Saturday, March 13, 2010

Nike Ad: A Dream Deferred

I can't watch this ad without tearing up a little. It's one of my favorite Nike track ads.

Sanya Richards, the athlete in the ad, holds the fastest 400m time in the world, and the record for the most sub 50 second 400 races.

This ad was made in 2007 after her most challenging season. That year, she was diagnosed with Bechet's Syndrome. She missed the first six races of the 2007 season, and did not qualify for the US National Team in the 400 - placing fourth in that race. A day later, she had to put all of this behind her mentally to compete in the 200m, her last shot at qualifying for the team. She ran an incredible race, and qualified.

The ad, produced by Nike, features Langston Hughes's poem, "A Dream Deferred," narrated by Danny Glover.

For more on Richards, you can visit her website.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bogut v. Big Baby

Here's Milwaukee Bucks center, Andrew Bogut with a monster dunk on Centics forward, Glen "Big Baby" Davis. I love how Big Baby stumbles backwards after being manhandled by Bogut. Definitely worth a watch if you didn't get a chance to see it live last night.

The Bucks are pretty good this year, winning ten of their last eleven games. It's these close games with great teams, like the one we witnessed last night (86-84) that really make me excited for my home town team

Are Supplements Effective?

I have a confession to make. Each day, ingest at least 10 pills that I think will improve my health or performance. Inside my bathroom mirror, there is a row devoted solely to supplements. There’s a bottle of omega 3 fish oil – good for muscle repair, a daily probiotic for digestion, vitamin d for immune health and bone density, glucosamine for joint repair. The list could go on. And I’m not alone, either. Nearly half of Americans take at least one multivitamin per day. In fact, the vitamin industry as a whole makes $20 billion per year.

But are these vitamins and supplements really contributing to my health, or am I and others just a victim of good marketing and the placebo effect?

About a year ago, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood institute paid for a study to determine whether daily multivitamins could reduce the incidence of major illness in postmenopausal women. This study was the largest of its kind, tracking the health of 162,000 female participants over a period of eight years. According to the report:

“During the eight-year study period, 9,619 cases of breast, colorectal, endometrial, renal, bladder, stomach, lung or ovarian cancer were reported, as well as 8,751 cardiovascular events and 9,865 deaths. The study found no significant differences in risk of cancer, heart disease or death between the multivitamin users and non-users."

What does this mean for you? Well, for one, it means that you could save some money, if you wanted to, at least on multivitamins. Instead, opt for getting your vitamin content from the foods that you eat: dark leafy greens, fruits, whole grains, etc.

To be honest, though, I think I’m going to keep sticking to my vitamin regimen, and here’s why. First, I don’t take a daily multivitamin. I find that, in most multivitamins, the “A to Z” vitamins that each pill contains are rarely 100% of what you need for the day. If I’m going to be eating a healthy diet, then most of that content will come from my food. I do, however, take specific vitamins – for instance, vitamin d – because I feel that my body could use an extra amount. Whether the “issues” I refer to are real or imagined is definitely up for debate, however, I can honestly say that I feel better when I take my vitamins, and that’s worth the money spent.

In his book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, author Michael Pollan writes that it is not so important to take a multivitamin/vitamins daily, but to be the kind of person who takes their vitamins. Take an active role in your health. Be concerned about what you put in your body and how to improve it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lebron's Latest

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, here's LeBron's latest, sickest dunk on the New York Knicks two nights ago. Delonte West had the assist. The Cavs went on to win the game, or should I say, "rout," 124 - 93. This guy is truly amazing.

Yesterday, LeBron sent in the paperwork to officially change his jersey number from "23" to "6," his Olympic-team jersey number. James states that he wants to change numbers in order to try to officially retire the number with Michael Jordan. When the PTI guys discussed this change on the show yesterday, Wilbon mentioned that, should LeBron be thinking about going to the Chicago Bulls, the number change would be especially necessary. Though the Bulls aren't usually discussed as possible teams for LeBron to go to next year, it's definitely fun to think about.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cheetah Girl

Most of us watched the women’s skiing events during the Winter Olympics to see the famous athletes like Lindsey Vonn and Maria Reisch try to medal. On Friday, I turned to the women’s slalom, hoping to catch a glimpse of Vonn. Instead, I saw a racer who has stuck with me for the last few days.

Her name is Sarah Schleper, and she roars before each race. See for yourself:

Schleper, is 32 and a four-time Olympian, but she’s never medaled. She’s made it to the world championships, but only won once. She is one of those athletes who always shows up and fights it out, but will never get the kind of recognition that a skier like Vonn has. Her presence at the 2010 Olympics was by no means guaranteed, either. In 2007, she missed the entire season due to a torn ACL. In 2008, she took the season off for the birth of her son, Lasse. The amount of determination and drive it must have taken to get back into Olympic-qualifying form – not only as a formerly injured athlete, but also as a young mother – is incredible.

Her story, itself, is touching, but it was Schleper's roar that had the most impact on me. Immediately before Sarah starts each race, she lets out that loud, uninhibited scream. A lion, or a cheetah roar, which gets her in the right mindset for each race. I’ve seen hundreds of pre-event rituals, but never one like this. It was a powerful statement from a female athlete, an action that both projects and also summons confidence.

I think that the concept of the “lion roar” can be applied to any sort of race or challenge that we face as athletes. If you want to win or succeed, you have to put it all out there, unabashedly. No matter what starting line you find yourself on – don’t ever apologize for your presence among your fellow competitors. If you don’t feel like you have the “right” to be standing with them at the beginning, then you’ll never beat them to the finish. Let out your roar, whether quiet or loud, and use what’s inside of you to carry you through.