Sunday, June 28, 2015

Brad's Sports Comments, Edition #4, March 2014

Introducing Speed Golf: Stephen Schlepmo introduces you to the amazing sport of Speed Golf! As you might know, Speed Golf has become my athletic obsession in recent months, as I prepare to compete in tournaments that the Speed Golf International organization offers. In Speed Golf, you add your strokes and your minutes playing together to obtain a Speed Golf score. You have to play quickly and shoot well - like Biathlon in the winter Olymics! I participated in tournaments back in the 1990s in Southern California as organizer Bob Babbitt tried to make "Extreme Golf" a hot new made-for-TV sport. These events eventually fizzled out but now the sport has come back strong with television coverage, sponsors, prize money events, and refined rules (carry own clubs - maximum of 7, no caddies). Last year at the world championships at Bandon Dunes, OR, an Irishman named Rob Hogan won $15,000 for shooting 77 in 39 min and 79 in 41 minutes over two days. 

***You Know You're Old When....***
...fashion trends have come full circle on you. My original cool-but-ridiculously-large Oakley "factory pilot" sunglasses from 1987 have just been released by Oakley as a "Special Edition Heritage Eyeshade" for only $200 on their website! (Photos attached). 

I originally wrote the Oakley company as an unknown rookie professional in 1986, kindly requesting a free pair to wear in competition. I received a form letter back recommending I visit a retail store. I consequently scratched the logo off my purchased pair of Oakley's and replaced it with mini decal letters to spell "Bradley". When I won the first pro event in late 1986, the Oakley rep called to offer a sponsorship, provided I get rid of my Bradley shades. I promptly received a shipment in the mail with 2-dozen pair of assorted Oakley sunglasses, along with clothing and duffel bags, in time to get Oakley some coverage in the King of the Desert magazine article (attached photo).




****Sports Performances of a Lifetime***
The following is a quick list of stuff that won't be equaled in our lifetimes, at least...

Tiger Woods winning 2000 US Open by 15 shots, breaking the all-time victory margin record set in the 1880s when some dude Old Tom Morris won by a dozen shots beating like 5 other players. The US Open is literally an open contest; some 9,000 elite golfers from around the world participate in qualifying each year. Tiger's level of domination early in this century triggered a massive escalation in talent and competitiveness in golf to where to day we see an amazing number of elite competitors. 16 consecutive different winners of the last 16 majors and so forth. Tiger was ahead of the improvement and competitiveness curve by a decade and, while he has many detractors and naysayers, it's remarkable that he is still #1 ranked player in the world amidst the escalation in talent and money and competitiveness that he created starting in 1997 when he burst onto the scene. 

Hagler vs Hearns 1985: One of the most savage battles in the history of mankind. If you are not a boxing fan or don't have much free time, I still urge you to watch the 12 minute entirely of this bout (advance the video to 22:30 for the start of the fight). If you don't believe me, watch the first minute and you will be captivated. Fortunately, these were two of the most supremely conditioned and skilled athletes on the planet and they both lived to fight another day. That doesn't make boxing an acceptable sport, but since the fight already happened it's worth appreciating for the pure athleticism.

Tyson vs Spinks 1988: Behold Michael Spinks, the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world, the Olympic gold medalist, 31-0 with 21 knockouts, never challenged or knocked down in his career, a 6'1", 212lb physical marvel sitting atop of the boxing world for 11 years, and looking to unify the title against young challenger Mike Tyson in Atlantic City. 34 seconds into the fight, Tyson crushed Spinks with a body shot and he crumpled to the ground. Spinks never got up from the canvas, and never fought again. In this video, it's worth watching the intros with Tyson pacing around the ring like a mountain lion stalking prey.

Usain Bolt 2008 Olympic 100 metersUsain set the world record of 9.69 while coasting the last 15 meters. The Olympic 100 meters is far and away the most competitive athletic event in the world - and in the history of humanity, dating back to the ancient Greek Olympics and the sprint race of around 180 meters that they contested that was called the stadion (yes, that's how we got the name stadium today). Every kid on the globe at some point contests a footrace, there are no barriers to enter the sprinting game (unlike golf for example) and make it all the way to the Olympic games. Interestingly, over 99% of the top 100 meter performers of all time trace their ancestry to West Africa, a prime example of the importance of genetics at the very highest level of competition and the premise of Jon Entine's excellent book, Taboo.

Allen Iverson scoring 48 points in 52 minutes in game 1 of the 2001 NBA finals in Los Angeles against the 2-time defending world champion LA Lakers, heading for a 3-peat and on an 18 game win streak. Already discussed length in Sports Notes Edition 1, but don't hold your breath for another 5'11" player to lead a mediocre team to the finals and down one of the NBAs greatest dynasties.

***Dr. Doug McGuff's Top 12 Ways to Avoid The Black Swan***

This is commentary from an emergency room physician that had a strong impact on me. I think you might appreciate some of the suggestions. He calls this the top 12 ways to avoid a Black Swan, drawing from his years of experience treating victims in the emergency room...(Note: I wrote the italic titles and occasional bracketed comments).

1.  Humm along the road: Drive the biggest vehicle you can afford to drive. Your greatest risk of death comes from a motor vehicle accident, and a larger car always fares better (Force=Mass x Acceleration). Also, if your midlife crisis plans include a motorcycle or sports car, realize that you might resolve your midlife crisis by avoiding old age all together. Oh, and never text while driving.  Texting and driving increases your risk of a traffic fatality by a factor of 23.
2.  Quad-riplegic: Never get on a 4-wheeler ATV. These are the most dangerous vehicle that I know of. ATVs have produced more quadriplegics than anything else I have seen.
3.  Stationary Bikes Rule! Do not road cycle or jog on public roads/roadsides. To do so is to put your life in the hands of a text-messaging 17 year-old. {Brad's Note: My main man in San Fran Bill Ross counters this with data showing that routine cycling is statistically pretty safe. Indeed, I think most cycling accidents skew toward pilot error/pilot brazenness instead of inherent risk. If you insist on road riding, ride with a rear-view mirror mounted to your helmet, and ride single file - save the chit-chat for the coffee shop after}. 
4.  Stay Grounded: Do not fly a plane or helicopter unless you are a full-time professional pilot. If you are a doctor, lawyer, actor, athlete, stockbroker or other well-to-do professional do not get a pilot’s license. Expertise in one area of life does not transfer to piloting, often with fatal results.
5.  Run from trouble: If you are walking down a sidewalk and are approaching a group of loud and apparently intoxicated males, cross to the other side of the street immediately. If anyone tries to start a fight with you, the first step should be “choke them with heel dust.”
6.  Microwave anyone?: If your gas grill won’t start….walk away. Never throw gas (or other accelerant) on a fire.
7.   Plunge feet first into adventure: Never dive into a pool or body of water (except in a pool diving area marked 9 feet or deeper after you have checked in out feet-first).
8.  Do it yourself...not: Never get on a ladder to clean your gutters, or on your roof to hang Christmas lights. Do not cut down trees with a chainsaw. I have seen too many middle age males (with a bug up their ass to get something done) die from these activities. In general, any house or lawn work that you can hire for an amount equal to or less than your own hourly wage is money well spent.
9.  Stay put: If you are retirement age and plan on moving to a new home…think twice. The stress pushes many seniors over the edge. If you do, buy an existing house. I have lost count of the number of retirees that have died of heart attacks while going through the stress of custom-building their retirement dream home.
10.   Kick and scratch: If anyone tries to force you into your car or car trunk at gun point, don’t cooperate. Fight and scream all you can even if you risk getting shot in the parking lot. If you get in the car, you will almost certainly die (but after considerable torture and suffering).
11.   No bad air: If you are in any personal or professional relationship that exhausts you or otherwise causes your recurrent distress, then end the relationship immediately.
12.   Lotto - notto: Don’t play the lottery…you might win. Any unearned wealth, or wealth that is disproportionate to the objective value you provide will destroy you. Lottery winners and Sports/Movie stars share a common bond of disproportionate rates of depression, addiction, and suicide.

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