Tag Archives: sports

On Prince Fielder’s Body Issue Cover

9 Jul

prince_fielderAbout a year ago, I went to an event called Drink and Draw. For 10 bucks, you have all you can drink beer and you draw a nude model. I tend to doodle occasionally, so I thought what the hell.

The model was not…Matthew McConaughey. He wasn’t even Matthew’s lesser-known brother, Rooster. He was a medium-height, schlubby-built, pasty man with a face someone, somewhere could love. And he was totally naked, standing on the platform with no shame. He was there to serve a purpose: be the inspiration for the artist. He slid in and out of different poses, giving each artist in the room a different view of him to capture to paper.

He was perfect. The light caught his curves in just the right settings, casting off enough shadow so I could draw the negative space. This man with a less-than-ideal body type was an amazing model.

And so is Prince Fielder.

The Texas Rangers’ first baseman is heavy hitter, to put it lightly. To weigh it down—the man’s enormous. He is known for swinging a bat and hitting home runs. Prince’s size and batting ability have drawn comparisons to another big guy—Babe Ruth. But the Babe never stripped down for the cover of a magazine.

The ESPN Body Issue is one of my favorites. This year, the editors decided to do something different and put the girthy Prince Fielder on one of its covers in his usual poster stance: swing away with an arm outstretched toward the ball he’d just made disappear. It’s a beautiful photo capturing a natural doing what he does naturally, albeit au natural.

Social media, as you’d expect, was not so kind to Prince’s portrait.

The Body Issue, as I understand it, is not to “gawk at exceptional bodies,” but to appreciate the athletic body in all its forms. Sure, Serge Ibaka and Venus Williams  may have the more traditional athletic bodies. But Prince is no slouch. He says it himself in his interview: “You don’t have to look like an Under Armour mannequin to be an athlete.” He doesn’t have the typical muscle definition or 12-pack we’ve been taught to believe all athletes should have. But he does work hard.

You can see it in his stance, in his arms, in his thighs. The man does work out. Not having Larry Fitzgerald’s body doesn’t make him any less of an athlete. There are body types for every sport. Swimmers tend to have short legs, big feet and long legs. Sprinters tend to have tight cores, large thighs and defined calves. Basketball players tend to have long arms, wide-set shoulders and long legs.

And to all this I say, so what? There are exceptions to every rule. While many will strive to have Lebron James’s or Michael Phelp’s bodies—which were built for their respective sports—it doesn’t mean an athlete with a different shape can’t excel.

prince_fielder2I’ve made my feelings about fat shaming perfectly clear: it’s a no-no. No one, no matter where he or she is on the journey, deserves ridicule for the way that person’s body is shaped. Prince’s ESPN cover and the subsequent rants from the Twitter gallery show that men are subject to body shaming just as women are. It’s cruel and it’s counterproductive. We should celebrate a healthy body, especially one that is capable of performing incredible athletic feats, no matter what the size. If he has the courage to go nude on a national magazine cover, regardless his size, he gets my congratulations.

There are a great many physical things we cannot control, but we can control our reactions to them. Prince Fielder is an exceptional athlete who’s not here for your criticism of his body. “I work out to make sure I can do my job to the best of my ability. Other than that, I’m not going up there trying to be a fitness model.”

What did you think of the cover? Would you be able to pose nude, be it for an art class or even a magazine cover?

photos courtesy of ESPN Magazine

World Cup Observations

2 Jul
This man, Tim Howard, was incredible. Stellar goalie.

This man, Tim Howard, was incredible. Stellar goalie.

Like many Americans, I am a new (and disgruntled) soccer fan. The game is full of near misses and frustrating endings. The team that’s been playing crazy defense all game can get tripped up in the last 30 seconds and lose it all. It’s a frustrating thing to watch. But I love sports, so I’m learning to love soccer.

The World Cup has been so exciting this year. Despite yesterday’s loss, it’s been easy to root for the U.S. Men’s team. Having only really paid attention to soccer for the first time ever two and a half weeks ago, I can’t claim to be an expert. But there are a few things I’ve noticed so far.

1. Thighs. Soccer players have some of the most beautiful thighs I’ve ever seen on men. They are ridiculously toned. I’ve been an avid runner for about five years now and am nowhere near that kind of definition. Those beautiful quads and hams have to be well taken care of in order to kick the ball with such precision.

2. Abs. Core strength is key to almost any physical activity. These fellas have great cores. It keeps them agile and allows for some awesome scissor kicks.

3. Faces. It’s not called a beautiful game for nothing. Soccer is the CW network of sports. Marginally attractive people aren’t employed there. The only sport that comes somewhat close in the ratio of fine athletes to their less-attractive brethren is tennis, and that sport doesn’t has nearly as many players. Sure, most soccer players average about 5’7″.* But with faces like these, you have to give them a pass.

4. Speed. I heard somewhere that for the 90 minutes that soccer players are on the field, they’re averaging about seven miles of running. Seven miles! For comparison, I run six miles an hour, and I’m not chasing a ball, trying to control it with my feet, dodging 10 other people and trying to kick it into a goal.

Good job, fellas.

Good job, fellas.

5. Sportsmanship. In high-stakes competitions like the NBA Finals or the Super Bowl, you’re bound to have a few scuffles. I have yet to see any real blowups on the pitch. These guys are running around in Brazilian heat (which is no joke) for 45 minutes straight each half with other people kicking at them, tripping them, pulling at their uniforms…and no one has thrown dem bows. My favorite part is the end when the teams exchange jerseys—partly because of observation No. 2, but also because the players appreciate the other team’s hard work. It’s a really special moment.

6. Dedication. I ran a race on Saturday (five miles in 50:35, thank you very much) and the sun was beating me up. I was frustrated with the organizers for having only two misting stations and myself for not stopping for water more often. I finished, but I was not pleased at the amenities. Soccer players play through each half with no timeouts, no water breaks, no ref challenges. Nothing.** You’re just out there until your half is up. And they do it with no complaint. It’s inspiring.

Even though my team is out, I’m going to continue to watch the Cup through the end. I’ve gained a new appreciation for the sport. Will I try it? Probably not because I’m an old. But I can definitely see its universal appeal.

Now that the U.S. is out, will you continue to watch? What’s been your favorite moment so far? Mine was anytime Tim Howard let out his inner beast.

*I’m 5’2″, so I have no real right to complain about height. But a girl’s got preferences (not necessarily prerequisites).

**Players do find a way to take a breather by doing I what I call the “Paul Pierce.” Old Navy doesn’t have as many flip flops as I’ve seen during these matches. It’s hilarious, but at the same time a bit of a “Come on!” moment.

Photos courtesy of FIFA/Getty Images

Ugh, Cramps!

9 Jun
The struggle is real

Even Lebron James knows: the struggle is real.

As much as I love sports, I am absolutely not an athlete. I am the quintessential couch coach. I can call all kinds of plays from the sidelines of my living room. That’s why I love the NBA Finals. After the Super Bowl, it’s my favorite sporting event of the year.

Like a lot of people, I was halfway paying attention to the first game of the NBA Finals last Thursday. It’s the first game; there will at least be four; it’s two tough teams guaranteed to play a close game; who needs that kind of stress? But at the end, I peeked up from my book to see “King” LeBron James limping then being carried off the court. “What the…?!?!” I said to myself. I hit rewind to find out it was 90 degrees on the court as the air conditioning had gone out in the AT&T Center in San Antonio.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Texas, but for some reason it just remains hot there. Just…just nasty hot. And it’s June. In Texas. At the time LeBron needed to be carried off the court, the temperature was in the low 80s with about 70% humidity. In other words, it was damn hot—and that was outside.

I know I wasn’t the only one laughing at the mighty LeBron being carried off the court. But I also understood why.

When you exert yourself the way top athletes do, especially in this type of competition, your body temperature is going to rise. Couple that with the heat in the arena and the lactic acid that had built up in his body over four quarters and you’ve got man down due to cramps.

There’s no other way to say it: Lactic acid buildup is a bitch. When in beast mode, it will slay the beast. Ask any runner, basketball player, football player, fencer, etc. When you get into a groove, it can be easy to ignore the burn that is attacking your calves, hamstrings, triceps.

People who’ve never experienced that type of pain will be the first ones to call LeBron a punk for not continuing to play in such a tight game. Those people are idiots. I laughed because it’s funny watching LeBron getting carried off the court, not because he couldn’t finish the game. As a woman, I’ve had debilitating menstrual cramps. And while it hurts to walk, you can still move. You can’t do that with a Charlie horse. Charlie horse is a cute name, but is not acute pain.

Here are a few tips to help you get through beast mode without falling on your face:

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. It can never emphasized enough: You have to hydrate. Gatorade, VitaminWater, or just good-old H20 will all do a body good. The water acts to counter the lactic acid building up in your system. This keeps your muscles from tightening and preventing Charlie horses. (See: LeBron)

Stretch. The other day I ran in a 5K (post to come). Afterward, I had to go to work to pick up my stuff and my running mate tsk-tsked me because I hadn’t stretched yet. I admit that stretching is annoying. If you’re like me, you just want to get your workout over with and go about your day. That becomes difficult when you can’t move. So take those extra five minutes before and after to loosen up your limbs. Your body will thank you. And drink some water.

Don’t feel the burn. This isn’t the ’80s when people were still trying to figure out how to exercise. Everyone these days is a self-proclaimed expert (including yours truly). The one thing they agree on is pain is not the point. So if your thigh or arms or back starts tingling in an unfortunate way, stop. Just stop it. Move on to something else. Learn the difference between the feeling of your muscles working and your muscles hurting. And drink some water.

Frequency is key. Though you need to stop when the burn hits, increasing the frequency of your workouts helps. The fitter you are, the less lactic acid that will build up. If you’re a once a month exerciser, do you, boo. But you’ll have to compensate that with extra time spent on stretching, eating bananas and hydrating. Please drink some water.

“Bananas taste the best and are the best for you.” Aside from that, the potassium helps prevent the buildup of lactic acid. But I’ll let my girl Chiquita Banana give you the other benefits of bananas. And drink some water.

 

What do you find that helps you with your workout pains? I hope one thing you do is drink water.