Monday, April 29, 2013

Ultimate Stupidity

Something about this just doesn't look right!

This article appeared in the Arizona Republic newspaper this week. Arizona is famous for it's extreme right wing views, but this is so far right that it's left, in my opinion. How ironic that the anti government involvement people want to regulate a community's right to provide recreational and fitness facilities to it's citizens. They don't do much for their "out of touch" image when they propose closing down public facilities in order to deflect competition from for-profit commercial gyms.  Only in Arizona.
Communities all over the world have been providing facilities and encouraging public involvement for their own health and fitness for centuries. What are these people thinking? Someone's brother-in-law must own a Planet Fitness in the area.

By Parker LeavittThe Republic | azcentral.comTue Apr 16, 2013 11:07 PM
The Goldwater Institute is demanding that Gilbert cease operations at its popular Freestone Recreation Center over concerns that the $11 million public facility violates state law and unfairly competes with private fitness centers.
Goldwater attorney Taylor Earl said the conservative think tank hopes to send a message across the state that compels governments “to stay within their constitutional bounds,” something the group believes Gilbert has overstepped in building the public fitness center.
The dispute will be closely watched by other Arizona cities and towns, especially Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa and Tempe, all of which have similar recreational facilities.
Freestone opened in 2002 with basketball and racquetball courts, exercise equipment, saunas and a 40-foot rock-climbing wall. Daily admission costs $4 for an adult Gilbert resident and $6 for a non-resident.
The town estimates that the center has 236,000 visitors annually.
In a letter to Gilbert Mayor John Lewis in November, Earl contends the recreation center provides services beyond the scope allowed by state statute and is therefore “unauthorized and illegal.”
Though Freestone is now nearly 11 years old, a local gym owner complained to the Goldwater Institute last year, prompting the group’s recent legal challenge, Earl said. He refused to identify the owner but said it was a gym in Gilbert.
“Private health clubs in the area have not only been forced to fund their competition through taxation, but they cannot compete with Freestone on equal footing,” Earl argues in his letter to the town.
Goldwater has asked Gilbert either to shutter the recreation center or to sell it to a private company. The town should also order a legal audit of its Parks and Recreation Department to look for other facilities it may not have the legal authority to operate, Earl said.
Gilbert’s Freestone center is not unique in the Valley. There are several other facilities that also provide exercise equipment, sport courts and rock climbing to the general public.
Mesa’s Red Mountain Multigenerational Center, for example, offers cardio machines, volleyball, rock climbing and massage therapy. Admission prices are similar to those at Freestone.
Scottsdale and Phoenix offer multiple public fitness centers, and Tempe’s Kiwanis Recreation Center includes a gym, batting range and wave pool.
Goldwater says Gilbert is different because the town does not have a voter-approved charter that broadly defines its powers. Instead, the town derives authority from state statute, giving it limited powers, Goldwater says.
Ken Strobeck, executive director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, said cities and towns for the most part have the same powers whether they have adopted a charter.
City charters historically were more meaningful, but the Legislature in recent years has granted more authority to “general law” cities, which don’t have a charter, Strobeck said. It’s been 20 years since the last city charter was adopted, he added.
There are 19 charter cities in Arizona, according to the league. Among Phoenix-area municipalities with more than 50,000 residents, only Gilbert and Surprise remain without charters.
Still, those communities have the right to develop parks, league general counsel William Bock said. If Goldwater is trying to draw the line on what type of park is allowed, it is “splitting hairs too much,” Bock said.
Earl said the Goldwater Institute hopes Gilbert will voluntarily comply with its demand but hinted at possible litigation if the town refuses.
If the issue ends up in court, Earl said, the case could exceed the scope and significance of the high-profile CityNorth case, in which Goldwater challenged Phoenix’s $97 million incentive deal for the mixed-use development.
Strobeck agreed that the case would be significant for municipalities but thinks that it is unlikely that a court would issue a ruling that requires cities to receive permission from the state Legislature for every activity.
Gilbert’s contract town attorney, Susan Goodwin, dismissed Goldwater’s claims in a response she sent to the organization in December asserting the town’s right to own and operate the facility “for the general good of the public.”
Cities and towns are not restricted from competing with the private sector in providing recreation opportunities, Goodwin wrote.
In March, Earl again prodded the town on its operations at Freestone and restated his opinion that the center does not meet the definition of a park.
The Goldwater complaint came as a “big surprise” to the town, Goodwin said.
The Gilbert Town Council was scheduled to meet in executive session on Tuesday evening to discuss the Goldwater complaint. Officials are forbidden by law from divulging details of such closed-door meetings.
The makeup of the council leans to the right, and recent elections have sent staunch conservatives with “tea party” ties to Gilbert Town Hall. It remains unclear, however, if the council will be receptive to Goldwater’s demands.
Former Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson, now a member of the centrist Grand Canyon Institute, said the Goldwater complaint is “depressing” and “out of touch.” Johnson said the argument reminds him of one made by a resident during his tenure as mayor, when Phoenix weighed funding a swimming pool.
“They said, ‘Mayor, if these kids want to swim, they ought to swim in their own backyard,’ ” Johnson recalled.
But there will always be groups of people who lack the financial means for such activities, and cutting them off from public facilities is only asking for trouble, Johnson said.
“I will make you a guarantee. You will need to hire a lot more police because, sooner or later, some of those kids will get into trouble,” Johnson said. “You are sowing the seeds of revolution. That’s something that history tells you.”

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Preventing Lumbar Injuries in Rotational Striking Athletes

The Hammer Throw does not require twisting of the torso, but is a rotation around the axis of the body. This requires stabilization, not increasing the range of spinal rotation.

We've posted some things in the past about the difference between rotation and twisting. Many "strength and conditioning coaches" seem to think that rotational force is developed by doing twisting movements. I would argue that twisting the spine beyond it's range of motion with additional weight is a recipe for injury. In fact, I would argue that trying to increase the range of motion beyond what the spinal discs are designed to rotate is unnecessary and deleterious. Below is an article that appeared in the April 2013 Strength and Conditioning Journal that supports this idea.

I only printed the conclusion below. I also included the references for any academic types out there. The entire article can be read on the NSCA website or in the journal. It points out that the most injurious position is when the back is rotated while in extension. 
The human back is an amazing structure that allows us to do many things. My experience is that the spinal musculature is best strengthened by staying with in the normal spinal range of motion. While there are some individuals with "iron backs" who can get away with trying to stretch the spine beyond it's range of motion, most of us eventually will end up with disc herniation if we persist in chronically over stretching the spine. My best advice, and it's also backed up by research, is strengthen the supportive musculature around the spine by doing heavy overhead work, squatting and pulling movements without a belt as much as possible, along with various varieties of back raises, side bend work, abdominal work...etc. Excessive twisting and trying to stretch the spine, especially when it is in extension, causes cumulative microtruama and will eventually result in a herniated disc. Often the disc will "blowout" doing a simple movment like a pull, deadlift, or even bending over to pick up something and the athlete will think that this was the cause, when actually it was just the "straw that broke the camels back." Train smart. Think stabilizaton, not pushing the range of motion when training the low back.

Preventing Lumbar Injuries in Rotational Striking Athletes

Gillies, Aaron MS, CSCS1; Dorgo, Sandor PhD, CSCS2

In summary, training for rotational sports involves increasing stability of the spine rather than improving mobility. Some programs indicate rotary motion with the pelvis fixed and violent rotation of the shoulders and spine, known as the “X-factor.” Developing high levels of rotary torque is not a task for the lumbar spine and abdominal musculature; it is a task for the hip and shoulder joints. Increased X-factor or angle difference between the pelvis and shoulders increases strain on the IVD as well as stress on the pars region of the vertebrae, which overtime can lead to herniated disks or stress fractures. Transferring the high levels of rotary torque from the lower body to the upper body is the task of the trunk muscles. To reduce the risk of a lumbar spine injury, these muscle systems should thus be trained as a cohesive unit rather than in isolated segments.
By progressing through a progressive training program that includes neuromuscular facilitation, endurance, strength, and power phases that improve lumbar stability during rotation, athletes can reduce the risk of lumbar injury during sport participation. Performance in rotary sport movements such as a golf swing, baseball swing, discuss throw, and hockey slap shot can benefit from the outlined program.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Jim Thorpe, Finally Going Home

Jim competing in the discus. Note the ring and the foot wear.

The story of Jim Thorpe is an amazing but sad episode in the history of American athletics. Born and raised on a reservation in Oklahoma, he won the Olympic decathlon, played pro baseball, and is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame. In fact, his statue is the first thing you see when you enter the building. He is pretty much responsible for the survival of the NFL in it's earliest days. His story and list of accomplishments are too great to recount fully here, but Google his name if you want more information. There are tons of stories about his exploits as a competitor and his amazing life. 
He was stripped of his Olympic medals after it was discovered that he played baseball for money during the summer while attending the Carlisle Indian boarding school. After his death this was corrected and his medals were restored. He was a simple and unsophisticated man who was generous with his means and died penniless living in a trailer while working as a laborer. His 3rd wife sold his name and remains to a small town in Pennsylvania near Carlisle where he was sent to school so they could use it as a tourist attraction. It is really symbolic of the way so many exploited his unique talents and benefited from his innocence and good nature while he was alive. It seems that this too, is finally being corrected and his family will finally be able to return his body to his home land which is important to Native Americans.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The two surviving children of sports great Jim Thorpe won a critical ruling Friday in federal court that could clear the way for his remains to be removed from a mausoleum in the Pennsylvania town that bears his name and reinterred on American Indian land in Oklahoma.
U.S. District Judge Richard Caputo ruled in favor of sons Bill and Richard Thorpe and against Jim Thorpe borough in northeastern Pennsylvania, saying the town itself amounts to a museum under the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

The men’s lawyer, Stephen R. Ward of Tulsa, Okla., said they will now pursue the legal process to have their father, who won the decathlon and pentathlon in the 1912 Olympics, returned to Sac and Fox land in central Oklahoma.
Messages seeking comment from lawyers for the borough, and top borough officials, were not immediately returned. They could appeal Caputo’s decision.
Ward said the brothers were pleased with the decision.
“They and their brothers and other members of the family have wanted this and have worked for this for a long time,” he said. “They well remember how the wishes of the Indian members of the family were not respected concerning their father’s burial.”
After Jim Thorpe died without a will in 1953 at age 64, third wife Patricia Thorpe made a deal with two merging towns in the Poconos, Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk, to have the new town named for him. His remains have been kept for the past six decades in a borough-owned roadside memorial along the Lehigh River.
Caputo wrote that the result may seem at odds with notions of commercial or contract law.
“Congress, however, recognized larger and different concerns in such circumstances, namely, the sanctity of the Native American culture’s treatment of the remains of those of Native American ancestry,” the judge said. “It did so against a history of exploitation of Native American artifacts and remains for commercial purposes.”
Ward said Bill Thorpe, who lives in Oklahoma, and Richard, a resident of the Dallas area, have not decided whether to bury their father alongside their paternal grandfather in a cemetery in Shawnee, Okla., or at another spot in the area.
Ward said the brothers are not seeking to have the town change its name, and the judge said any concerns about the borough’s identity were misplaced.
Thorpe was born in Oklahoma and became a professional football and baseball player, as well as a Hollywood actor. The town that bears his name — which he likely never visited — has become a popular tourist destination, replete with trendy shops, historic architecture and outdoor activities connected to the mountainous region.
Ward said any tourist benefit that Thorpe’s remains may have once provided has long become nonexistent.

Competing in the Shotput.

The first NFL superstar.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Is This Cool or What?

Bostonians on Saturday were exhilarated with relief at the news that the deadly marathon bomber that put their city on lockdown was finally captured. In true American style, the town celebrated getting back to normal with a good ol' Red Sox baseball game--as well as a surprise performance from another national treasure, Neil Diamond.
The legendary entertainer flew into Boston and worked up the idea all of his own accord, asking if he could serenade Fenway Park with a live performance of his classic "Sweet Caroline"--which is the unofficial anthem of the team and played during every home-game eighth inning since 2002.
The enthusiastic crowd of 35,000 burst into roars of approval when the 72-year-old Diamond walked out on the field sporting a Boston baseball cap.
"What an honor it is for me to be here today!" answered Diamond. "I bring love from the whole country."
What followed was a buoyant sing-a-long fest, with the smiling Fenway Faithful dancing, waving American flags, and chanting "U.S.A! U.S.A!"
To top off the afternoon, the Red Sox won their game against the Kansas City Royals, 4-3.
In solidarity with Boston, "Sweet Caroline" was blasted in ballparks across the nation over the weekend. The song was even played and sang in Red Sox archenemy territory, Yankee Stadium.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Another Warrior Passes On

Albert Smith, a true Warrior.

We have featured these modern Warriors, the Navajo Code Talkers, in the past. These men left the reservation as young men and used their Navajo language as a code that was never broken. They functioned in the heat of battle and were integral to the success of the U.S. forces in the Pacific theater during WWII. There are but a few remaining and another passed this week. We would like honor Albert Smith with trubute written by his niece, Farina Smith. She also beautifully defines what it means to be a Warrior. Below are the links to our past posts:
 Shibízhí Albert Smith, Navajo Code Talker begins a new journey
In Bighorse the Warrior, Tiana Bighorse defines what a “warrior” means to the Navajo:
"In Navajo, a warrior means someone who can get through the snowstorm when no one else can. In Navajo, a warrior is the one that doesn't get the flu when everyone else does- the only one walking around, making a fire for the sick, giving them medicine, feeding them food, making them strong to fight the flu. In Navajo, a warrior is the one who can use words so everyone knows they are part of the same family. In Navajo, a warrior says what is in the people's hearts. Talks about what the land means to them. Brings them together to fight for it" (xxiv).
Many people recognized my uncle Albert Smith as a warrior, because he served in World War II as a Navajo Code Talker. Many people also knew Albert as a warrior in the Navajo sense of the title. I, Farina King, did.
I can present the basic biographical information about my uncle. Albert Smith was born in December 1924 near Mariano Lake, New Mexico. He attended boarding school as a child in New Mexico. At the age of 16, he volunteered to serve in the U.S. Marines during WWII with his brother, George, providing false information about his age at the time to meet the requirements to join the military. He was selected to train as a Navajo Code Talker. He served in the 4th, 14th, and 23rd Marine Divisions. He faced combat and worked in military code operations on the Marshall Islands, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima. Smith returned to Navajo lands after his service in WWII, and then married in September 1953. He traveled abroad again for the U.S. military to Korea and left right before conflict broke out in the Korean War.
Smith continued and finished his education to become a teacher for American Indian students and worked In Oregon for some time before returning to New Mexico to settle in Gallup with his wife and their daughter, Alberta. He has been President of the Navajo Code Talkers Association and has served in other capacities in the association. He has traveled extensively to speak publicly about his experiences as a Navajo Code Talker after the code was declassified in 1968. He has participated in the making of documentaries and the writing of monographs concerning the history of the Navajo Code Talkers. He was also selected as the technical advisor for the film, Windtalkers, directed by John Woo in 2002.
At the age of 89 in the months before his passing, Smith continued to share his knowledge and experience with communities throughout the country.
What makes Albert a warrior to me in the Navajo sense is that he always fought in life for the people he loved and the land. He touched many lives after his service in WWII as a teacher and parent. Helen and Albert opened their home to many children without a place to go. They opened their home to me and re-connected me with my Navajo heritage and family. Shibízhí inspired me to pursue my dreams and passions, and to become a historian who could tell such incredible and touching stories as his own. He was the most spiritual person that I knew, reminding me that a Creator exists and cares for us his children. He taught me to respect all and our Mother Earth, and he showed me how the “mountain is our church.” The land orients us in our purposes and growth in life. I love you, Shibízhí, and I always will. I close with his own poem that he wrote in honor of his fellow veterans in World War II who passed on before him.
Rest in Peace
We are proud Americans,
Proud Navajo Marines
And, the Proud,
Humble Navajo Code Talkers.
Today as warriors
We stand before you with humility,
With honor and with pride.
These attributes, you left us to enjoy,
To care for, and to treasure.
With your passage through the shadow of death,
Came our precious Freedom, Liberty and Justice.
We survivors of these conflicts honor you,
With a special tribute;
Lend us your spiritual ears,
Drums of the ages have echoed
For you with songs and dances.
—poem by Albert Smith

His posterity will forever blessed by his example.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

More Rigert

Awhile ago we had a post paying tribute to the great Russian weight lifter and coach, David Rigert. I ran across this documentary clip that has english sub-titles. The translation is pretty literal but not hard to follow. It is fascinating to me. His influence on those of us who grew up weightlifting in the 60's and 70's cannot be overstated.He was, and is, a formidable figure.

Rigert on the right. You can pick out the elite lifters from the back view.

Rigert in his prime was an awe inspiring specimen!
Functional personified.
No wonder we were all inspired by him!

Friday, April 12, 2013

American Football Declining?

Ziggy Ansah is living the American football dream. An African native, he has only played for a few years but is set to make some serious money in the NFL. He is a unique physical specimen and an amazing story. A the bottom is a video clip of a recent interview with him and a team mate.

I have to admit that I was surprised to see the article below a few days ago. Here in the U.S.A. the game we call football (we call the game the rest of the world calls football, soccer here) dominates the sporting landscape. The revenue generated from filling stadiums with fans each Fall along with booster donations, pretty much funds the rest of the sports at most high schools and universities. Football drives the strength and conditioning programs as the facility design, and scheduling access are determined by the desires of the football staff. Football players receive the greatest amount of recognition and rewards from society and from the schools they represent.
The article claims a large drop in participation here in our state of Arizona. I'm not sure that I have actually seen such a drop in our area, although I have to say that the quality of athlete seems to have dropped some in the last few years. I coached football for 23 years and have been out of it for about 9 years now. On some of the last teams I coached we had every player capable of a minimum 100 kg. clean. Now our local team might have two players who are able to do that. Double bodyweight squats were the norm, now they are rare. This decline is not limited to football either. The track results also show similar deterioration. I recently officiated the Discus at a varsity track meet with 20 teams and didn't even have 9 boys throw over 100 ft. The winning distance was 119 ft. This all concerns me.
While I think that maybe the increased coverage of concussions may have something to do with the decline in football participation, I fear that the major cause is lack of desire by many of our youth to do anything physically challenging. It is easier to play fantasy football on the computer than it is to prepare and practice. While our best athletes are better than ever in many ways, with improved training and nutritional knowledge and resources, the numbers who are actually taking advantage are decreasing. Here in the U.S., during the last election, much was made of the growing gap between the rich and the poor. I can see some validity in that. Well, I also see a growing gap between the few who value physical health and strength and those who think it has become obsolete in our techno world.
If you are reading this, I know which side you are on. Don't let go. The world needs Warriors more than ever.

COLLEGE PARK - When the undefeated St. Frances Academy football team prepared to play Friends School of Baltimore last October, they didn't expect to win without playing.
But that's exactly what happened when Friends was forced to forfeit after showing up with only 13 players.
"I was very surprised," said Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association Executive Director Rick Diggs of the forfeits. "I've been director for 20 years and I can't remember the last forfeit."
What happened to Friends is unusual, but not unheard of in Maryland.
Football participation in Maryland in the 2011-2012 season dropped by nearly 500 student-athletes from the previous year, a 3.5 percent drop, according to the most recent data from the National Federation of State High School Associations.
It's the largest decline the state has seen in seven years, and the third drop in four years.
The MIAA, which oversees the state's private schools, has also seen smaller schools like Friends consistently struggle to field full-sized football rosters. The Friends School forfeit was the first of two this season in the MIAA.
"You ideally want 35 kids to a roster, but there just aren't enough kids to go around," Diggs said.
To cope with the decline, some schools have begun dropping their freshman or junior varsity squads in an effort to put more players on varsity.
"If the freshman level drops, eventually it will have a larger effect on the varsity program," said A.K. Johnson, student activities coordinator for Charles County. "It will be interesting to see what happens this year."
Eric Michael, supervisor of health athletics and physical education for Washington County, said his schools have also struggled to field multiple teams recently, noting that some teams have hovered around the "20-25 mark" the last three years.
"We've always fielded three teams, but because of our smaller schools, at times it has been difficult to field a JV and freshman team," he said. "You've got to be smart about it. If our numbers are down, we're not going to put a team out there."
Athletics officials said growing parental concerns about safety in football could explain part of the drop.
In 2002, a study was published linking physical violence in football to long term brain damage known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE.
To combat the growing concern over the safety of its players, the NFL has initiated rule changes and new testing protocols to limit hits to the head and concussions. More than 2,000 former players are now suing the league for not warning them about the possible long term ramifications of football.
"The concussion thing is a concern," said John Gillis, associate director for publication and communications at the National Federation of State High School Associations. "There could be parents out there who have pulled their kids out [because of fear of concussions]."
Michael, the Washington County athletics supervisor, is one of those parents.
"I was a football player, I've been a coach and I'm a parent. And I'm not so sure about my son playing. I held him out this year because I don't want him being improperly taught at this young age."
But officials aren't pointing to safety concerns as the sole reason for the drop.
"We aren't drawing the line at concussions," said Bob Colgate, the director of sports and sports medicine at the National Federation of State High School Associations. "There are many factors our states are looking at, like consolidation between schools."
"You can hypothesize on many things," said Ned Sparks, executive director of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association. "People not being able to afford the pay to play system because of the economy. Are students playing other sports? We're offering more sports than ever, so that could be a factor."
The decline is also evident at the sport's lowest levels. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, youth football experienced a nearly 20 percent drop in participation from 2008-2011, a decline second only to wrestling during that time.
Maryland high school football officials said they will wait to see data from last season before they consider taking more drastic steps to increase participation. The downward trend of participation in football is being felt more drastically in other states.
Arizona had 7,800 less high school football players in the 2011 season than the year before, about a 39 percent drop, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Ohio has lost approximately 16 percent of its players in the last four years, and Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota have all experienced four straight years of decline.
"2011 was probably our most substantial drop in terms of football," Colgate said. "It wasn't surprising. We've talked about this at rules committee meetings and will continue to bring it up at future meetings."
Like the NFL, the National Federation of State High School Associations has discussed making rule changes to prevent more concussions.
"If we see another sharp decline, we'll have to take a closer look at things," Colgate said.
Despite the safety concerns, there are still those who believe in high school football.
"I'm a firm believer there are certain benefits and experiences to be had by playing sports at the high school level," Gillis said. "It's part of the high school experience. There's nothing like it."


Monday, April 8, 2013

Anatomy of a Myth

While this is a lengthy video, it is a good discussion of the premises of the so called "Paleo Diet". My point is not so much to discredit any particular diet, but to call attention to the tendency to make (and accept) many false claims as fact if they are presented often enough and with some semblance of authority or even  nice graphics. While there is no doubt that minimizing processed foods is a great idea, trying to copy the eating habits of ancient populations can be misguided for many reasons as outlined here. Hey, I'm not even sure there was such thing as Neanderthal or Paleo men. "Scientists" find a bone or skull here and there and then try to build an entire civilization. Heck, my uncle Leroy looks exactly like a Neanderthal. If someone digs him up a few thousand years from now they'll probably think he was the norm. lol
For a common sense approach to nutrition and eating, check out Clarence Bass's website cbass.com  He presents a smart and sustainable way to be healthy and strong for the entire lifespan.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

700 Bench Press by High Schooler

I have had several co-workers e-mail this video clip to me with comments about how awesome it is. This has appeared on several national news sites here in the U.S. This kid is still in high school. When I was his age Pat Casey had only recently broke the 600 lb. barrier wearing a wrestling singlet. A handful of men followed such as Jim Williams and Don Reinhoudt, wearing t-shirts. At that time we never dreamed that a kid our age would someday do 700 lb. while in high school. Of course we never dreamed of contraptions like bench shirts and never thought about contorting our position on the bench to be able to elevate more.
While this is certainly an unusually strong young man, how do you explain things like bench shirts, wraps, and mechanically shortened range of motion to outsiders? Let alone get into an intelligent discussion on the relevancy of the bench press to football in the first place.  In my experience it is about impossible to put a lift like this into perspective for a non-lifter. This young man is certainly a prodigious bencher within the rules of the organization he is competing in. Is it making him a better football player or athlete? That is another question......