Entries in General (124)
I look at it every day on my bookcase in my office. The world's greatest Team Mom, Cari, had it made for me after my Little League team, on which her son played with my two boys, won the City Championship. I had never seen anything like it before, nor have I since. But it's what the folks at Fun Fotos have been doing for years.
Send them your favorite photo of a sporting event, (or anything else, such as weddings, for that matter), and they'll bring it to three dimensional life. Created with 1/4” durable acrylic, they transform a photograph into a award that will be a souvenir forever. I've accumulated tons of keepsakes over my years of coaching my sons and daughter, but this is the one that has been displayed in the most prominent of spots in my office for ten years now. Every time I look at it I remember that game, that night, and the fun it was coaching that team.
Ordinary trophies are great. But for memorable, lasting awards you'll treasure the rest of your life, nothing stands out like a photo sculpture from Fun Fotos. Literally.
Source: Fun Fotos
When my daughter suffered a severe ankle sprain that took her out of her competitive soccer team's lineup, it was distressing on several levels. Not only did she miss an important tournament along with several weeks of games, but she had to sit by and watch as her teammates played on without her, got better and, in some ways, left her behind. As her ankle slowly recovered, inversely, her confidence eroded, making her more and more anxious about finally being able to get back on the field. What if she couldn't perform at a high level because of the injury? What if she re-injured the ankle and missed even more time? The worst thing she could do is come back and play tentatively, but it would be hard to go 100% right out of the gate.
Luckily, our physical therapist recommended a McDavid Ankle Brace – the most heavy duty they make. This is not just a neoprene sleeve. The hard plastic lock-down cuff restricts excessive rotation and the inner sleeve provides comfort and support. The initial concern when we got this was that her mobility would suffer, but she didn't complain about that at all. And I didn't notice any diminshment in her skills. She came to depend on the brace, wore it the entire high school season and had a great year. All of the wear and tear of club, followed by high school soccer, play and practice every day, took it's toll and just as the high school team got into playoffs, the brace finally broke. What did McDavid do as a customer service courtesy? They sent us a new one to replace it. That's what I call great support.
We've done dozens of reviews in 2012 and tried out some phenomenal products. Now, its come to that time of year when we review what we've reviewed and bring you our favorites. Below, in no particular order, our top five products from 2012:
Professional quality ice wraps, without the wet, sloppy crushed ice. The tiny waffle pockets contain a water-based solution so you get all of the benefits of real ice therapy, without the mess. If you, or someone you know is an athlete or just occasionally overdoes it, this should be in your freezer. Read our review here.
Their pop-up baseball net is just one of dozens of terrific products they carry. Jugs combines innovation with old-fashioned service and commitment to quality, which earns them a spot in our top five. Read our review here.
This one wins the award for biggest surprise of the year. We didn't think we'd be that impressed or excited when we first heard of them. A few custom-designed samples later and we were hooked, (no pun intended). These little souvenir jewelry pieces make a perfect gift for moms, dads, and athletes alike. Read our review here.
If your kids are serious about their baseball, you need to get them the best available. Sometimes that means spending hundreds of dollars. Not with J-Bands. You get top-of-the line quality at a fair and moderate price point. Read our review here.
They look cool. They feel great. They sound awesome. There's another brand of headphones that's gained a lot of popularity recently, but if you want to hear music the way it is supposed to sound and support your favorite team doing it, nothing “beats” SOL. Read our review here.
We look forward to bringing you many more cool and exciting new products in 2013. Thank you for your patronage to SPR and Happy New Year!
Who would have guessed that something as basic as frozen water could have so much science and technology behind it. But after a few minutes speaking with Dan, the owner of Pro Ice, you'll want to ice yourself even if you don't have any pain.
They sent us a kit, containing several of their ice wraps. This is a company more people should know about, and one certain to make our list of top products of the year. The wraps beat traditional ice or gel hands down, and the competition isn't even close.
We've seen high priced ice therapy products that looked fancy and cost a ton, but the big drawback is that they don't work without adding crushed ice. That makes them really no more convenient than an old-fashioned zip lock baggie. You still need to have a cooler of crushed ice at the game or practice to use them.
Pro-Ice is different. First, there's the kit. Looking sort of like a large neoprene lunch box, it holds multiple wraps and sports a convenient carry strap. Toss the entire thing loaded in the freezer, and you can remove wraps one by one, as needed, all ice cold, ready to go. This is perfect for athletic trainers, who can now care for the team by simply having a few kits on hand. No more lugging that heavy cooler and wasting water, time and electricity at the ice machine.
But the real magic is in the wrap itself. The cold comes from inside the multiple pockets in the window pane-format cryoblanket. What's inside that gets cold? Each pocket is filled with distilled water, paraffin, and trace amounts of glycol. Essentially, it's like wrapping yourself with dozens of flexible ice cubes. But unlike ice cubes, these can be re-used over and over for years.
Unlike gel ice packs, Pro Ice provides consistent temperature, which is what gives most effective results. Pro Ice holds at a steady 27 degrees for up to an hour and will not melt, meaning there’s no condensation, no water dripping down the sleeve or pants leg and no puddle left behind.
And since icing works best when paired with compression, Pro Ice’s compression straps keep the ice right where it hurts, allowing the cold to penetrate deep into the muscle. The strap not only consistently applies pressure on the affected body part, it also allows the user to remain mobile. No more sitting propped up for an hour.
Pro Ice is designed for multiple uses, making it more economical than single-use icing. The nylon net is naturally anti-microbial, lessening odor and health risks. Plus it provides a small cushion to lessen initial cold reaction while the giving the cold time to reach anesthetic levels gradually. This additional comfort means an athlete who is averse to the initial shock of cold is more likely to use the product therapeutically. Athletes who regularly ice after practices and games – even in the absence of pain – are less likely to sustain serious injuries down the road.
My baseball-playing sons love the shoulder-elbow combo after they throw. My soccer daughter's sprained ankle healed much quicker than it would have had she iced conventionally. And my lower back, which seems like it should belong to an eighty year-old man after I play basketball, feels like it's been anesthetized after an hour in the wrap. The next day I'm hardly stiff at all.
If you or your children are athletes, if you coach, if you're an athletic trainer, if there's any remote chance at all you might ever need to apply ice to an injury, do yourself a favor and throw a Pro Ice wrap in the freezer. Don't be surprised if you find yourself looking for any old reason to strap it on.
Source: Pro Ice
By the time you read this post, it will likely be obsolete. Rutgers and Maryland are joining the Big Ten. Louisville is going to dash in and take Maryland's spot in the ACC. San Diego State students will look out over the Pacific Ocean ready to play in the Big East. You like March Madness? This is arch madness.
It's a travesty. It's a shame. And someone should do something about it. If the NCAA doesn't have the temerity to step in and put a halt to all of the conference re-shuffling, then maybe a higher power should. If Congress felt it needed to get involved with baseball over steroids, surely this could be on their radar screen as well.
From a fan's perspective, it's a disaster. We love conference rivalry and tradition. It's what makes college sports so special. Remember when Texas – Texas A&M played every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving? Not anymore. Florida – Miami is gone as is Pitt – West Virginia. And maybe the biggest rivalry game lost so far, Nebraska – Oklahoma. And that's just in football. And that's just for now. Who knows how long it will be before Ohio State bolts for greener (as in dollars) pastures and we lose the annual Michigan game. Before USC joins the SEC and bids adieu to the UCLA game. Before Oregon turns pro. The rivalries that made college sports what they are are vanishing fast. And the NCAA better be careful because enough shuffling and confusion, and soon no one will care about their product.
Aside from bemoaning the loss of tradition, there's the moral aspect of it all. A study showed that Missouri's move to the SEC would add $750,000 - $1,000,000 to the university travel budget. This is because what were bus rides are now plane flights and extra night's stays in hotels. Who will foot the bill for this expense? Average students already over-extended on student loans who get hit with tuition fee increases to cover athletic program costs.
And how about the carbon impact of all of this extra travel? In this economy, with the global impact of greenhouse gas emissions already contributing to never-before-seen climate change, can we just sit back and accept that schools are going to be regularly putting over 100 members of a football team on a plane for an away game that ten years ago would have been a two-hour bus ride?
My son, Cade, came up with a solution that we ought to take seriously. He's a baseball player in college, and we've been interested in the Little League World Series since he was ten. He asked, “Why can't the college conferences be like the Little League regions?” i.e. Northwest; Southeast; Great Lakes, etc. He sat down and mapped them out, and here's how it looks:
Stanford, USC, UCLA, Cal, Nevada, Fresno St., San Diego St., Hawaii, UNLV, and San Jose St.
Oregon, Oregon St. Washington, Washington St., Idaho, Boise St., Utah, BYU, Utah St.
Great Plains (8)
Arizona, Arizona St., New Mexico, New Mexico St., Colorado, Colorado St., Wyoming, Air Force
SMU, Houston, Texas Tech, TCU, North Texas, Texas, Texas A&M, Rice, Baylor, UTEP
Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Kansas St., Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Iowa St., Arkansas, Tulsa
Great Lakes (10)
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Northern Illinois, Notre Dame, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Michigan, Michigan St. Toledo, Bowling Green
Illinois, Indiana, Ball State, Purdue, Ohio State, Ohio, Cincinnati, Miami (OH), Marshall, Bowling Green
Gulf Coast (10)
LSU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Tulane, Louisiana Tech, Alabama, Auburn, Louisiana-Monroe, Troy, Mississippi, Mississippi State
Appalachian Valley (9)
Memphis, Arkansas St., Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee St., Tennessee, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Louisville, Kentucky
Florida, Florida State, Central Florida, Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Miami, Georgia, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Clemson
North Carolina, North Carolina St., Wake Forest, Duke, Eastern Carolina, Virginia, Navy, Maryland, Temple
Akron, Kent St., Syracuse, Army, Connecticut, Boston College, Penn State, Pittsburgh
Interesting, isn't it? It's not perfect. For starters, this only applies to FBS schools. And he might have missed one or two, (sorry Old Dominion, Buffalo, Charlotte, UAB and anyone else excluded). And, of course, some conferences appear much weaker than others. But isn't that the way it is now? And might that not change from decade to decade? Plus, if a school like Northern Illinois or Toledo can now say that it will be playing the likes of Michigan, Wisconsin and Notre Dame each year, might they not have a better chance of landing some four-star recruits and turning into powerhouses themselves? Yes, many traditional rivalries are torn up here, but schools have already proven they don't care about this. And if teams like Ohio State and Michigan still want to play each other, even though they're no longer in the same league, that's what the non-conference schedule is for.
So let's take a long, hard look at conference re-alignment. Not in today's insane, jump from one burning ship to another world, but in a way that makes geographic and financial sense. But who am I kidding? Cade's just a dumb twenty-one year old kid who doesn't understand the way the real world works. The experienced athletic directors, college presidents and conference commissioners making back room deals worth millions of dollars know what's best. And we've got a huge, disgusting mess to show for it.