Try loving your girls and raising your boys this sports season

 

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You never know what your daughter can do…so let her throw it around a little.

In 1971, a Joint Resolution of Congress was passed with the following text:

WHEREAS, the women of the United States have been treated as second-class citizens and have not been entitled the full rights and privileges, public or private, legal or institutional, which are available to male citizens of the United States; and 
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have united to assure that these rights and privileges are available to all citizens equally regardless of sex;
WHEREAS, the women of the United States have designated August 26, the anniversary date of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, as symbol of the continued fight for equal rights: and
WHEREAS, the women of the United States are to be commended and supported in their organizations and activities,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that August 26 of each year is designated as “Women’s Equality Day,” and the President is authorized and requested to issue a proclamation annually in commemoration of that day in 1920, on which the women of America were first given the right to vote, and that day in 1970, on which a nationwide demonstration for women’s rights took place.

For the purposes of this blog, we’ll focus on the highlighted portion.

There’s an old saying that parents love their sons and raise their daughters. Nowhere is the saying more true than in youth sports. Youth football, boys basketball, baseball, etc. have throngs of support from parents and spectators.

They cheer and yell their collective heads off for those boys. We’ve seen the videos and I’ve written about it extensively in this space about how worked up we get. And it’s mostly over our boys.

We give them nicknames that remind us of adult superstars. “There’s my little Jordan!” “Boy, that crossover is like Steph!” “Look at him…the next Pujols!”

Um, no.

As far as quality of play goes, youth games are not very good. Kids don’t know where to line up. They can’t catch, hit, throw or shoot.

Seriously, how many times does the catcher drop the pitch in youth baseball? How often do youth football teams even attempt a forward pass?

Yet and still, we shower our boys with praise and admiration through all this mediocrity. We cheer for their potential. When dad goes hoarse cheering for his 4th grade running back, the kid thinks, “Dad really does think I can be the next Adrian Peterson.”

Girls’ games are a different story. The stands look like PT at 5 a.m. on an army base. No one’s there who isn’t supposed to be. Cheers are motivational instead of euphoric. You know who Haley’s, Brooke’s and Taylor’s dads are because they cheer individually instead of collectively.

“There’s the next Elena Delle Donne right there!” yelled no parent, ever (Editor’s Note: Elena Delle Donne is the reigning WNBA MVP and scoring champion). Girls sports are generally viewed the way youth sports should be in general. Teamwork and fundamentals are emphasized.

Most girls get to play because the coach is more concerned with teaching them the game than winning it. When we go to see our daughters play basketball, soccer, or softball, we don’t connect professional aspirations to the 9-year-old before us.

I challenge you, your extended family and friends to pack out a girls game. Cheer for them like they’re UConn or the U.S. Women’s National Basketball Team. If you don’t know any great female athletes, look them up and try as hard as you can to see that greatness in your own princess.

I also challenge you to let your little boy be a little boy. He’s not Steph, yet. Steph wasn’t Steph until two years ago. Your son may not grow any taller than 5-5 and that’s OK. Allow to him learn, develop his skills and enjoy the game.

Let’s love our girls a little more and take greater care in raising our boys. Both deserve it.

 

 

 

Rio Olympian auctions medal to help sick child

Piotr Malachowski won a silver medal representing his native Poland in the discus during the Rio Olympics. His was one of 11 won by the country. Making your country’s Olympic team is a dream come true. Winning a medal is on a different plane of accomplishment entirely.

On Tuesday, Malachowski auctioned his medal to Poland’s richest family. He didn’t do it for himself, though. There are no big houses, stretch limousines or extravagant trips in Malachowski future.

He auctioned his medal away to save the sight and the life of 3-year-old Olek Szymanski. Young Olek has retinoblastoma (eye cancer) and the surgery he needs costs $126,000. A charitable organization in Poland had already raised one-third of the money, but the effort required one more, big heave – something that could only come from one of the best discus throwers in the world.

“We were able to show that together we can do wonders,” Malachowski wrote on his Facebook page. “My silver medal today is worth a lot more than a week ago. It is worth the life and health of small Olek. It is our great shared success.”

It’s often said the great ones make others around them better. While discus throwing is very much an individual endeavor, Malachowski used his considerable strength and skill to make a child’s life better. And for that, he is elevated higher than any medal stand could place him.

Abbey D’Agostino and Nikki Hamblin show how sportsmanship can be a win-win

In one of Tuesday’s Olympic 5,000m semifinal heats, Abbey D’Agostino of the United States and New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin got their feet entangled as both runners were making a move toward the front of the pack.

D’Agostino helped the injured Hamblin back to her feet and the two continued on. Hamblin appeared to recover from the fall a little better than D’Agostino as the American limped through her last laps to the finish. Hamblin stood waiting at the finish line and hugged a competitor she had never met before.

Distance runners are a special bunch. While they do compete to win, each athlete, no matter what the level, respects what it takes to get out there and punish their bodies the way they do. Oftentimes, finishing a race can be more important than winning it.

Here in St. Louis, we honor similar stories at the Musial Awards. In 2012, Meghan Vogel was recognized for her actions during a race when she literally carried a competitor across the finish line.

In the movie A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise’s Lt. Caffey says to a convicted marine, “You don’t need to wear a patch on your arm to have honor.” The same is true here. You don’t have to be in Rio to have the Olympic spirit and you don’t need to finish first to be a winner.

Although…both D’Agostino and Hamblin filed protests, and because they finished the semifinal heat, they will be able to compete in the 5,000m final.

Shaunae Miller’s 400m win was perfectly legal…and perfectly perfect

Bahamian sprinter Shaunae Miller was clearly running out of gas as she neared the finish of Monday night’s Olympic 400m race. Miller and Allyson Felix of the United States seemed to be running step-for-step, but it appeared Felix may have a little left in her tank. Olympic immortality and second place hung in the balance, so Miller did this:

She dove for the finish…and won! Social media lit up as the public wondered if Miller’s dive was legal. Can a runner leave her feet to win a race. The short answer is yes, but let’s look at the rules. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is the governing body for track and field.

Rule 164 (The Finish):

  1. The finish of a race shall be denoted by a white line 50mm wide.
  2. The athletes shall be placed in order in which any part of their bodies (i.e. torso, as distinguished from the head, neck, arms, legs, hands or feet) reaches the vertical plane of the nearer edge of the finish line as defined above.

The rest of the rules regarding the finish of a race center on what to do in case of a photo finish or if the electronic timing system fails. Miller’s dive actually makes more sense when looking at the rules as opposed to the head nod most runners do when crossing the line.

When lunging with the head, the athlete’s torso is still behind her. It would be better to run upright with the chest high or just throw your whole body across the finish line. Miller chose to do the latter. Hey, whatever works!

On a more human level, did we really expect less from an Olympic athlete? We watch their stories of sacrifice, dedication and hardship to get to these moments. Seriously, if an Olympic gold medal were within your reach, wouldn’t you dive for it too?

Standing room only at Coach It Right! Soccer Clinic

Coach It Right! Soccer Clinic 8.10.2016

I’m always nervous before a youth or coaching clinic. Sure, people sign up, but they have lives and other things to do. What if they don’t show?

Wednesday night’s clinic was unique in that the venue, Eureka Fire Station #2, is next door to Six Flags. What if the adults decided to go ride the Screamin’ Eagle instead of learning how not to be a screaming coach?

The cars showed up one by one and soon they were double-parked, squeezing in at funny angles and just plain blocking each other. Denny Vaninger, coaching director of the Missouri Youth Soccer Association and lead clinician of the Coach It Right! Soccer Clinics, was fine to pack them in.

“The room holds 40. I think we have 80 coaches here. As long as the firefighters are cool with it, we’ll make it work.”

Before a clinic, I’ll send an email to the registrants giving them directions and saying if they have a friend who didn’t sign up, but wants to take the course, bring them along. We won’t turn anyone away.

They took me up on my offer this time. They brought friends.

All the chairs were filled. People went and got chairs from their cars. Those who didn’t have chairs sat on the floor. I had to take the picture above from the corner because there were six or seven coaches seated on the floor behind Coach Vaninger.

Coaches come out like this to learn from great coaches. And there isn’t a better youth coach, in any sport, than Denny Vaninger. His primary lesson centers on letting kids play soccer. Every drill is designed for kids to play with the soccer ball. They even have a ball during water breaks.

Vaninger said, “Sometimes, the best training session is to just let the kids scrimmage against each other. They want to play and it gives you a chance to figure things out.”

If you missed the first clinic, that’s OK. We have two more this season. Click on the flyer below to register. Every coach who completes the course will receive their Youth Coaching Certificate from the Missouri Youth Soccer Association free of charge.

Thanks again to all the coaches who came out on Wednesday and to those who couldn’t make it, we’ll see you soon. I promise Holy Spirit and Ursuline Academy has more than enough room for you and your friends.

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Musial Awards resource packet now available for educators and parents

Mo'ne Davis

The most meaningful night in sports now offers a meaningful lesson for the classroom. The Musial Awards recognizes and celebrates stories of extraordinary sportsmanship from around the country. Many of the award-winning stories have involved young people who possess maturity and selflessness beyond their years.

We realize it’s not possible for every student to see the young role models honored at the Musial Awards in-person. However, it is possible for every student to see the honoree stories and learn the lessons embodied by the event’s namesake — Stan “The Man” Musial.

Educators and parents can now order the Musial Awards DVD and Educator Resource Guide from the Sports Commission free of charge. The packet includes:

  • Letter to educators explaining the resource guide’s contents and how they comply with Missouri’s Grade-Level Expectations.
  • The 2014 Musial Awards DVD (featured honorees include Mo’ne DavisJosh Zuchowski and the Olivet, Michigan Youth Football Team).
  • Official Musial Awards Crossword Puzzle and Word Search (For elementary-middle grades).
  • Discussion questions and extra-point topics (for middle-high school).

The Musial Awards DVD and Educator Resource Guide is the perfect complement to your school’s character education curriculum and for parents who want to take on the responsibility themselves. To order, please email salexander@stlsports.org or call 314-345-5130. Your packet will arrive in 3-5 business days. All educators and parents are eligible. Don’t wait any longer. Place your order today!