The Sports Archives – The Story Of Jackie Robinson

jackie robinson statue

It is common for modern baseball fans to ask why Jackie Robinson is such a famous name in the sport. Not everyone is aware of the history of bigotry and racism Robinson had to deal with throughout his entire baseball career – before, during and after he joined the major leagues. Robinson was the first African-American who played in the MLB, and he was also one of the best second basemen the sport has ever seen. His achievements, which included a batting average of .311, over 1,500 hits and 137 home runs, are impressive enough when you discount his upbringing and the struggles he faced. But when you factor those things into his career, it is clear why Jackie Robinson is a baseball legend.

Meager Beginnings

Robinson grew up in meager surroundings in Cairo, Georgia. His parents were sharecroppers, but they did not stay in Georgia very long. Robinson’s father left them a year after he was born, and the family moved to California to find a new beginning. Robinson’s introduction to baseball came at the John Muir High School, where he started playing sports with his school mates and his brothers. All his friends and family recognized that Jackie Robinson was a special athletic talent – he had something special that none of the other kids possessed when he got on the field. He won awards with his school baseball, basketball, football and track teams.

His Strength and Talent

His sports prowess won him a scholarship to UCLA, where he managed to obtain varsity letters for FOUR different sports: football, track, basketball and baseball. Robinson was an athlete star the likes of which UCLA had never seen before. Unfortunately, the color of his skin meant that racism and bigotry were never far away from Robinson, and he was one of the few black men on those teams at UCLA.

WWII

By 1942, Robinson had a commitment to his nation that he was obligated to see through: he was drafted to fight in the World War after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. His military career was not without scandal, due to some incidents of racist abuse from his superior officers. However, Robinson was acquitted of any charges that were brought against him, and he eventually received an honorable discharge from the military two years later.

The Birth of a Legend

When Robinson went back to school after the military, the calls began to come from professional baseball teams. And his first professional team was the Kansas City Monarchs, who played in the now defunct Negro Leagues. Through his perseverance and skill, Robinson eventually made his way through the Negro Leagues and Minor Leagues, until he got to the Major League.

He was the first black man to play in the Major League since the color line had been established in 1880, and he drew tens of thousands of black baseball fans to games for the LA Dodgers. Robinson often received racial abuse from opposing players and fans, but he was committed to practicing nonviolent resistance to such antics.

Baseball fans will remember Robinson for his wonderful athletic prowess, and Americans will remember him for his great character and his contributions to the civil rights moments of the time.

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The Sports Archives – 1992 U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball Team: The Dream Team

1992 U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball Team

The “Dream Team” of 1992 brought gold medal glory to the United States in the men’s basketball competition, and showed the world what kind of basketball talent resided in America. While the United States has always presented very good basketball teams, and some of their teams following the 1992 Olympics have been just as impressive, the 1992 team is special for one significant reason: they were the first team to feature active players from the NBA. Featuring the likes of Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Magic Johnson, the Dream Team showcased the best American talent from the NBA for the world to see.

How it Began

It was the first time American fans had gotten a chance to see their favorite NBA heroes playing with each other at the Olympic Games. Coached by the great Chuck Daley, the Dream Team did a lot more than win the Olympic Gold – they absolutely demolished all their opponents during the Olympic run. They won their first game by 68 points, which set the tone for the rest of the tournament. They went undefeated, smashing teams by 33, 43, 44, 41, 38 and 51 points on their way to the gold medal game. They won the gold medal game by 32 points against Croatia, capping off one of the most dominant team performances in Olympics basketball history.

Dominance

No team came close to the Dream Team during those Olympic Games, and their dominant performances did not shock any basketball fans. Even if the team had contained one or two of those NBA stars, they would probably have gone on to win the tournament. However, when your team consists of a combination of some of the best NBA players of all time, and they are all at or close to the peak of their careers, you end up with something truly special. Seeing the likes of Jordan, Pippen, Johnson and Larry Bird playing with each other is something you do not forget any time soon.

Overcoming Doubt

One of the most incredible facts about the Dream Team is something many modern fans do not know: the Americans were initially very reluctant about the prospect of NBA players competing in the Olympics. Most of the NBA teams were not enthused about the idea of their players having to play in another high-profile tournament during the summer, given the grueling schedule they already had to handle for the NBA.

The Dream

It was only when the team got together and started to play in scrimmages and tournaments that the enthusiasm ratcheted up to an entirely new level. Suddenly, everyone was on board with the idea of NBA players competing in the Olympics. The team warmed up for those games by winning the Tournament of the Americas in resounding fashion, going undefeated and beating Venezuela by 47 points in the gold medal game. It set the scene for what was to follow, and the world will probably never forget the 1992 “Dream Team” put forward by the United States in men’s basketball.

 

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The Sports Archives – Gymnastics Icons: Kerri Strug

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One of the most famous and popular gymnasts the world has ever seen, Kerri Strug faced adversity head on ever since she was a child, and she always came out on top. Competing in the Atlanta Olympics back in 1996 may have been Kerri Strug’s crowning achievement, given she won the team gold with the United States, but it is the hard work and dedication she gave to her sport that really sets her apart from the other prestigious champions of her generation. Strug began her road to the Olympics at the age of three, when she started training in gymnastics.

The First Competition

Strug’s first competition came at the age of eight, and her family eventually moved to Houston, Texas so she could train with the famous gymnastics coach, Bela Karolyi. It also marked the moment when she joined the United States’ national gymnastics team as its youngest member. When she took to the mats in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Strug was only 14 years old, but she helped the team win a bronze medal during those Olympic games. Unfortunately, she was edged out by her own teammates in the race to compete in the all-around finals, but her performance was still remarkable for a 14-year-old.

A defining Moment

When her coach and mentor, Bela Karolyi, decided to retire after the 1992 Olympic Games, Strug found herself at a bit of a crossroads. She was unsure about whether to continue with gymnastics, or pursue some other dream. Eventually, she decided to stick with gymnastics, as it was the sport she loved above anything else. She found a new coach in Steve Nunno, and she moved to Edmon, Oklahoma to train for the next major events and the 1996 Olympic Games. The time period between the two Olympic Games is probably what defined Strug’s entire career.

Sustaining Injuries

During an event in 1994, Strug had an issue with her uneven bars routine, which resulted in her releasing too early and losing control of her motion. The result was Struss landing in an awkward position in the middle of a routine and seriously injuring her back. Her teammates and coaches feared the worst at the time, but it turned out to be a badly pulled muscle in her back. She would be able to return to competition, but the rehabilitation was grueling, and most gymnasts struggle to recapture their old form following a serious injury.

The Atlanta Games showed the resilience and tenacity of Keri Strug, because she managed to help the United States win team gold despite injuring herself during her first vault attempt. Strug badly hurt her ankle during the first attempt, yet she managed to find the inner strength and tenacity to get up and complete another vault. Despite running and jumping on what was effectively one foot, Strug managed to get a respectable score on her vault, and her second attempt was enough to get the United States over the line for team gold. It is this type of sacrifice and team ethic that made Strug a gymnast we will never forget.

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The Sports Archives – Extreme Wingsuit Flying

Dubai Wingsuit Flying Trip

Wingsuit flying is the one sport which can help humans fly in the air without the use of helicopters or jets. The experience is like a bird flying in the air which is so exhilarating for the human being that it becomes a wonderful invention to all the world. Everyone would like to fly in the air like a bird or butterfly and that passion definitely comes true by this neat invention. The Wingsuit is stretched cloth under the arm and between the human legs and enables humans to have lift while descending. People need to concentrate while flying because this is not natural to a human as it is to birds which have real wings! One gets to become a super hero in the way that they always dreamed of!

Safe Process To Wingsuit Flying

Wingsuit flying is one of the most dangerous sports in the world because if you suddenly fall in acceleration and the wings are not supporting you, it can lead to serious injury and even death. There are now newer safety measures and technology introduced  airbags and Aeronautics engineering which help to ensure a safer experience.

Quality Of The Wingsuits

In earlier times, Wingsuits were made of canvas, wood, silk, whale bone and steel, however, these materials did not prove reliable.  Today’s modern Wingsuit has evolved from many trials and the persistence of many people, some of whom died while flying and improving the cause. Two names that were instrumental in Wingsuit design are John Carta and Patrick de Gayardon.   Their improvements have led to better and safer experiences for all to enjoy today.

Tips For Wingsuit Flying

Wingsuit flying is a wonderful sport and one leaves with a feeling of great achievement and satisfaction.  However proper preparation is a must requirement and this is not a sport for the faint of heart.

A person should:

  • Practice a minimum 50 BASE jumps.
  • Work on being “cool under pressure” and very comfortable in the BASE environment.
  • Have good practice and jumping skills.
  • Should have extraordinary canopy flying skills before attempting the fly and should have good landing skills.

People should feel comfortable in a Wingsuit as if they were wearing pajamas.  Flying a Wingsuit while skydiving is different from just plain vanilla skydiving.  See the United States Parachute Association (USPA) for more information about the requirements and restrictions of Wingsuit flying.  Other nations impose similar constraints.   Some manufacturing companies of Wingsuits offer instruction courses and will certify trainers to assist would-be jumpers and help them prepare for this adventure sport.

All extreme sports have a dangerous aspect which is why they are called ‘extreme’.  People need to adhere to the safety measures and precautions provided, participate and pay attention to instruction and be ‘extremely’ knowledgeable in preparation and execution of any extreme sport.

Gaetano Esposito is co-author of this article, he is a famous blogger, he also writes for Eleventy Traveller blog.

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The Sports Archives – How I Signed my Kids up for Rock Climbing

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As a sports family we’ve tried it all. My oldest went through the gauntlet of backyard baseball, intramural soccer, and finally tennis in middle school. He doesn’t do anymore sports, but he does play with a golf simulator on his computer, so I know that the lessons have stuck with him.

In spite of past experience, however, we were lost when it came to finding a sport that our two youngest, 9 and 11, could do together. These two are attached at the hip, but they can’t play on the same team in a lot of sports because of the age difference and gender separation in sports.

I was about to throw in the towel when I was hit by inspiration. I was at the farmer’s market a few months ago and I saw an unfamiliar booth. For some context, it’s not uncommon for local businesses to come down to the market just to hand out their cards, whether or not they’ve got much of anything to do with farming or homemade crafts.

This week it was a group from the local climbing gym who had come out. They were handing out flyers and had some of the tools they use for demonstration. One thing in particular that caught my eye was their kid’s program. I asked the woman behind the table about it. She was very friendly and told me about how they offer after school kid’s programs. They break up the age groups into 6-8 and 9-12, so I knew that I’d hit the jackpot. There’s also no gender separation in rock climbing, so my two youngest could do it together with no trouble.

After doing some research to make sure that it was totally safe (I’m a mom, it’s what I do), I quickly signed my kids up. Here’s a report on how things have been going so far.

The kids were super excited when I first brought up the idea. My husband also pointed out that climbing had just been accepted into the 2020 Olympics, so it was definitely as real a sport as anything else we’ve done in the family. The first few weeks I stayed close just to see how they were going to treat the kids, how much fun everyone was having, and just generally to make sure I’d made a good decision. For those of your wondering where my husband is in this, he usually sticks to his own dad adventures and leaves the day-to-day with the kids to me.

The first session filled me with glee and worried me a little at the same time. They spent a lot of time talking about safety, how to use the ropes, what to do when you fall, how to stretch properly, and all this stuff that sports moms geek out about. The kids, though, looked a little bored as time went on. Every child got a chance to go up and have the instructors show them one-on-one how to clip the rope into their harnesses with their carabiner. I thought this was super important since the ropes catches you if you fall, but it took so long for each kid to go up, have the instructor show them what to do, then do it the right way on their own. I was worried my kids were going to nod off before it was their turn.

Fortunately, however, things picked up pretty quickly after that. As soon as they started climbing on the huge wooden walls with plastic holds the kids were unstoppable. I’m not ashamed to say that my girl and boy were a little scared of going too high at first, but once they got the hang of it they were practically flying up the wall. The instructors were very good with kids, too, and clearly had some training about how to be patient with kids who are doing something new in an unfamiliar environment.

All in all I have to say that signing my kids up for rock climbing was a resounding success. I’d recommend it to any other moms out there who are looking for some unconventional sports to get their kids into. It’s great for staying healthy and my kids tell me that it’s a ton of fun. I might even try it myself soon.

Brooke Faulkner

 

 

 

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The Sports Archives – How To Improve Your Golf Game

Improve Your Drive – the Most Basic Basics

Many golfers will tell you the drive is the most difficult part of the game to master. There are several reasons for this, and they land in both mental and physical aspects of the game. On the physical side, the main reason is that the driver is the least forgiving of the clubs. Because of the greater distance that the ball will (hopefully) travel, small mistakes are amplified. From a mental standpoint, the driver is the most intimidating and most frustrating of the clubs, and the drive is the most public of swings. For the golfer who wants to focus on his or her drive, it appears to be a tough, uphill battle. However, if you take everything one step at a time, resist frustration, and stay calm, it’s a challenge that can be overcome.

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The Mental Game

Golf is supposed to be fun, remember? Then again, isn’t it the challenge that makes it fun? Golf is an extremely mental sport. It’s important to get your head in the right place so that you don’t allow small mistakes to ruin your game or push your frustration into the red zone. Your mind will play tricks, so here are a few tricks that you can play in return.

  1. Be Patient – If you know that you can hit the ball 200 yards right down the middle of the fairway, that may be the better option than trying to belt it 300 yards every time. The long ball is going to end up in the woods much more often, and is likely to cost you strokes in the end.
  1. Play Here, Now – It’s easy to dwell on the bad shot you made on the last hole, or to think about the dreaded par 5 ahead. You’re much better off focusing on the present and concentrating on the fundamentals of this drive, right now.
  1. Control Your Emotions – Rather than dwelling on a bad drive and carrying that frustration to the fairway (or into the woods), try to let go of that frustration. A simple distraction is often effective — try talking with one of your playing partners about a non-golf topic, for example.

 

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The Physical Game

As important as the mental aspect of the game is (some say golf is 90% mental), the physical aspect is critical, as well. Of course, you’ll want to try to stay as fit as possible. Also, you’ll need to teach your body what your brain may already know — how to play golf.

  1. Stretch – As with any sport, stretching is important to prepare your muscles for the workout ahead. Stretching before each drive, or at least before your first drive, will limber up your muscles and add flexibility. It will also help you relax, which is key to a good drive.
  1. Practice, Practice, Practice – The more time you spend teaching your muscles what they’re supposed to be doing on the golf course, the better you’ll be. Get one of those putting greens for your office. Head to the driving range as much as possible. If the weather keeps you from the links, find a golf simulator nearby where you can practice your swing and even tap into the software’s analytics.
  1. Focus on the fundamentals of your swing – You’ve heard this a thousand times, and it was sound advice every time you heard it. As you step up to the tee, take a deep breath and slow down. Forget about the last hole. Forget about the dreaded par 5. Now go over the fundamentals as you set up your drive. Alignment. Grip. Posture. Stance. Ball Position. Take your time. Take your swing. THWACK!

 

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Bio

Matt is an avid golf enthusiast and part of the TruGolf.com team. When he’s not working on his fairway shot, you will find Matt writing about his passion for the process of the game.

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The Sports Archives – The Story of Arthur Ashe

tennisstadium

Tennis Greats: The Story of Arthur Ashe

On the 6th of February 1993, the only African-American man to ever win the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open died of complications as a result of AIDS. He was only 49 at the time. Some knew him for his wonderful tennis game, while others were ardent supports because of all his social activism. In either case, Arthur Ashe was a revered man who gained the respect of everyone who came across him. Even his closest rivals knew what a great athlete and man he was. And one way the tennis community paid tribute to the great man is by naming a tennis court after him. The Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows, New York, is the largest tennis arena in the world, holding over 23,000 people.

Trial and Adversity

Even though Ashe went on to become one of the best tennis players in the world, his life was not easy. He grew up in a segregated neighborhood in Richmond, with only his father to take care of him, as his mother had passed away due to complications from a toxemic pregnancy. Ashe was pushed hard by his father, who wanted his son to excel at both his studies and sports. However, Ashe Sr. never let his son play football, due to his thin build.

Luckily for Ashe, he found his entry into sports through tennis, as he began playing at public playgrounds from the age of seven. He was quickly spotted as a brilliant natural talent by Ron Charity, a student at the Virginia Union University. Ashe took lessons with Charity for several years, and he continued playing the game throughout his school years. Charity also connected Ashe with Robert Johnson and Althea Gibson, who had founded a tennis camp at his home in Lynchburg, Virginia. He invited Ashe there at the age of ten, and taught the young boy everything he could about tennis, sportsmanship and the mental composure he needed to make it as a black athlete during those times.

A First for Everything

Every step in his career was a first for Arthur Ashe, as he broke boundaries, proved people wrong and showcased his talent and temperament at every opportunity. After graduating high school, he went to UCLA on a full tennis scholarship and became the first African-American man to take part in the Davis Cup for the United States. He served in the Army for two years after graduating from UCLA, and then he went on to win the U.S. Open in 1968. Two years later, he was the Australian Open champion, and in 1975 he became Wimbledon champion after defeating Jimmy Connors in the final.

Graceful Giving

Off the court, Ashe dedicated his life to charity and humanitarian work, and his tennis programs were incredibly popular with inner city children in various parts of the United States. He was also outspoken about the cruelties of the apartheid government in South Africa, and he was never afraid of giving his opinion on social issues.

All Good Things Must Come to an End…

Ashe passed away in 1993 from AIDS, a disease he had contracted nearly a decade earlier due to a bad blood transfusion during a heart procedure. For many years, he had not told anyone about his condition, but he eventually made his AIDS diagnosis public after a newspaper discovered details about his health.

… But His Memory Endures

Four years after his death in 1997, the United States Tennis Association announced their decision to name their new center court at Flushing Meadows the Arthur Ashe Stadium, ensuring the man would be remembered and cherished in the sports world forever.

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