Runs In Transit

Category: Sports

Purity and Flow in Sports

It seems like sports are getting more and more complicated every year. Take the NFL playoffs this year. Every game has had at least one controversial referee decision that dominated headlines. During the games, commentators, coaches, and players debate endlessly the intricate details of pass-interference calls or subjective unsportsmanlike penalties that change the momentum of the game. After the game, the media prolongs these discussions for weeks. And of course, fans hold those moments vividly in their memory, placing the blame for losses on bad calls rather than actual play.

To be fair, I’m slightly exaggerating because for all its faults, football remains a sport where penalties affect on average 40-70 yards per game, which equates to a touchdown or two at most. But these calls often happen in crucial moments that obstruct enjoyment of the game. As a huge fan of football, I’m worried about the future of the sport for two main reasons.

First, football is becoming less pure of a sport and getting more and more complicated. The rules for pass-interference alone, linked above, are 700 words long. That is insane. In a sport that emphasizes high intensity and explosive action, there is no place for memorizing intricate rules that resemble texts from a law handbook, let alone ones that depend on a referee’s discretion.

Secondly, football is losing flow, in the sense that the game moves with many obstructions. The average football game only has 11 minutes of actual play during a span of 3 hours and 45 minutes on average. This number has been steadily decreasing because of various rules that push the sport toward a pass-oriented game that minimizes long plays that lead to injuries, such as kick returns. Keep in mind football once resembled rugby.

I am picking on football because it is one of the few sports I watch, but this trend is not exclusive to football and is not a new occurrence either. In basketball, fouls are just as subjective and perhaps dictate more of the game. In baseball, umpires use their eyes to judge whether or not the baseball is in a small box. Modern sports in general are moving away from purity and flow, and I think this is troublesome for their future.

I don’t believe football will be as popular in 50 years. I think society is going to value both safety and the return to sports with more purity AND flow. I can see a different sport taking over in the future, whether it’s a game like soccer or a sport that will be invented in the future. However, I’m not giving up on football. Major changes can happen, and maybe more fans need to feel as I do to change the nature of the game.

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Roger Goodell, read this.

Why You Should Lift

Beware: what you are about to read is a tribute to lifting. It is the result of 3 years of strength training in which public adoration for the activity has been kept to a minimum. Today, I’m going to release some of my pent up appreciation for it. Ready?

Why should you lift?

1. It’s the closest you can get to feeling like your ancestors, you know, the ones who survived by hunting and gathering? In modern society, we don’t push our bodies to the extreme because well, we don’t have to. Technology has afforded us many comforts making strenuous activity unnecessary. Lifting is one of the few activities that brings out your hidden primal instinct. When you lift heavy, your body believes it is going to be crushed under the weight of the bar, and in response, goes into crisis mode. Your nervous system reacts by going into overdrive, sending endorphins and adrenaline throughout your body. The result is a feat of strength and stamina that you rarely experience, and your body will thank you for it.

2. You will feel GREAT. The endorphins I mentioned? Their benefits will last for hours. If you’ve ever had an intense workout, then you know how happy you can feel, regardless of your level of exhaustion. Next time you go to the gym, look at someone immediately after a heavy set. You’ve never seen anyone in such a good mood. Likewise, the benefits of lifting are indirect as well. Your body will respond to your exercise by increasing its metabolism, burning more calories than usual, and replacing old cells with new ones faster. You will feel healthier, happier, and more focused in everything else that you do. At a minimum three hour investment per week, lifting’s a no-brainer.

3. Aesthetics. Yes, I can’t lie. Beyond those feelings of happiness, looking good is a big motivation. But come on, who doesn’t want to look great? The great part about lifting is that you can reach many goals of how you want to look two-fold. Most people want to gain a little muscle and lose a little fat. Cardio might accomplish the second if you eat well, assuming you won’t become a lot more hungry. Lifting, however, can accomplish both. If you lift intensely and eat clean, your body will gain muscle and lose fat, and you won’t feel like crap while you’re doing it. For most people, their fitness goals will include at least some amount of lifting, so cardio-bunnies, give it a shot.

4. You will eat and sleep better. Ok, this might not be true for everyone, but I think it is for most people. When you have an exercise regimen, it will spread into other areas of your life. If you are working out regularly, it doesn’t really make sense to eat junk food and sleep 3 hours a day; you just won’t exercise very efficiently. Once you start caring about exercise, you tend to care about the things that affect exercise as well. You will probably eat healthier food, sleep better, and have better time management skills. Of course, I can’t speak for everyone, but give it a shot and let me know if this is true – it certainly was for me.

5. It helps with mental health. If you’ve ever experienced anxiety, depression, or just a period of low mood, then you know how tough it is to get out of. Fortunately, lifting helps with all three. Often, the combination of exercise and good diet is the best medicine, and it is possible to use these to naturally fight your way out of mental illnesses. Aside from the benefits I’ve listed, which will make you feel better, lifting gives you something to do and a goal to look forward to every day. Once you get into a routine and set concrete goals for yourself, you suddenly have a reason to wake up and progress towards a meaningful goal. This feeling, beyond any physical benefits, can be effective in getting you out of a rut.

So have I convinced you to hit the gym? I sure hope so. If you want to know where to start, buy a gym pass! It’s an excellent way to commit yourself to go and not waste money. If that’s not enough, find a workout buddy to keep yourself accountable (make sure they’re reliable). They say it takes 2 weeks to develop a habit. I say it takes a month, but regardless, push yourself to go regularly early on, and you will notice a habit develop. Afterwards you will be upset at yourself for not going.

Regarding programs, the best routine is the one that you do consistently. There are programs that are more efficient than others, but that difference is small compared to the difference between going at all and sitting on the couch. Common beginner programs are Starting Strength, Stronglifts, and P90x. With the exception of the latter, they are all free. I recommend trying out a few programs and seeing what you enjoy the most. If you don’t look forward to a workout, then it’s really hard to motivate yourself to do it.

Lastly, you’re going to need motivation early on, but after that motivation wears off, and it will, you will need discipline to get you to go to the gym. My advice? Do something that moves you towards your goal every day, no matter how small it is, and if you didn’t do something yesterday, forgive yourself and focus on today. Good luck!

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Ah, nothing like the fresh smell of iron in the morning.