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The Cookie Cutters Continue

Posted by RyanActive Dec 17, 2008

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, all the craze was to build the most boring sports stadiums on earth: The cookie cutters (the P.C. term was "multi-purpose"), complete with rock-hard artificial turf, boring dimensions for baseball and bad seats for football. But, since two franchises could play in one venue, it was half the price and thus twice as appealing.


St. Louis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Anaheim, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Seattle, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, San Francisco, New York, Oakland, San Diego and Miami have all had multi-purpose stadiums built in that era that shared baseball and football. What resulted were stadiums that were so-so for football and awful for baseball.


Since then, the economic boom of sports has destroyed the cookie cutter. Of all those cities mentioned above, only six have those same stadiums still in use. Oakland, Minneapolis and Miami are building new baseball stadiums. San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium and San Francisco's Candlestick Park (or whatever they call it these days) is football-only now. And when the L.A. Rams left town, Anaheim's stadium was renovated to be baseball-only.


Well, almost. Angel Stadium actually played host to the CIF-Southern Section football championships in December, squeezing a full football field over the infield and left field of the Orange County venue. On one play, Long Beach Poly quarterback

Morgan Fennel

launched a tight spiral pass some 50 majestic yards downfield. It was impressive, until you realized that it's merely the distance of a can-of-corn pop fly off the bat of

Garrett Anderson



Some images from that final game, a clash of the unbeatens won by Long Beach Poly over a gritty Tesoro team, are below:




Apologies for the left-field foul pole getting in the way a couple of times. Playing football at a baseball stadium always leads to a few quirks. Thankfully, most cities are starting to correct that misjudgement--at least at the professional level.


It is my great pleasure to finish this blog with a picture of Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Imploding. May all the cookie cutters eventually have the same finish.


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December 2008 Snapshotz Winner

Posted by Trish18 Dec 1, 2008

!|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px; float: left;|src=! The Base Clearer

Description: Zachary Douglass # 26 on Sylvan Hills Razorbacks (8u of Sherwood, Arkansas) in the Cal Ripken South West Regional Tournament, smacks the ball to deep left center with the bases loaded to clear them ending up on 2nd base.  


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The NCAA recently wrapped up the early signing period for college-bound student-athletes.  This signing period allowed basketball, baseball, softball, track and field, tennis and wrestling prospects to sign national letters of intent to formally decide which college to attend.


Early Signing

I played high school ball in Missouri—-one of the few states that maintains softball as a fall sport. I knew my performance each game was under the microscope and that a scholarship offer could depend on it. Conversely, for athletes that play a winter or spring sport, signing early means there’s no pressure to catch the eye of a college scout during their last high school season.


!|style=margin: 0px 0px 5px 5px;|alt=Trish Oberhaus Action7|class=at-xid-6a00d834515ff769e20105361d6279970b |src=!For college coaches it means they can lock their roster early in the academic year so they can dedicate all of their time and energy to the current season. If they haven’t signed enough recruits to complete their roster for next season, they must worry about continuing the recruiting process on top of coaching duties for the current season.


Seven years ago this week, I signed my letter of intent in a small conference room at my high school in the presence of my family, high school coaches and athletic administration. I felt very fortunate to formalize my commitment to attend Loyola University Chicago on a softball scholarship during the fall of my senior year. It had been my goal to negotiate an offer and make it official during the early signing period so that I could enjoy my senior year without the stress of the recruiting process

Not every student-athlete makes a decision regarding their collegiate career during the early signing period. According to the NCAA, about half of the nearly 20,000 signees from the 2007-2008 academic year signed during the early period. However, signing early does seem to be on the rise. Those 9,805 student-athletes marked an eight percent increase in early signees from the year before.


Late Signing

Athletes that don’t sign during the early signing period need not panic—some voluntarily wait until the late period to sign. The next signing period runs from April until August. The extra time allows recruits who aren’t completely satisfied with their choices the opportunity to improve their situation.

Prospects will have time to scrutinize potential schools and get a better idea of how they might fit into a program for the next season. For example, in my four years of playing there were several major changes to the lineup that took place during the spring season as well as in the summer. We had a talented player get kicked off the team, a head coach accept a job at another school and two of our best and most integral players—-a pitcher and a catcher—-transferred. This drastically altered the composition of our team and program and affected our recruiting needs for the next year significantly.

In addition to seeing how one would fit into next season’s depth chart more accurately, waiting allows an athlete to use their senior season to further their marketability in the eyes of college coaches.


The Future

While I am a proponent of settling the deal early, there are important aspects to consider for both committing early and waiting until the spring to sign. In the end, it depends on the individual student-athlete and how comfortable they are with their decision. Good luck to those that have signed already and to those who hope to in the spring.


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College basketball is back.


For the next six weeks or so, big-time college basketball teams will be gingerly dipping their toes into the pool, playing cupcakes and preparing to dive in come conference play. Then there's March Madness, perhaps the greatest stretch in the annual sports calendar, which looks to be another spectacular finish to the season.


Cinderellas and superstars always show up in March, but do yourself a favor and just recycle last year's tournament darling: Davidson guard Stephen Curry.


Yeah, you know him. He scored 128 points in four NCAA Tournament games last season, and almost had a Final Four ring if not for the phenomenal Kansas Jayhawks.


I covered Kansas last season for the local newspaper, so I got to to know Curry a little bit during the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games in Detroit. His pump-fake three-pointer against Wisconsin was one of the most memorable plays I've witnessed. He scored 33 against Big Ten champs Wisconsin and 25 more against Kansas that weekend. Away from the court, he was a super nice kid, intelligent and charming, the kind of guy you always root for based on first impression. We recently published a piece about his off-court work that makes you like him even more.


The March spotlight is still months away from being occupied, but Stephen Curry will be around in the meantime. He's a junior at Davidson, a preseason All-America now playing point guard so he can work on creating his own shot rather than spotting up. NBA riches await him.


The seasonal Stephen Curry bandwagon filled up in March, and with good reason. But the permanent bandwagon needs passengers.


Do yourself a favor: Follow him all season long. You won't be nearly as surprised when he becomes the NCAA Tournament superstar one more time.


Photo: AP

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November 2008 Snapshotz Winner

Posted by Trish18 Nov 3, 2008
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Hundreds of thousands of young girls play soccer every day on patches of grass across the United States. A generation ago, they dreamed of being just like

Mia Hamm

--play at North Carolina and become a star on the national team.


Now they can dream even bigger--of being a professional soccer player.


The WPS will start in April of 2009, and teams are currently gobbling up the best players to start constructing a winner.


First was the allocation of the U.S. national team players, which took place in September. Then there was the international draft a short time later. The four-round general draft took place on Oct. 6 and was open to international and domestic players. The drafting will conclude in January with a post-Combine draft that expects to round out the rosters.


The WPS is calculating momentum that will keep it around for the long haul. It just recently signed a multi-year deal with Fox Soccer Channel for television rights. Seven markets are slated to have teams for 2009 (Bay Area, New York/New Jersey, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.), and two more (Atlanta and Philadelphia) will join in 2010. More expansion is expected, perhaps in Dallas.


And, even more importantly, they have a model to learn from. The WUSA was forced to suspend operations in 2003, and committees were immediately formed to determine the best way to re-launch women's professional soccer in the U.S.


This is their answer. The staying power of WPS remains to be seen, but its efforts will trickle down immediately. After all, it is another chance to inspire thousands of athletic girls wanting to dream just like the boys do.


2,920 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: soccer, sports-&-gender, women, professional_soccer, wps, ryan_wood

October 2008 Snapshotz Winner

Posted by Trish18 Oct 2, 2008
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!|style=margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px; float: left;|src=! Big Hit

An irresistible force meets an immovable object as determined defenseman for the Dunellen NJ Penguins PeeWee B team checks a member of the NY Saints. The Penguins go on to defeat the Saints 6-2.


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San Diego Chargers linebacker

Shawne Merriman

visited four different doctors to get opinions on his damaged left knee over the summer.

Specifically, Merriman wanted to know if he could play football with a torn PCL and a torn LCL.

Four doctors said he needed surgery. Merriman ignored them and declared himself available for the start of the season anyway.

"My knee still looks pretty good," he said at the time. "The decision was left up to me to play. If you give a football player a decision to play, you know, I'm going to play."

Elite athletes become elite through relentless hard work and a ton of passion for the sport they're playing. But when should someone step in and say no to an athlete who doesn't have it in them to say no themselves?

Merriman, who played one game before hanging it up and electing surgery, isn't the first example of an athlete playing through a potentially catastrophic injury. Not even close. Remember:

-Terrell Owens

, who played in Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005 despite a broken leg. Doctors wouldn't clear him to play but he did anyway, catching nine passes for 122 yards in a loss.

-Oregon quarterback

Dennis Dixon

was the Heisman Trophy favorite in 2007 before hurting his knee against Arizona State halfway through the season. He returned two weeks later against Arizona but left again when his knee buckled. It was then made public that he tried to play with a torn ACL.

-St. Louis Cardinals superstar

Albert Pujols

has played the 2008 season with a "high-grade tear" in his elbow, which is liable to blow any day. It's his call to delay surgery as long as he can. The way he can hit a baseball (even with the bad wing), nobody's going to get in his way.


-Even in the Beijing Olympics , China track star

Liu Xiang

tried to compete in front of his home country with a serious Achilles injury. He had barely broken out of the blocks on a false start when he finally gave up, knowing it wasn't going to work.

It seems coaches don't intervene in the professional ranks, which is up for debate. College coaches have much greater authority over their players (football coaches, in particular, take advantage of that). But in the case of Dixon, Oregon's coach allowed him to play until there was another sign of trouble.

Here's the debate: Where does it stop being the player's call and starts being someone else's? Should Chargers coach

Norv Turner

have stepped in and told Merriman no? Would the NFL Players' Association have raised a fuss if Turner didn't play Merriman? We know San Diego fans would.


If Merriman wanted to play through this injury while at the University of Maryland, does that change things? What about during his high school days in the Washington, D.C. area?


It's a gray area worth visiting. Merriman wasn't the first player to ignore a doctor's orders. You can bet he won't be the last.

2,751 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: basketball, football, baseball, injuries

Gene Upshaw passed away yesterday at the age of 63.  Coincidently, that was the number on his uniform during an incredible NFL career that included two Super Bowl wins and seven Pro Bowl appearances. 


However, it will be for his leadership of NFL Players and the Union that he will be most remembered.  For over 20 years, he served as head of the Union and was instrumental in positioning the NFLPA where it is today.  From Free Agency for players to increased salaries and benefits, he battled a Machine, the NFL, that for years, had benefited from athletes on the field without giving much back to them.


Playing nine years in the NFL and having served as union representative for most of those years, I was able to experience first hand the results he had produced.  People always had an issue here or there with what he was doing, but overall, no one could argue with his leadership.  In any type of leadership position, it is difficult to please everyone all of the time.  Being a retired player, there are benefits that I feel could have been addressed more for us.  However, the retirement benefits that I now have are largely due to his ability to surround himself with strong leadership and get results.  For that I am thankful.


His ability to relate to players and stand his ground when dealing with the NFL owners was an attribute to his strength, courage, integrity and most of all his tenacity.  The next Executive Director will have some big shoes to fill, but I am confident that Gene set enough examples to follow.


That things that I love about sports/athletics are discipline, teamwork and leadership qualities.  These are necessary to be successful on the field, court, in the water, on the bike, etc.


There are so many benefits to an Active life style whether competing against others or yourself, whether you are hoisting the championship trophy or handling defeat with dignity.


Thank you, Gene, for being an example to all athletes by realizing that our potential doesn't end when the last whistle blows and we walk off the field for the last time.  Whether that is in high school, college, the Olympics or professional, we have the foundation to be successful in life.


Rest in Peace.

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Michael Husted played professional football for nine years  as a placekicker in the NFL. He is also the co-creator of an innovative online video recruiting tool that connects student

athletes with coaches through the use of interactive video profiles.


Choosing the right college to attend is something that will take some

time. You will want to find a school that fits you both academically

and athletically.


The first step is to make a list of 12-15 schools

that you, initially, would like to attend.


I would categorize them in this way:


  • Dream schools

  • Realistic schools

  • Fall back schools


Of course, there could be some overlap between the Dream and Realistic

schools. Having simple categories will help to organize your choices as

you start this process.


Your Dream schools could be a big time college athletic program, like

UCLA, Notre Dame, Texas or Florida. Maybe you have grown up watching

that program, members of your family have attended that school or you

simply like their mascot and colors. There are many colleges that offer

both big time athletics as well as incredible academics, Virginia, Cal

Berkley, Boston College, etc. Therefore, attending one of these

programs would appear to be ideal.


However, you need to be "realistic" with your athletic abilities and

decide if you would get significant playing time by attending one of

these programs. If so, great. If not, then you will need to decide if

just being on the roster is good enough for you. Otherwise, finding a

program, athletically, that will allow you to get a lot of playing time

might be at a "Realistic" School.


Being a "Big fish in a small pond," is something that will provide for

a great college experience. There are dozens of incredible academic

institutions that play at smaller divisions, Amherst, William and Mary

and all of the Ivy league schools.


You have heard or you will hear that "College is one of the best times

of your life." The great thing is that you can do many things to ensure

that you have an incredible experience.


Finally, have your "Fall Back" Schools. These are schools that you

would still enjoy attending, but they are not necessarily the first ones

that pop up in your head. They still combine the academics and

athletics and offer the expected experience.


Do your initial research on these schools, their location (Do you want to stay close to home or leave the state?), student

size, academic offering, players at your postition (How many? When are

they graduating?),etc. Your list and rankings may move around after

your research. Some schools may drop out and some new ones may be added.


Two sites where you can begin your research are:


You have to work just as hard off the field, to find the right school, as you do on

the field.*  *


One of the most important questions that you should ask

yourself when trying to select the right college is "If something were

to happen that prevented me from playing my sport in college, would

I still want to be at that school?"


Leveraging your sport to go to college is a great way to be a starter, get an education and have an incredible experience that will set the foundation for the rest of your life.


Once you have narrowed down your school options, the next step is letting them know that you are out there.  The most efficient way is to create an online video profile with


Good luck!

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From NBC Sports:

  “Little League Baseball will use instant replay at this  year’s World Series to review questionable home runs and other close plays at  the outfield fence, beating the major leagues in instituting a system to review  some disputed calls.”


So for someone who has been to two* World Series tournaments in Williamsport* I’m not sure  this is a great development. Doesn't instant replay detract from the youth sport  element of the games? Isn't one of the tenants of  Little League  dealing with bad calls/adversity in a healthy way--not make sure we get the call "right." Or has the *Little League World Series* already become a worldwide  media event that has more in common with the *Super Bowl *than the sandlot game down the street?


Join the discussion. Would love to hear what you other youth baseball folks think?


  The rest of the NBC story.




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So you want to play sports  in college? Whether you’re an All-American, All-State, All-District or just a starter  because you were left off those lists by mistake, in order to play at the next level there are mandatory procedures.

The NCAA considers a  Prospective Student-Athlete as “someone who  is looking to participate in intercollegiate athletics at an NCAA Division I or  Division II institution in the future.” To play in college  ALL Prospective Student-Athletes must sign up with the NCAA Eligibility Center.

As of August 1, 2008, NCAA Division I will require 16 core courses. Division II requires 14 core courses, but  will increase to 16 core courses beginning August 1, 2013. View the NCAA  Freshman Eligibility Standards Quick Reference Sheet for more information  on these requirements.

This important step allows for college coaches to verify that you are eligible and provides them academic  information on the student-athlete. You  are encouraged to submit transcripts and test scores (SAT/ACT) for their review. You will be assigned a pin number that they can use to confirm this information.

Just like there are rules to  follow in games, the NCAA is all about rules and guidelines to better serve  student-athletes and their parents.

Once you have registered, it is time to let them know that you are out there. The internet is a great way to create  exposure. Creating an online interactive video profile is a solid way to make that all important introduction to college coaches.

If you haven’t registered  with the eligibility center, do so ASAP.

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July 2008 Snapshotz Winner

Posted by Trish18 Jul 2, 2008
1,418 Views 1 Comments Permalink Tags: snapshotz, soccer

Through my experience playing in the NFL and being a union

representative for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I saw first-hand what

happens to athletes when their playing days come to an end and they

haven't prepared for their second career. A very small percentage of

athletes make it to the pros. Of those who do, a smaller percentage

play long enough to retire comfortably for the rest of their lives.


In the NFL alone, the average career is only 3.5 years. You don't qualify

to become an unrestricted free agent (where the big contracts are

usually signed) until you have played four years.


There are a lot of sad stories about pro athletes who didn't prepare themselves

enough for life after their sports career is over. Don't let that

happen to you. It is a long shot to play professional sports. However,

going to college, playing the sport you love and getting a great

education will provide you with an incredible experience that will carry

you through the rest of your life.


No matter what sport you play, your coach develops plays that you use to help the team win. Most

teams have a playbook. Being a student-athlete and trying to have a

game plan for college requires its own "playbook." The NCAA has done a

great job trying to take the burden off of athletes and parents by

creating a game plan to follow. The process to get into college can be

overwhelming. However, using the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete is a very smart thing to do.


Have you gone to site? It is a really cool interactive site.

It is essentially a playbook with information about being an NCAA



The site itself was designed to look like a playbook. It is a three-ring binder that "is dedicated to helping you

understand the balance between academics and sports required of every student-athlete for a successful life in school, and out. Here you can learn about the NCAA, download the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete, and discover how you can go pro in something other than sports."


When you go to the site, the first words that you read are: There are over

380,000 student-athletes, and just about every one of them will go pro

in something other than sports.


I really enjoy the emphasis that the NCAA has put on "going pro" in something other than sports. The

inside folder pocket has an envelope with pictures that open to the

television commercials they have played.


I certainly was not aware of the Guide for the College-Bound Student-Athlete

when I was in high school and there wasn't an interactive website for

me to review. The site and its design effectively simplify the



This playbook discusses:

  • Amateurism-Eligibility Requirements

  • Academic-Eligibility Requirements

  • Core Course, GPA, Tests, Special Conditions

  • NCAA Eligibility Center

  • Questions to Ask as You Consider Colleges

  • Information for Parents and Guardians

  • Details for High School Counselors and Athletic Administrators

  • Recruiting Regulations


The media gives a lot of emphasis to professional athletes and thus every

kid wants to grow up to be one. I can tell you personally that although

it is a great experience, it sometimes is not all that it is cracked up

to be.


So check out the site, read it, download the playbook

and follow it. I am confident that if you follow the plays in this

playbook you will be successful.

2,034 Views 5 Comments Permalink Tags: team, sports, football, ncaa, high, school, recruiting, athlete, college, education, student, kicking
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