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Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘sports illustrated’

Sunday musings 11/1/15

Sunday musings…

1) Fall Back. Needed that.

2) Pharoah. A champion goes out on top. Not a dry eye chez bingo. Google “Tim Layden” for a great review.

3) Jacket. The motorcycle jacket has been alternately called an iconic male look, and a caricature of masculinity. I do not own a motorcycle jacket. Am I somehow not masculine, or am I subtly making a statement about inclusivity?

Or do I just look stupid in a leather motorcycle jacket?

4) ACL. There is a veritable epidemic of non-contact ACL tears among young female athletes. Unlike concussions in young male athletes, the collective response from media sources of all kinds to this: crickets. Also absent, any hint of a change in how girls are training for their sports.

Why is that? How is that OK?

5) Relative. “Constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity.” What exactly does that mean? For whom does this apply? I’ve been perusing the programming of some CrossFit Affiliate (and a couple of recently de-affiliated gyms still programming CrossFit-type WODs), watching videos and looking at pics of their athletes, and it looks like there’s a bit of confusion out there.

The “relative” in that definition of CrossFit speaks to the universal scaleability of the physical part of the CrossFit prescription. Load can be moved up or down. Duration can be increased or decreased. Movements that maintain the desired stimulus of the posted WOD can be substituted where a particular skill has yet to be acquired. Intensity is relative to the individual athlete in question, and in the classic application of the CrossFit prescription it is only “high” after that athlete demonstrates mechanical proficiency on a consistent basis.

Watching last year’s Games and Regionals footage one of the things that impressed me was the tight correlation between the virtuosity of movement and the resulting work performed in the more accomplished athletes. One cannot help but notice at all levels of competition the movement flaws seen in athletes who could not sustain enough intensity to place highly in an event. If you go back in time and watch videos of the early days of CrossFit you are struck by the emphasis on proper mechanics as a vehicle to increased efficiency and therefore more work or power output. Form is the gateway to intensity.

At my Alma Mater there is a saying about teaching that goes like this: the perfect classroom is Mark Hopkins on one end of a log, and a student on the other. I always had that image when I watched videos of Coach at the original CrossFit Santa Cruz, when I read his earliest writings in the CFJ. You know, the perfect gym is Greg Glassman on one side of a barbell and a CrossFitter on the other. CrossFit, at least the CrossFit I learned from Coach, is more than just writing a WOD on the whiteboard and opening the garage door. Every solo CrossFitter I’ve ever met, even those doing Coach’s own programming, was better after being actively coached.

“Relatively high intensity” is both a highly personal, individual metric, and a constantly moving target. It requires a shared knowledge of an athlete’s mechanics and consistency by both athlete and trainer. Programming must not make high intensity either unobtainable or unavoidable. There is only one Greg Glassman, just as there was only one Mark Hopkins. Williams College today is much larger than that single log, and Heaven knows CrossFit is much larger than CrossFit Santa Cruz ca. 2003. There is, however, a lineage that we should be able to trace back to both men.

If a gym is training people according to the CrossFit prescription, shouldn’t we be able to look at that gym and see that lineage?

I’ll see you next week…


Sunday musings 8/10/14

Sunday musings…

1) Blondetourage. Should be a word.

2) Donovan. Landon Donovan has announced that he will retire at the end of this MSL season.

In other news, Johnny Manziel.

3) Burpee. “Talk Burpee to Me”, a full length article in today’s NYT on CrossFit and CrossFitters socializing. All in all very positive.

End of the beginning, or beginning of the end?

4) Rank. In a similar vein, Sports Illustrated and Men’s Health magazines published Top 50 lists of the fittest athletes in the world. Kinda funny that they would publish them in the same week. Perhaps this whole CrossFit Games thing really is breaking through into the main stream.

Neither list is as outrageous as the Outside list of a couple years ago that ranked only endurance athletes; both lists include our own Rich Froning at 19 (SI) and 4 (MH). As with all such lists (50 greatest MLB players, etc) one should never discuss these lists without proper preparation.

Start with beer.

5) Villain. While I’m thinking about magazine articles, SI posited that MLB is less interesting and less compelling because it is without a single villain in its ranks. No A-Rod orRoger Clemmens, not even a Reggie Jackson to love/hate. It’s an interesting proposition, and one which naturally prompts me to turn to our CrossFit world (shocking, I know). Try as I might, at least in the competitive arena we, too, are notably lacking for a villain. Heck, we barely even have any intramural enmity among the competitors. What passes for anything like this is a single couple of Games athletes who ignored each other on the field, and the only reason this was evident at all is because everybody else was so busy cheering for each other.

What do you think? Is Sports Illustrated correct? Is it necessary to have someone to cheer AGAINST in order to have competition that maintains its interest?

6) Mission. As we exit our Games Season and enter the 8 months between the Games and the Open, this is a good time to remember the true mission of CrossFit, the program. Now is the time that we quietly go about the work of making ourselves, and others, better. Even for the 250,000 or so of us who signed up for the Open and made neither The Games nor Regionals, it’s not about 8 months to prep for Open 15.1, it’s 8 months to quietly go about the business of mechanics, then consistency, and then intensity. These are the months when those of us who coach do our most important work, helping people become better versions of themselves for no reason other than that, to become better.

The CrossFit Games are a spectacle, one meant to show the world that a wholly different level of physical and mental fitness is possible. They are an advertising vehicle meant to let the world at large know that it is CrossFit, the program, that best allows the creation and expression of this level of fitness. The Games and their run-up, like other fitness competitions in which CrossFitters participate, are also ways for us to commune with like-minded souls, to foster our rather uniquely positive community on a scale much larger than that to be found in a Box or a garage or the corner of a commercial gym.

For almost all of us, though, the competitive aspect of the Games season is not what CrossFit is about at all. The Sport of Fitness is our spectator sport, and for some it is our weekend warrior pursuit, but these 8 months of the “Quiet Season” are what CrossFit “the program” is really all about. Now, without the siren song of The Games or The Open, we quietly and not so quietly go about the business of the core, essential competition that speaks to the mission of CrossFit laid out so eloquently so many years ago in “What is Fitness?”: you vs. you. The daily effort to move along the health/wellness/fitness curve as we strive to become a better version of ourselves tomorrow than we were yesterday through the toil and effort we endure today.

The Games are over for 2014, but you and I are still in season. We are always in season, always competing. It’s you vs. you. Still. The most important mission for CrossFit, the program, is to help you win.

I’ll see you next week…

Posted by bingo at August 10, 2014 6:02 AM

The Swinger. A Shank.

“Hilarious…a sensational novel.” –Golf Magazine

“Will leave you howling.” –Florida Times-Union

“An entertaining, revealing, thought-provoking, and cautionary tale.” –NY Times

“A must-read.” –Yahoo! Sports


Really? Did they all read the same novel I read? “The Swinger” by Michael Bamberger and Alan Shipnuck? Can’t be. The book I read was exactly none of the above. In golfspeak it was that most horrific shot imaginable…a shank.

“The Swinger” is the story of Herbert X. “Tree” Tremont, the best golfer on the PGA tour, who happens to be black, married to a beautiful white woman from Europe, who manages to blow up the most ideal life imaginable by being a selfish, self-centered serial philanderer. Hmmm. Sound familiar? Of course it does. The veneer covering this “fiction” is thin to the point of non-existence. We are invited, nay, led to believe that we can assume that all of the details are true; the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Laugh out loud funny? Please. I picked up the book mostly for the amusement. I looked for the funny parts. I don’t think I got so much as a chuckle out of 200 some odd pages of drivel. The hilarity of near misses and hair-raising escapes? Nah. Each sordid episode was more soulless than the last, and each escape only dulled any inclination that I might have had to find some tiny iota of sympathy for Tiger…er…I mean, Tree.

“Is this how it really happened?” asks one of the reviews? Well, that part is at least a little bit interesting, at least as far as the writers are concerned. I found myself wondering which one of the authors was/is “Josh”, the aging, good guy golf writer who gets sucked into the cesspool and becomes Tree’s publicist/apologist. Which one got suckered and is now trying to weasel his way out of accountability?

Nope, in the end “The Swinger” was a disappointment in every respect. Simple prose steeped in simile and bereft of metaphor, the writing equivalent of a cheap muni course not worthy of joining the Muirfields of golf literature. The characters were as flat and two dimensional as an Oklahoma City track. Where is all the complexity in Tree? The Americablinasian,n,n,ness? Is THAT part true, too?

I felt empty. Cheated. Did you ever pay to play a really famous course only to find out that you have to take a cart, you have to keep the cart on the cartpaths, and all the greens and tees were just plugged? Pretty pictures on the scorecard but nothing but “no fun” from the 1st tee. Yah…that. It was totally contrived, like a porn movie without the goofy, repetitive jingle in the background.  I neither laughed nor cried, and I couldn’t work up an ounce of “I care” for a single soul in the book.

Frankly, I get more emotionally involved in Satellite Tour events on the golf channel in the middle of a sleepless night. My most prominent reactions were sadness and boredom, and I really like golf. And I really like Tiger. My advice for someone looking to pick up “The Swinger”? This one’s as gimmicky and trivial as a vacationland miniature golf course; it’s not worth the green’s fee.

For Mike and Alan? Take a mulligan, boys. That was one, ugly shank.