Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rooting for Goliath

When given a choice, most people will root for David before ever cheering for Goliath. That is why I was in a strange situation on Sunday afternoon, when I was cheering for Kansas over Virginia Commonwealth University in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. I was actively cheering for the number-one seed to beat the number-11 seed, an urban state school in Richmond, Va., that most people hadn’t heard of before the tournament. 

No, I wasn’t cheering for Kansas because of my bracket (though I did have the Jayhawks taking it all), but because I legitimately wanted Kansas to win. After they beat up on the ultimate David, the 16 seed and my Alma mater Boston University in the first round, I had to cheer for them. Plus, I feel as though I have a semi-vested interest because my brother is buddies with one of the Kansas starting-five.

Even as I cheered for the number-one seed, I felt like I was doing something fundamentally wrong. I was disgusted in myself as I cheered for the Jayhawks to come back from a double-digit deficit; as I stood on my feet when they pulled within two points; and as I wallowed in their defeat to “David.”

So why do we in the U.S. always cheer on David? Why would we all cheer against the programs that work hard to be the best, and put the time and money into being the best? 

Because we like to feel like anything is possible, that’s why. We like to watch a game and believe that VCU can beat Kansas, or Butler can beat the University of Pittsburgh. We want to believe that on any given day, anyone can win. That’s why we reveled in Appalachian State’s victory in football over the University of Michigan a couple of years ago, and VCU’s win on Sunday.

And there is no greater place to cheer on the underdog than in the NCAA tournament. It’s the only place where, on a regular basis, year-after-year, we see the lower seed team topple the higher-ranked team, where the less-known programs have a shot to topple the powerhouse programs. 

And this year is certainly no different, as for only the third time ever, no number-one seeded team reached the Final Four.

Of course in the Final Four, the two Davids left are playing each other, as VCU and Butler square off in the semis. This brings about a conundrum – if you are rooting solely for the underdog, then certainly the VCU Rams are the team to cheer for. But if you want to root for the team that has the best chance of beating the Goliath-division team – in this case, UConn or Kentucky – then you should probably cheer for Butler, the so-called underdog who lost in the championship to UNC last year.

In the end, I’ve jumped back on the David bandwagon and will be cheering on the underdog in the championship, whether it’s Butler or VCU. Because in the long run, there’s nothing any sports fan loves more than a Cinderella story.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Work on yourself

Why is it that it’s so difficult to do well, and so easy to throw it away?

That statement can be taken about 10,000 different ways, so let me be more clear. Losing weight is so very hard, yet we can put on a few pounds without even realizing it. You work out four or five days a week, diet and if you’re lucky you lose a pound or two in a week. And dieting is hard. I hate dieting. I don’t mean eating healthy, I mean really dieting – where you change your habits and deprive yourself. 

Some people have a lot of weight to lose, some a little, and some just need to maintain their healthy lifestyle. But our weight is an indicator of our health, and it’s something that too many of us let fall by the wayside. The most important thing a person can do for themselves is to live a healthy lifestyle and that includes maintaining a healthy weight, which prevents medical conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. 

We all know we should eat right and exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight, but so many of us don’t do it. We stay at work late and can’t find the time to get to the gym; we are tired, so we skip the gym; or we have to run to an appointment and eat something quick, and make the wrong food decision. Every day we have the option to find an excuse, and we need to find the drive to not make excuses – we have to find the proper mindset and routine.

I’ve been in the mindset and out of it numerous times in my life. When you get a new job, or you meet someone new, or you have a child, the gym suddenly gets harder and harder to fit in and we tend to eat quicker, less healthy and nutritious foods. We lose sight of our health, without even realizing it.

We spend 10 minutes showering in the morning, 20 minutes on our hair and makeup and 10 minutes more trying to figure out what to wear; yet we can always find an excuse not to spend 45 minutes at the gym. We’ll spend that much time getting our nails done, but can’t find the time to work on our health. 

So when did it become OK to be overweight? What I mean is, it shouldn’t be seen as acceptable to be overweight. We need to stop making excuses for being lazy and making bad decisions – we need to take care of ourselves. Weight shouldn’t be seen merely as a vanity issue, but a health issue. Being overweight is an unnecessary health risk.

And I know working out is hard, and the results aren’t immediate, which is I think where the hesitation lies. When we spend 30 minutes doing our hair, we have instant gratification; but with our fitness, we don’t see the results immediately, and as a society we are too impatient for that. But if you work out regularly, you will see results – there’s no doubt about that. You just have to have patience, and be consistent. You have to continuously make better decisions, and find the time to work on you.

So I challenge each and every one of you reading this – get out and exercise today. Go for a run, use cardio equipment, free weights, swim some laps in the pool or take a fun fitness classes . Even if you don’t have time to go to the gym, take a 20 minute walk at lunch. 

Working out should be fun, you just have to find what is fun for you. For me, it’s Zumba, I have fun and get a great workout! Find what works for you, and start getting the body you deserve!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

And the sports Oscar goes to...

The most anticipated awards show of the year took place this past weekend, as the Oscars were handed out to the best in cinema. Watching the show on Sunday night, it brought some questions into my head – who are the best actors in the sports world? After immense debate, irritating nomination campaigning and vote bribing, here are the winners:

Best Supporting Actor – Michael Vick.
At the beginning of the season, no one was surprised that the Eagles traded Donovan McNabb. What they were surprised about was that Philly didn’t trade Michael Vick. People couldn’t believe that the “Wildcat gimmick” was the primary backup to Kevin Kolb. Fast forward two weeks into the season, when Kolb went down with a concussion and Vick had to step in – there was no Wildcat offense in sight, just a steady, athletic quarterback who could do things on his feet that no other signal caller in the league can do.
He became the starter, and finished second to Tom Brady in Offensive Player of the Year voting. Not bad for a guy who started the season in a supporting role.
Runner up: Chris Bosh, for sitting back and letting LeBron James and Dwyane Wade star in Miami.

Best Supporting Actress – Deanna Favre.
Early in the season, Vikings quarterback Brett Favre was accused of sending suggestive text messages to a woman who worked for the New York Jets in 2008. Favre never denied the allegations. Yet, his wife stood by his side.
She finally spoke out about a month after the allegations took place, to Good Morning America.
"I'm a woman of faith," Deanna Favre told Good Morning America. "Faith has gotten me through many difficult struggles. It will get me through this one."
A classy answer from a classy lady. She didn’t run to the tabloids, she chose to handle the situation internally, between herself and her husband.
This award has nothing to do with my opinion of Brett Favre or his texting scandal. Deanna Favre is a breast cancer survivor, and she has helped her husband through problems with substance abuse and this most recent scandal. He is lucky to have her in his corner.

Best actor – Every soccer team. 
I am a soccer lover, but the one thing I hate about the professional game is the diving. It’s so fake, and obviously fake, and I don’t understand how the referees can possibly believe it. And it turns off Americans who are watching for the first time. Soccer’s integrity is at stake because diving has become part of the European and South American game.
There are those who actually defend diving, saying it is an extended practice open to both sides. But soccer does not flourish when diving occurs. On the contrary, when diving is tolerated, accepted and celebrated, soccer’s integrity as a sport comes into question.
There have been numerous cases where a dive has garnered a penalty kick, therefore altering the score of the game, and too often, changing the outcome. And this continues to be a regular occurrence. That is, until late 2009, when the leagues took a stand. In a UEFA Champion’s League game against Celtic, Arsenal’s Eduardo da Silva dived, winning a penalty kick. He scored on the kick, and his team ended up winning 3-1, and advanced to the tournament’s group stage. UEFA officials, however, retrospectively punished Eduardo with a two-game suspension for “deceiving the referee.”
Finally. The only way we can end diving is by punishing the “best actors” in the game.
            Best Actress – Kim Clijsters.
This one was tricky. It’s not an Olympic year, so women’s sports are really on the backburner. In 2010, Lindsay Vonn was named AP Female Athlete of the Year. But a year after the Olympics, she is no longer a household name. The Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova, the world’s most famous female athletes, are struggling with injuries and have fallen in the ranks.
Then, Clijsters won the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year, to follow up her title at the U.S. Open in 2010.
Clijsters has been at the top of her game as of late, and it is actually her second go-around in the game. In 2007, at the age of 23 with two U.S. Open championships under her belt, the Belgian retired because of chronic injuries and to get married and start a family.
In 2009, Clijsters announced her comeback, and has risen to number one in the world (though currently number two), and has won the last two Grand Slams. All while juggling a husband and a three-year-old daughter.
Kim Clijsters might not be the face of Women’s Tennis, but she should be an inspiration to all women, who wonder how they can successfully juggle their personal and professional lives.
            So there you have it – the best at their roles in the sports world, in my opinion.