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Archive for December, 2008

It has been quite a year for the former University of Tennessee athlete – historic. While that description has become over used in the hyperbole of the sports media, it is fitting.Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker won a national championship, along the way helping lead the U.S. women’s basketball team to the gold medal in Beijing.

She is also only the second woman to dunk in an official match, and the first to repeat it, throwing down again in the next game.

It’s not surprising that she recently collected the AP female athlete of the year award to go along with earning WNBA Rookie of the Year and the MVP honors in the same year, making her the first player to win the three awards in the same year.

“Wow, that’s amazing,” the 22-year-old Parker said. “It’s been a great year from so many standpoints. I haven’t really had a chance to sit back and let it all sink in.”

Greatest of all time? We still have to wait. But Parker is on her way. The more appropriate question is whether she is the one to champion women’s sports in the modern era?

As the top draft choice, Parker’s Candace Parker base basketball salary of $44,064 – was less than a Nashville Police Officer with a college degree.

Compare that with what the first player selected in this year’s NBA draft will make: more than $4 million in the first year. And the difference in endorsement income is even wider.

The reasons for the gap are obvious in that support for male sports is more larger.

The remaining question is whether Candace is able to attract the level of attention and corporate sponsorships to add some zeroes to the paychecks of the world’s top female athletes.

The sky is the limit for Parker. In her first season, the Sparks did not make it to the finals but she is left to dream of titles, awards, and possibly a career that could go down as the best of all time.

Jay Hicks is a freelance writer, found primarily at, a popular online track & field magazine.

Categories : Basketball
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Mixing It Up With The Boys

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girl-hockey My son plays ice hockey on a local house league and one of the things I like best about it, is that there are quite a few girls who play in the league.

The girls are great! They show off their girlieness by lacing their skates with pink laces, sporting powder pink hockey gloves and letting their long ponytails flow out of their helmets. But as soon as the whistle blows and the puck is dropped its GAME ON!

Girls from 7-18 play in the various house league levels and from day one they are taught its okay to mix it up with the boys. My son has been checked into the boards by a girl and has returned the favor, too. With all the padding and the proper technique, its just not a big deal to the girls or the boys.

When you watch their team play, you can see that the girls on the team play just as important of a role as the boys do. The kids don’t really seem to make a distinction between the two genders – they are just kids playing a game as far as they are concerned. I credit the coaches for much of the success in creating a solid co-ed team. They have never treated the girls like anything other than hockey players.

I am grateful to the girls who strap on their pink laced skates each week and mix it up with the boys. They are teaching the boys and themselves some very important life lessons each week.

Categories : Ice Hockey
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When 2nd Place is the Best Place to Be

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I may be in the minority here, but I am a strong believer in 2nd place. I think 2nd place (as are 3rd, 4th and 5th) is a great place to be in – especially early on in the competition season.

Why? From the standpoint of coaching young athletes, 2nd place gives athletes the affirmation that yes, they are working hard and doing well, but leaves the door open for more improvement. Over the years I have noticed that if a child is consistently struggling in her events and feels she has no chance to place in the top 5 or so, she tends to give up or improve at a relatively slower pace.

However, athletes who believe they have a shot at the top spots, tend to be more eager to perfect the details, train a little harder and push themselves a bit when they have a a taste of success, but haven’t necessarily achieved their ultimate goal.

After all, 1st place is a tough spot to be in – the only place to move is down and keeping kids motivated to stay ahead of their compeition is hard.

What do you think? Is 2nd place the best place to be? Especially early in the competition season?

Categories : Coaching
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