The Sports Archives – Personal and Athletic Health: Regulating F, C, & P

What is F, C, & P? Why, fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, of course! The human body is an organic machine, and its fuel comes directly from one of these three sources. A solid understanding of how each of these substances interacts with the human body is necessary to leading a healthy, balanced lifestyle. In athletics, having the right kind of energy at the right times is vital to maintaining strength, endurance, and wellbeing. Examining how fat, carbs, and protein are broken down for use and how they each represent a unique form of nourishment in the body can help in deciding “which” and “when”.

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Most people attribute carbohydrates to grains and starches (including complex food products comprised of them, like bread). However, fruits and vegetables are often an even better source of carbohydrates, both simple AND complex.

Carbohydrates

            Of the three main forms of energy, carbohydrates are identified as that which burns in the body the fastest. When consumed, these molecules are converted into what is generalized as the term “sugars.” There are two main types of carbs: simple and complex. Simple carbs are small, basic molecules that can be absorbed very quickly, and complex carbs are larger “chains” made up of many of these simpler molecules.

In the context of dietary impact and athletics, carbohydrates immediately provide the energy the body needs for strenuous physical activity, but if they are not absorbed shortly after being consumed, the body will store them as fat instead. As a result, people prone to long periods of inactivity are encouraged to “watch their carb intake” because they are not using what they are eating! Athletes, on the other hand, can benefit from high amounts of carbs before exerting themselves, which is where this form of energy comes in handy!

Proteins

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A simplified graphic that demonstrates the relationship between amino acids and proteins.

            Proteins are molecules comprised of substances called amino acids. Amino acids are a vital component of bodily function, and while some can be “artificially” synthesized, many of the amino acids that humans need to survive cannot. Thus, protein must be acquired from food. Proteins are more complex than any type of carbohydrate, and as a result, are slower to be assimilated into energy.

The role of proteins as a component of the human body is not as direct as carbs or fats. Amino acids are required to repair and fortify most human cell tissue. This is why athletes who are working to gain muscle mass are encouraged to consume more protein than other people. However, if a person is not getting enough energy from food or stored fat, proteins are the next to be burned for energy. Protein’s flexibility and restorative qualities make it a “friend” to athletes everywhere.

Fats

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Protein most often comes from meat and animal sources, carbs from starches and plants, and fats from nuts and healthy oils. However, there are food items that break these patterns! Do not hesitate to seek them out!

            The final major form of energy for the human body comes in the form of fat. In modern society, any source of fat is stigmatized because of the adverse physical effects it can have in excess quantities. It is important to understand, however, that some fat is necessary for survival! Fat molecules are the most complex of the three energy types, and they are also used for several other bodily processes, including growth and hormone synthesis. They are also more efficient than proteins and carbs when the energy that they produce is weighed against quantity consumed. Unfortunately, the body stores excess nutrients as fat molecules because it is such an effective fuel source. Burning fat with exercise is a chore for the same reason.

Understanding the different forms of energy the body utilizes as nutrients is critical to leading a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Sadly, even in the world’s wealthiest countries, food options that contribute to physical fitness and wellbeing are sometimes difficult to find, let alone keep. However, a knowledge of what to look for in a meal is always beneficial, and it paves the way to an optimum, controlled living standard, and, in the case of an athlete, an ideal consumption plan that accomplishes fitness goals and maximizes performance!

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The Sports Archives – Cricket: No, Not the Insect…!

Cricket

Wrong subject.

A candidate for peculiar names in the realm of sports, cricket is an international sporting activity, known most prominently among Eastern-Hemisphere nations. While perhaps not as world-renowned as baseball, cricket does share a few symbolic similarities with America’s pastime sport and is still recognized as one of the most entertaining sports across the globe.

Rules of the Game

Cricket features 2 competing teams, which are typically comprised of 11 players each. Throughout the game, one team is batting while the other is bowling; these postings are offense and defense, respectively.

For bowling, the team captain selects a player to be the ‘bowler’ – his role is like that of a baseball pitcher. 10 of the 11 bowling team members are charged with defending the field of play while the 11th ‘bowls’. This is similar to the mechanics of baseball, in that a single player is responsible for throwing a ball to initiate play.

In the case of cricket, there are 2 ‘wickets’ made up of 3 posts (called ‘stumps’) that face each other in the in-field. The batter of the offensive team stands at one wicket with a cricket bat (described as a wooden blade or paddle-shaped object), while the bowler stands opposite of him at his own wicket.

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An overarching view of a cricket field, compared to that of a standard baseball field. While trace similarities in gameplay may abound, the environment of the action is, quite clearly, not one of them.

The bowler’s objective is to over-hand ‘bowl’ the ball towards the batter’s wicket. A bowler delivers up to 6 balls before he must switch off with another member of the same team. This period is called an ‘over’, and the same bowler may not cover more than a single over consecutively. If the bowler hits the batter’s wicket, the batter is bowled out. If the ball misses the wicket, and just rolls out, the batting team automatically receives 4 ‘runs’ – these runs constitute the point system for the game.

The batter’s objective is to prevent the bowler from striking his own wicket. After each pitch, the ball can be struck into the outer reaches of the field, whereupon it will have to be returned to the infield by the other fielders on the team. The two members of offense that occupy the field continuously will, at this point in time, have the opportunity to tag in between each of the wickets to accumulate runs. However, in travelling between both wickets, both players are susceptible to being caught “out.” As a result, they may choose not to run and instead to remain ‘safe’ in proximity of one of the wickets.

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A progressive evolution demonstrating changes to the cricket bat’s size and shape over the years.

Each game of cricket consists of a set number of innings, each of which ends once 10 (all but one) players on the batting team have been eliminated from play. At this time, teams change roles and a new innings begins.

            History

Cricket is believed to have begun somewhere in Northern Europe, following the conclusion of the Roman Empire. Any sort of game that follows the principle “stick-strikes-ball” mechanic of multiple modern sporting activities has a common root in early sports. Historical evidence of cricket’s first mentions and gameplay occupy the mid-late 1500s, but over the last several centuries, it has refined itself and spread across the planet as a popular sport. In the mid-18th Century, the first written rules of cricket were established, but the game had been played less strictly for over 100 years prior to that. Over the years, rules and regulations were occasionally tweaked to provide for smoother, more logical gameplay instances and neatness of the sport.

            Popularity and Recognition

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A closer view of cricket’s infield. The placement of the bowler, the batter, the two wickets, and the running track between them are clearly visible.

Contrary to what many may believe, the name of the sport has nothing to do with the insect of the same name and is, supposedly, derived from a variety of European roots that mean “stick.” Cricket is recognized quite prominently across the world, managed primarily via the ICC. The International Cricket Council is host to over 100 members worldwide, and is the organization responsible for most international cricket-related affairs and events.

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The Sports Archives – NBA Draft 2016 – Who will be picked first?

Deng shot

With less than 5 months to go until the NBA off-season, the teams are starting to get a good idea of who will be the big names in the NBA draft for this year. But the draft can be unpredictable at times, as last year proved with one of the most surprising drafts in decades.

Before we can really predict which player will be picked first in the NBA draft, we need to know which team will be picking first. But as the first three teams to pick are decided by a lottery system, it’s almost impossible to try to predict the outcome until. Although we can get a good idea of who the first 14 teams to pick will be, and although the worst performing teams get more of a chance of being drawn out first, it’s still near impossible to predict who will be picked in the top 3.

Last year as soon as factors like the draft lottery were decided, the odds of who will be picked first, second and third dropped massively. Last year as soon as the Minnesota Timberwolves were announced to have the first pick, the odds of Karl-Anthony Towns being picked first dropped massively on betting comparison sites like Betting Sports. The team had already shown a lot of interest in him and were true to their word and the young lad from Kentucky was last year’s first pick.

Despite the uncertainty about the team order, the bookmakers and the pundits are already making their predictions of who will be picked first. Of course if you’re impressing in college basketball, no matter what team is picked first you’ll have a good chance of being picked first. At this early stage in the season, there are already two players that are catching every team’s eye.

The first of those is LSU’s Ben Simmons, who at the end of January is averaging an impressive 20.6 points per game. There is a lot of pressure on the young 19-year-old forward who is already being compared to the likes of LeBron James. Despite his incredible performance, there’s also a lot of pressure on him to turn LSU’s fortunes around this season. Simmons is a big name in college basketball in more ways than one, as the freshman stands at a powerful six-foot ten and weighing 239 pounds. Some betting websites already offering odds as low as 3/10 that he’ll be the first overall pick before we even know who will be picking first.

The other name most teams will be keeping a close eye on is fellow forward Brandon Ingram. The freshman from Duke is almost as tall as Simmons at an impressive six-foot nine but weights over 40 pounds less at 196 pounds. Ingram has averaged 16.4 points per game up to January for Duke thanks to his big wingspan that he puts to good effect with his impressive shooting ability. Compared to the start of the season, Ingram has improved massively and was named as CBS Sports’ Freshman of the week both in December and January.

Many will be surprised if these two aren’t the first two picked in the NBA draft, but a lot can change between now and June. So keep an eye on those betting comparison sites, especially after the lottery has been drawn, for more confident odds on who will be picked first.

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The Sports Archives – The Intricacies of Throwing a Football

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While there is no “tried-and-true correct” way to hold a football, this set-up is among the most common, especially for beginners. Note that only the 4th and 5th fingers grip the lace.

The NFL’s 2016 Super Bowl is rapidly approaching, and players are still in the thick of competition to see which 2 teams will be representing this year. In any professional, competitive sport, players consistently demonstrate high-level playing mechanics and complex strategies as they work to systematically come out ahead of the opposing team, but much of the knowledge and awareness that goes into creating athletic “experts” is lost to a spectator. As a result, many people are often surprised that they are, themselves, unable to duplicate even what a true athlete makes seem like the simplest techniques on the field. Indeed, something that seems trivial (for example, successfully swinging a golf club) has much more that goes into it, and the all-stars that dominate professional sports are those that are able to maximize the impact of every move they make; this perpetual pursuit towards perfection is a principle of all great sports. But even the pros had to start somewhere. This article attempts to break apart a successful throw, examining factors such as power, precision, and practice…

Preparation: One of the Most Forgotten Procedures

Even if you do not plan on throwing a football around for long, it is still a good idea to warm up and prepare yourself. The art of properly throwing a football involves the entire body – not just the arms. As a result, thorough stretching is a must! Beginning with light physical activities – jogging, jumping-jacks, etc. – will provide muscles with energy and strength without putting too much stress on the body.

Technique: Setting up a Proper Throw

           

When attempting correct placement in the process of throwing, it sometimes help to imagine that one is “bracing a right triangle” between torso and forearm. The 90-degree angle formed between the forearm and shoulder increases stability and power during launch.

At first, a football can be large, heavy, and unwieldy for some; this makes technique all the more critical in managing and throwing it. The most fundamental manner of holding a football involves off-set placement of the hand away from the tip. The thrower should position their 4th and 5th fingers over the lace of the football, while the 1st and 2nd remain more towards the facing pointed end. In a proper grip, the fingers do all the work and the palm is risen off the surface of the ball. First-time throwers should avoid clamping excessively on the ball, as this can reduce the potency

the throw.

Technique does not end at hand placement! Immediately before the ball is tossed, the thrower should position his body at a right angle to his receiver. A high amount of force can then be generated by the thrower twisting his body, without any loss in accuracy.

Power: How to Maximize Distance

            The process of refining one’s throwing technique is predicated on a central motif; maximize power BUT with no loss to control. Indeed, precision is immensely important when it comes to throwing a football, but this does not necessarily mean that power is worth sacrificing!

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While it may be a crude realization, the mechanisms behind the spiral of a football and the spin of a bullet are not all that different in aerodynamic principle.

For the actual mechanics of generating power, the feat is, in fact, more related to physics than individual strength. The thrower should raise the ball at about the level of his head, so that his elbow and forearm make a 90-degree angle. He must then launch the ball in almost a “catapult”-like fashion. This will lead to a clean arc when the ball is released, and, provided the thrower’s finger placement was correct, the ball should fly accurately. A slight ‘snap’ of the wrist is what generates the spiraling motion that is characteristic of footballs, and the surging motion of the thrower’s entire body is what generates the optimum amount of force.

As a player gains more practice and experience handling a football, new throwing techniques are made available. However, the fundamentals will remain the same across all different types of passes, and will always be important to an elegant, successful throw.

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The Sports Archives – The Best Amateur Golf Tournaments In Ireland 2016

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Ireland is renowned as one of the top golfing destinations in the world. And, with its combination of top-class courses and breathtaking scenery, it’s little wonder that it’s so popular with golfers the world over. If you want to put your golfing skills to the test in 2016, why not enter one of the many amateur golf tournaments that Ireland has to offer? We’ve rounded up some of the best.

4th Social Media Open
18-23 April, 2016

Taking place in the South and South East of Ireland, the Social Media Open tournament offers the opportunity to play on some of the most beautiful links and parkland courses in the region, including Ballybunion Golf Club (Cashen Course), Ballybunion Golf Club (Old Course), Dooks Golf Club and Tralee Golf Club. The tournament is open to both men and women, and play is in a pairs team format. Deadline for registration is 18 March, 2016.

The Down Spring Links Trophy
26-30 April, 2016

Now in its 18th year, the Down Spring Links Trophy takes place on three of the best courses in the Northern Ireland – Ardglass Golf Club, Kirkistown Castle Golf Club, and Royal County Down Golf Club. The event is open to men and women and, as well as competing to be crowned the Down Spring Trophy Champion, golfers also have the opportunity to win daily competitions and prizes, such as longest drive and nearest the pin. Entries close on 15 April, 2016.

12th Laois International Golf Challenge
15-20 May, 2016

A hugely popular and well-established tournament, the Laois International Golf Challenge welcomes golfers of all abilities and from many different parts of the world. Competitors can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, sociable environment and the opportunity to play on some of the best courses in Ireland’s Ryder Cup Region. Entries must be received by 29 April, 2016.

Donegal Links Classic
29 May-2 June, 2016

The Donegal Links Classic is one of the best known and most popular amateur golf tournaments in Ireland. Playing in a Singles and Team Stableford format, men and women competitors can enjoy three days of golf at the country’s most northerly course. The event is rounded off on the third day with a presentation evening. Submit your entry no later than 20 May 2016.

4th North West Open
30 June-4 July, 2016

In recent years, the Midlands of Ireland has grown in popularity as a golfing destination. Entrants in this competition will get to play on three of the best courses in the region – Slieve Russell Golf Club, Headfort Golf Club (New), and Farnham Estate Golf Club. Confirm your North West Golf entry by 3 June, 2016.

6th Atlantic Coast Golf Challenge
3-7 July, 2016

If you like to combine your golf with stunning views of the countryside and the Atlantic Ocean, then the Atlantic Coast Golf Challenge is definitely for you. The tournament is played on three fantastic links courses – Carne Golf Club, Enniscrone Golf Club and Co. Sligo Golf Club (Rosses Point) – and entrants benefit from a significant discount on the usual cost of playing on these courses. Enter by 3 June, 2016.

6th Two Sisters Golf Tournament
7-10 July, 2016

Taking place in the picturesque town of Kenmare on the Ring of Kerry, the Two Sisters Golf Tournament is a women-only event taking place over two days. As well as some first-class golfing, Kenmare golf course also offers fantastic views over Kenmare Bay and the nearby mountains. You must hold a current playing handicap to enter this event, and entries must be received by 24 June, 2016.

Lough Erne & Links Challenge
17-21 July, 2016 (TBC)

The Lough Erne & Links Challenge takes place in the Donegal and Enniskillen areas during peak season. The chosen courses for this tournament are Narin & Portnoo Golf Club, Donegal Golf Club (Murvagh Links), and the Faldo Championship Course at Lough Erne Resort – one of Rory McIlroy’s favourite clubs. The tournament is played in teams four, and there are opportunities to win individual and team prizes on each day of the competition. The deadline for entries is 1 July, 2016.

West Coast Challenge
4-9 September, 2016

This 72-hole tournament is played over Bundoran Golf Club, Donegal Golf Club (Murvagh Links), Strandhill Golf Club and Enniscrone Golf Club – some  of the top links courses on the West coast of Ireland. Located amidst rolling mountains and stunning sea views, this event offers a challenging test to even the most experienced golfers. The event is open to men and women, and must be entered by 12 August, 2016.

Great North Links Challenge
12-14 October, 2016

Taking place in Ireland’s winter season, and all the inclement weather that entails, this tournament is often seen as the ultimate test for amateur golfers. Taking place on Ballyliffin Golf Club (Glashedy Links), Royal Portrush Golf Club (Dunluce Links) and Portstewart Golf Club (Strand Course), this is an exciting and popular event, attracting over 300 entrants. Both men and women can enter this tournament, but must do so before 23 September, 2016.

When it comes to amateur golf tournaments, Ireland really does have something for everyone, no matter your golfing style or preference. However, if a tournament isn’t for you, don’t let that put you off visiting. An organised golf tour can help you to tailor a trip to your preferences and ability, helping you to full enjoy everything the Emerald Isle has to offer.

Featured images:
  •  License: Image author owned

Adrian Stanley is the founder of AGS Golf Vacations, which specialises in arranging golf tours to the home of golf.

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The Sports Archives – Martin Luther King/Desegregation of Sports

Martin_Luther_King_Jr_Pool

Some people believe that Martin Luther King’s enthusiasm for and skills in billiards helped earn him respect early on in his civil rights career!

When it comes to athletics and Martin Luther King, Jr., there is not much to say about him personally; aside from an enthusiasm for pocket billiards, his sports background is not particularly eye-catching. Despite limited involvement as an individual, however, King recognized the important role that sports played (and continue to play today) in delivering lasting cultural impact and invoking change in society. Indeed, the status of sports as an instrumental component of revolution in the modern world is under-recognized. In the history of the United States, the relationship between race and sports has been nothing short of complex.

Segregation of Sports in the 20th Century

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Jackie Robinson, the first African-American MLB player, made his first appearance among the major leagues in 1947, forever breaking the ‘color barrier’ over professional baseball in the United States.

In the early-1900s, sports across America largely recognized the separation of white and black athletes. Methods and formatting varied depending on the particular sport; professional baseball commonly had leagues specifically for non-whites (these leagues, though not exclusively dominated by them, were primarily occupied by African-Americans) which operated as the ‘status quo’ well into the 1950’s. The complete, official integration of both the National Basketball League (a partial precursor to the modern NBA) and the National Football League came about before the latter half of the 20th Century. Despite decisive desegregation of sports in the United States, time remained a requirement for change, and the blending of different racial backgrounds in sports has yet been gradual. However, in 2012, the National Football League and the National Basketball Association boasted African-American athletes as the majority for each professional sport’s player base, ranking in at 66% for the NFL and 78% for the NBA. Both baseball and soccer trail behind these numbers, but not by overwhelming margins. Time will tell if racial diversity expands in professional American sports leagues.

The Role of Sports in National Unification

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Words of wisdom to live by for anyone, anywhere. They also come in handy for fast-paced sports!

It is always important to acknowledge the impact sports have on a country’s cultural development. As an ever-popular source of global entertainment, the deeper details and decisions made surrounding commercialized sports have the potential to make bold and heavy-handed statements on society. Even an issue as divisive as segregation in America throughout the 20th Century, sports played a meaningful part in unifying different social backgrounds, causing it to function as a less-than-conventional platform of change. Martin Luther King recognized sports as more than societal entertainment, viewing them for the deeper purposed that they served – as another means to get through to the people of America.

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The Sports Archives – Flaky Weather? A ‘Reliable’ Selection of Sports

This winter, weather for many regions of North America has been, mildly speaking, unpredictable. The erratic rise and fall of temperature and climate conditions has made every day a meticulous “gamble”; will it be warm and calm? Breezy and chilly? Is rain (or snow) to be expected soon? Unfortunately, due to the outdoor playing environment inherent to many sports, recreational participation in a wide selection of them has been impossible to maintain for many Americans this season. Fear not, however! For as many outdoor sports as are being disrupted, there remains many more unaffected by weather. Here are several indoor sports or sporting activities you can participate in if your faith in good weather has been temporarily shaken!

The rapid progression of the seasons can make it difficult to make time for one’s favorite sport. Some sports are utterly unplayable in the wrong climates! What alternative sporting activities exist, then, that can persist even in the face of changing weather and temperature?

Basketball – Perhaps the most globally-renowned indoor sport, basketball is played across the planet, both competitively and recreationally, and holds its reputation as a reliable sport in virtually any weathering environment or outdoor climate. The only true weakness (which is, arguably, also a strength) of basketball is its dependency on an indoor arena or gymnasium to play. Not only is the sport generally played in an enclosed environment, some of the game’s core mechanics cannot be accomplished outside!

Indoor Cycling – Mountain biking, cycling, and bicycle racing are all fast and fun sporting activities. But if the weather outside is harsh or unfavorable, is there no alternative? Think again! Static bicycle stations offer the full workout and motion of a bike without moving. This, coupled with their compact design, allows them to be placed indoors, sometimes in grouped clusters (as is the case with most gyms). While the scenery might not be as great, modern static cycles also track important information, like distance pedaled, time spent biking, and even the number of calories burned! What better way to keep the competition fresh and alive than with some artificial assistance?

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Ping pong’s compact size is part of what makes it a manageable indoor sport.

Ping Pong/Table Tennis – The unbound nature of the outdoors sometimes makes tennis impossible to play, but ping pong, or table tennis as it is also known, can be played anytime and anywhere! Perhaps the name “table tennis” is a tad misleading, for although the rules and style of ping pong is comparable to real tennis, it is no substitute. Nevertheless, this indoor sport is still fun, fast-paced, and depending on the intensity of the competition, highly aerobic.

Billiards

Billiards and chess are more “skill-based” than many other sports. This can have the side-effect of being unsavory, or contrarily, more enjoyable for sports enthusiasts.

Chess – While not as taxing as other sports from an athletic perspective, chess is a high-stakes one-on-one strategy game that can be played between anyone, anywhere. This game’s recognition as a “sport” comes not from physical demand, but rather its massive cultural following and competitive nature.

Pool/Pocket Billiards – Another indoor sport common both as entertainment in local activity hotspots and also as a sporting activity in organized competitions. Like chess, billiards is a high skill sport with fairly low physical demands. In bad weather, it can be a “relaxing” alternative to a physical, outdoor sport like football or volleyball.

Racquetball – A frantic, boxed-in type of racquet sport (comparable to tennis), racquetball utilizes walls and floor markings as integral components to gameplay and rules. The necessitation of these artificial additions to the environment prompts most racquetball games are played in an indoor court; however, in as much as tennis is commonly played outdoors (but can be fielded in an indoor court) racquetball is its polar counterpart. While it can serve as an alternative to other racquet sports, players must be prepared for more focused, erratic, and overall faster-paced game.

 

E-Sports – E-sports are gaining rapid popularity with the evolution of mankind’s technology faculties, as are the competitive organization techniques that host and promote such activities. While no substitute for “the classics”, e-sports replicate the competitive and entertaining qualities of most sports while conceding physical requirements and large-scale team-coordinated strategy. While a vastly different ‘flavor’ of sport than most are used to, however, e-sports also remain uninhibited by seasonal and weather changes; in fact, the competitive formatting of most e-sports is scheduled more on a basis of familiar annual timing rather than that of necessary environmental conditions.

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While these are among the more renowned sports “unbound by climate,” with the proper measures taken, virtually any sport can be played in an indoor/artificial environment.

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