Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wrapping it up

Don't have any grand thoughts on 2008--or forecasts for 2009. I've seen plenty of articles about top 10 sports stories at local, national, international levels upon which I feel no need to comment.
The Boston Globe has a list of sport figures (including horses) who died in 2008. I had completely forgotten about former figure skater Christopher Bowman who died very early in 2008 of a drug overdose.
I am interested in the Healthy Weight Network's 2008 Worst Diets of the Year. The organization took nominations for their 20th annual Slim Chance Awards. Anyone could nominate bad diets, diet products, and the biggest gimmicks. (I heard a pretty bad radio commercial the other day for a local personal training outfit that harped on one's laziness and lack of self-control and told "gals" they could get slim and trim and guys that they could get six-pack abs and guns. Hello--I want six-pack abs. Just not from these people.)
Anyway, the results were released yesterday and apparently I have not been paying attention because I hadn't even heard of Skineez jeans, which won the gimmick of the year award. Here's a description:
Skineez jeans are impregnated with a so-called “medication” of retinol and chitosan, a shellfish product once claimed to cut fat absorption in the stomach. Friction between the jeans and skin supposedly triggers release of the substance, which goes to work on fat when absorbed through the skin.
And advertisers lure customers with the promise that part of the proceeds are going to...yep, breast cancer research.
So keep your eyes and ears open so you can nominate the worst of the worst next year.

2009 means the 2010 Olympics are not that far away. Crazy! Seems like we were just (barely) watching the 2008 games in Turin. And as winter athletes gear up for the big event, some are still fighting to get in. All Things Considered had a very good piece on the ongoing fight of female ski jumpers to get into the Vancouver Games. One of the group's advocates does a great job dispelling all the excuses the IOC is throwing at the jumpers. Take a listen here.
And finally, related to athlete activism, Dave Zirin provides some history of intercollegiate athletes' activism against the Mormon church's racism in the 60s and 70s. Athletes' boycott of BYU contributed to the Mormon church's change in their belief that black people were, as said Brigham Young, "uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable, and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind." But given the pressures from schools--and the IRS!--boom doctrine is changed and suddenly black people are allowed to attain the priesthood.
Zirin is suggesting putting similar pressure on the Mormons given their longstanding anti-gay stance and more recent funneling of millions of dollars into CA to fund the Prop 8 campaign. He seems to think female athletes and those involved in women's athletics are more likely to take up this cause because 1) men's sports have been a bastion of homophobia and 2) women's athletics have been more open to homosexuality. Not sure if I believe this. More open I suppose in that there seem to be more lesbians than gay men playing intercollegiate sports but even as there may be greater acceptance among those in women's athletics, it's a pretty closeted atmosphere. In other words, to answer Zirin's question of whether any female athletes will step up and boycott trips to and games against BYU: probably not. I hear, mostly from reading Pat Griffin's blog, about athletes stepping up and doing great advocacy and activist work, but they are not usually DI athletes who are willing to put their athletic careers on the line. There may be more out athletes in intercollegiate sports, but many of them take advantage of a somewhat more liberal climate where they don't have to and don't want to "make a big deal" of it.
I hope I am wrong. Maybe tomorrow I'll be a little more optimistic!

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