the kinds of games that make me want to stop watching the home team altogether.

A bad game in any team sport is so much easier to watch when it is not my home team that’s stinkin’ up the place.

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Written by johnwhays

October 24, 2016 at 6:00 am

Two Articles

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If you wait long enough, things tend to come around again. I’m not just talking about music and fashion, either. An unending onslaught of studies, some more scientific than others, seem to appear with regularity in headlines for bringing ever-changing perspectives to the forefront.

KevinSmithWeightLossI spotted a bit of celebrity talk on my news feed yesterday, but what caught my attention about it was the reference to ‘sugar-free’ and the film, “Fed Up.” In this case, it supported exactly what I am currently experiencing and it felt very affirming. Filmmaker Kevin Smith has dropped significant weight after experiencing the same insights I did upon watching the documentary about how sugar is contributing to today’s health woes.

The old targets of scorn in the American diet were at one time fat and cholesterol, and maybe that will come back into the limelight again before the end of time, but my present battle is with sugar. It used to be that I shouldn’t eat eggs. I am so happy to have eggs safely back on my menu these days.

Years ago, sugar was considered a bit of an extravagance, but then it became something added to almost every processed food, and our national palate adjusted to the point of expecting sweetness in everything.

I plan to ride the reduced sugar band wagon for as long as I can hold out, figuring the next wave of food information will come along well after I have made peace with my addiction.

The second article that showed up for me yesterday hit on a subject near and dear to me for decades of athletic endeavors. I am a big proponent of optimal hydration, but like everything, there is a critical balance that should be maintained. Yes, I’ve heard the scary threats that you can die from drinking too much water. That has never been a concern for me. However, I have long adhered to the advice that waiting until you notice feeling thirsty puts you behind the curve of maintaining optimal hydration.

I also tend to use the clarity of my urine output as a gauge of desired hydration. Both beliefs are now being challenged by an article on Critical Journal of Sport Medicine.

“In all cases, blanket statements that can be found on the internet such as “don’t wait until you feel thirsty” make little sense for the majority of casual athletes”Preventing Deaths Due to Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia: The 2015 Consensus Guidelines, Mitchell H. Rosner, MD

At this point, what I intend to take from my limited understanding of the clinical verbiage and specific qualifiers for the science the article intends to express, is that I will try not to be overly confident going forward, about my level of understanding of optimal hydration. I plan to continue to rely on my intuition and the results I experience with regard to what is right for me.

Your mileage may vary.

But back to the sugar thing, I invite you to spend a day tracking how much you REALLY consume in a 24-hour period, then see if it seems right to you. I may not comprehend all the clinical details, but my intuition tells me there is definitely something problematic with the current American high-sugar diet.

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Written by johnwhays

July 1, 2015 at 6:00 am

Sports Spectating

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There was a big sports championship waged yesterday in the U.S., ending the National Football League season for another year. Congratulations to the fans of the Baltimore Ravens.

American football is a team sport, 11 vs. 11. Each play is a battle of eleven different 1-on-1 competitions. I think that is what provides much of the intrigue of our game.

When it comes to players on offense trying to execute a block, all they need to do is occupy the person to whom they are assigned, for the brief moment of play. Sometimes, it can be as simple as getting positioned between the defender and the ball carrier. The offensive team knows where the play is intended to go, so it would seem they have the advantage.

The defensive players are tasked with needing to quickly deduce what is happening, fight off or avoid the block, and then make a play for the ball.

Many of the individual match-ups on any given play, could probably be judged a draw. Then it comes down to a player who can be either a hero, or a goat, which may produce a gain, or loss, of particular significance.

For as slow as the actual 60-minutes of play-clock takes to run (games take around 3 hours), there is a lot of action that happens in each short burst. It is a pleasant distraction from the real world, while it lasts.

Now that we have arrived at the NFL off-season, I can return my discretionary attention to things that actually matter.

As if. I do still have the sport of hockey for frivolous entertainment, you realize. Yes, the truth is, I’m rather hopeless when it comes to the distractions of spectator sports.

Written by johnwhays

February 4, 2013 at 7:00 am

Contests

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Words on Images

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July 31, 2012 at 7:00 am

Olympic Appreciation

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After the first weekend of Olympic competition, and my extensive hours of viewing, I have these thoughts:

There are plenty of days when I wish we relied a bit less on technology, but as an avid sports spectator, I am forever grateful for the innovation of super slow motion.

At the same time, I find it can really distort our judgement of performance. It makes actions which are at the limits of physically possible, appear reasonable. It makes hundredths of a second seem like a large interval for victory.

The one thing that super slow motion does not need to be used for, is coverage of parents trying to watch (or not watch) their children’s performance. The tension the parents reveal is painful to witness.

I think the strongest trait that comes through in Olympic competition is not the athlete’s physical prowess, even though it is of the highest caliber, but their mental toughness. In every single event, there is a level of intensity that presents itself, that would crush most of us mortals. Every time the athletes succeed, it is a demonstration of the best combination of mind/body accomplishment. When it is a team success, I think it is even more impressive. It becomes a demonstration of mind/body prowess, and the best of human cooperation.

Seeing the best people, perform to their best abilities, is a gift to behold, and in no small way gives a glimpse of the untapped human potential available within all of us.

Written by johnwhays

July 30, 2012 at 7:00 am

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Talking leTour

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My favorite pastime in July is watching the television coverage of the Tour de France bike race. My days at work right now are long and very busy. I have been arriving home exhausted. Then, I turn on the prime-time re-broadcast of the day’s stage of the race and I watch guys whose work makes my exhaustion seem insignificant. Yikes, they have endurance!

Thomas Voeckler impresses the heck out of me, and makes funny faces while he is working hard on the pedals. He is demonstrating some amazing climbing and accomplished a couple of stage wins. Bravo! Stole the polka dot jersey yesterday.

Frank Schleck sited for a banned substance?! I’m amazed riders still do anything to risk disqualification. He denies doping.

Cadel Evans didn’t have the legs this year. It’s tough to watch the big competitors not being able to muster what it takes to stay on pace, let alone the pity when they can’t offer up a true threat of attack. He drops to 7th place, eight-some minutes back.

Bradley Wiggins seems to have a firm control of his lead. He’s bringing out a big number of British fans and Union Jack flags everywhere! Could be the first British rider to capture the Tour.

George Hincapie is still riding like he’s a young kid, though he’s not.

I like Frenchman, Thibaut Pinot, and Slovak, Peter Sagan, of the young riders putting in impressive performances this year.

Sagan has stolen some of the thunder from my previous favorite sprinter, Mark Cavendish, as Cav has been putting the success of Wiggins and team Sky ahead of personal ambitions. There is still hope for some excitement in the final day’s sprint in Paris, where Cavendish has won the last three years. He would sure like to make it 4 in a row. I’m confident he will have the full support of the team to get into position for a shot at that goal.

After an evening devouring the coverage of each day’s stage, I feel a lot less fatigued by the demands of my Tour de Day-Job.

I wish the coverage didn’t have to end, but this year, I’ll have the London Olympics to fill in the void that follows. No rest for the weary, don’tcha know.

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July 19, 2012 at 7:00 am

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Delicate Attempt

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The results are in, and in my opinion, my performance at yesterday morning’s soccer [futsal] game was a mixture of success and failure. But that is a good thing. It would have been a surprise if it turned out to be just a smashing success. What would that be like, anyway; that I could play just fine with no pain? No, that would fool me into thinking I could go back to my old routine, and all indications point to that being a counterproductive plan of action.

I definitely felt some impairment due to the discomfort of my degenerative disc disease. However, that made it easier to remain very conscious of my situation and helped me to purposefully control my stride. I think I did a pretty good job of running with a very smooth gate, light on my feet, as opposed to the usual pounding I am prone to do. If that made me slower, I was compensating for it a bit by making early decisions about where I was going to go. I headed back into a defensive position much quicker than I would have previously.

That is actually a very smart mindset for me to get into, because now that I think of it, the clomping back to help on defense that I used to do, most often involved me chasing an opponent from behind, too late to do any good.

Although I believe it was entirely serendipitous, one of the successes I enjoyed was scoring goals! I’m generally not a very prolific goal scorer, but I had 4 really good goals that came from being fed beautiful passes when I was positioned on the far side of the net. It provided a nice reward and a feeling that I contributed something positive for having shown up. I think it would be a stretch to say that the attempt to soften my effort for this indoor game was responsible for the uncharacteristic increase in scoring prowess, but the goals sure served to sweeten the morning’s effort for me.

One of the failures of my attempt to play at a slower pace, with less physical impact, was turning the ball over when I had plenty of time to make a decision and execute a play. I just didn’t have my usual touch. Several times, the ball just got lost in my feet. One time, I actually swung to kick, and missed the ball. I was trying to shift my weight and keep my eyes up, and by the time I kicked, the ball had moved. Two times in particular, my turnover led to an immediate goal by the other team.

Another time, I misplayed an attempt to block a shot and it deflected off me, directly into our net. I wondered aloud if that was “a Hays,” because it led to the 5th and winning goal for the opponents, but players assured me it fell outside of the ‘own goal’ act associated with that label. I offered an opinion that it might deserve to be a sub-category.

It was a morning of mixed results, which I am taking as a promising outcome, overall.

Written by johnwhays

March 13, 2012 at 7:00 am