Tag Archives: Sports

The Special Olympics: Joy in Celebrating Inclusion, Dignity and Respect for All

SO1At breakfast this morning, my family was reflecting on our summer.  “The highlight of summer so far,” my elder daughter, Tara (13 years old), said, “was attending the World Games for the Special Olympics.”

My family is incredibly blessed, and our summer has included concerts, Broadway shows, world travel, lots of good food, relaxation, Disneyland and many other highlights. As my younger daughter, Leela (11 years old), nodded enthusiastically, I was moved by what an extraordinary statement they were making.

We attended the Opening Ceremony of the World Games for Special Olympics last weekend. The Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities that provides year-round training and competition for 4.4 Million athletes in 170 countries.

A few weeks ago while in Washington D.C. with my father, I attended a private dinner with Tim Shriver, the chairman of the Special Olympics. Tim was passionate and articulate about the event, as well as dispelling some of the assumptions even we had about people with intellectual disabilities. Tim is truly a humble champion for people with intellectual disabilities, and the Shriver family must be applauded for taking an event that his mother, Eunice Shriver, started over 40 years ago and making it into a global social movement that it is today. As written about in this NY Times piece, Special Olympics and The Burden of Happiness, there is a long way still to go. The World Games truly felt like a Utopian world, and the stark reality for many of these people is very different and one is reminded of the need to champion human rights for all. Continue reading

Living With Intent: My Brother, Gotham Chopra. And My (Somewhat) Biased Review of Kobe Bryant’s Muse

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I have a memory of a family lunch at a famous seafood restaurant in Boston. I was 14 years old and my brother, Gotham, was 11. After ordering our food, members of the Boston Celtics basketball team marched through the entrance, scattering themselves among tables near us. Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge, Robert Parish – they were all there. Gotham stopped breathing. Not because he had choked on a piece of swordfish – but because he could not contain his excitement. His eyes went wide with disbelief. He literally could not speak.

My father was appalled. “These are just kids who can throw a ball in a hoop,” he chastised Gotham. “Doctors, scientists, humanitarians, these are the heroes you should be worshipping!” Gotham ignored my dad. He was in a sacred place, and nothing could take away his joy. The fact was my brother’s Religion was Sports, and these were his gods. Continue reading

Olympic Quotes to Inspire You to Go for the Gold

What’s your favorite Olympic sport? Are you a figure skating or louge person? Maybe you prefer summer for the gymnastics or swimming? Whatever your sport may be the Olympics will be inescapable soon. Even if you aren’t a sports fan there is something inspiring about watching these athletes who dedicate their lives in pursuit of this single dream – of holding a gold medallion above their heads for all the world to see. They spend countless hours in gyms, on ice rinks, on snowboards or skis, giving their entire lives to get on to that podium. That is some serious dedication. What if we were all like that with our goals? Maybe we can be, and you can use these Olympic themed quotes to get you there.

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What is your favorite motivational quote? Share it in the comments below! 

Master Purity Energy and Balance to Achieve Total Wellness

balanceTo lose weight you need two major components – weight loss and nutrition, but how do you create a program that lasts? In Deepak Chopra’s latest book “What Are You Hungry For?” he explains that to really make that life change you have to use weight loss and nutrition with the three tenants of purity, energy and balance.

How does that work? In part one of the book Deepak lays out the three tenants and the tips you need to bring them into your life to maintain your new healthy lifestyle.

Purity

“Eliminating toxins awakens in the body’s capacity for renewal and returning to a natural balance. Toxins need to be eliminated from the body, mind, and soul,” Deepak says. While there are several toxins that can invade your life, let’s start with food. Here are a few tips to purify your diet.

  • Throw out old, stale food.
  • Minimized processed foods
  • Keep fruits and vegetables as fresh as possible when storing
  • Prefer whole grains and natural sweeteners
  • Eliminate hydrogenated and trans fats
  • Buy organic produce (if affordable)
  • Favor deeply green vegetables like spinach and kale, and the rest of the of cabbage family

Juice cleanses have become an all-too popular trend when trying to purify your body of toxins. While cleanses can help you purify your system, you have to be careful not to overdo it or deplete your body of necessary nutrients.

“Short-term cleanses and fasts do not help us have a healthy, detoxified life. Those extreme shifts from very unhealthy to very healthy (for a very short time) only teach us to be extreme. I believe in a longer-term cleanse of at least 6-8 weeks, which is enough time to truly cleanse and discover what your body feels like in a pure state,” says Sports Club/LA nutritionist Ginger Mallory.  “After really learning about your body during this time, you can gradually reintroduce some items back into your diet, observe how those items make you feel, and then make an informed decision about whether you’d like to keep these items in your diet or in what proportions.”

You should know that purifying the body takes time, and that it can’t all be done at once. If you approach your life change as a beginning process then it is much more likely to become a permanent state of mind.

As fellow nutritionist Karen Sherwood says, “Taking baby steps and ‘leaning’ into a new way of being is key. This enables us to pave a new foundation and build from there. It must begin with nutrition, and include an active life-style with focus on self-care, rest, and stress management. When all of these wheels are working in harmony, the body and its relationship to food and the outside world begins to make sustainable change.”

Energy

Once you have purified your body and life of toxins then you can begin to change why you eat food. Food is the beginning nourishing source for our bodies and if we eat correctly then it energizes the body without making us feel stuffed or lethargic. Deepak prescribes the following tips for crafting a diet that boosts your overall energy.

  • Eat less when you are inactive
  • Eat only until you are nicely satisfied and no more
  • Choose lighter and more easily digested food
  • Avoid animal based fats and refined sugar
  • Make your food colorful and pleasing to the eye
  • Satisfy as many of the senses as possible including taste, smell and texture.

Eating specifics type of food can also increase your energy. “I like a combination of a complex carbohydrate, a lean protein, and a bit of healthy fat at every meal. This assures an even balance of blood sugar, when eating every 3-4 hours or so,” advises Karen Sherwood, “In addition to keeping this balance of macronutrients, consuming what I like to call, “power foods” helps support every system of the body. Specific foods I love for energy include chia seeds, maca powder, whey protein, spirulina, and coconut products. I have all of my active clients and athletes consume these super foods on a daily basis in the form of a smoothie.”

Balance

It is great to research and take on all the new tips, but the most important key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is balance. When you take all of your new habits and form them into a routine that fits your life and schedule you can make your body in the way that works best for your needs. To create balance Deepak offers the following pointers.

  • Eat when you are in a satisfied state
  • Consume a variety of fresh foods
  • Make sure you are taking care of the basics like drinking enough water and getting enough sleep
  • Eat at regular hours with balanced intervals in-between
  • Vary your calorie intake to balance your activity level

Balance is the key factor why fad diets have such varying results for different people – it is the same exact instructions for everyone, no matter what their current lifestyle or schedule is. By using these tips you can use all the wellness tips and research you do to best apply them to your life, and when you have a balanced plan that is custom built for what you want your body to do you are more likely to succeed, not just in losing weight but in achieving total wellness.

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This blog is part of our “What Are You Hungry For?” series with Sports Club LA and to celebrate the release of Deepak Chopra’s latest book. Find out how you can win a copy of your own here and tell us what you are hungry for in the comments below. If you don’t want to wait for the give away you can purchase a copy of Deepak’s book today. 

Russian Anti-Gay Laws Cause Olympic Controversy

Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 11.51.56 AMControversy has erupted in the past week over statements made by Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko regarding the LGBT community and the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics. Recent anti-gay laws set in place within Russia this June have made life as a member or ally of the LGBT community very difficult.

Individuals are not allowed to discuss what Mutko calls “non-traditional sexual orientations” in front of children. They are also prohibited from creating and presenting “propaganda” in public (ex. a rainbow flag) on behalf of the community. The exact details of what activities violate this law appear to be kind of wishy-washy, which means it’s difficult to know what kinds of activities are actually illegal. Regardless, offenders may be placed in jail, charged fines, or even deported.

A few days ago, disagreements began to run rampant as Mutko issued a statement that the laws will continue to be upheld throughout the Winter 2014 Olympics, which contradicted the previous statements made by the International Olympic Committee. With this law in place, competing athletes and spectators would be put at risk. Mutko stated, in an interview with R-Sport:

No one is forbidding an athlete with non-traditional sexual orientation from coming to Sochi, but if he goes onto the street and starts propagandizing it, then of course he will be held accountable.

Somewhat soon after, in what seems like a response to the uproar that followed these statements, Russian officials reversed them, saying that they plan to do the “politically correct” thing.

What do you think about the situation?

Is Sports Fandom the New Religion?

What is the most intense, universal, and enduring religion of all? Sports, of course!

Okay, maybe we can’t make such a claim. But if religions are known for their communal experiences, rigorous doctrine, and masses of devout followers, then sports should certainly be somewhere at the top of the list. In this week’s episode of “Holy Facts” on The Chopra Well, Gotham Chopra explores the spiritual side to sports.

As a die-hard Red Sox fan, himself, it isn’t hard for Gotham to understand the fanatical nature of sports team loyalty. Go to any major sporting event anywhere in the world and you’re bound to see all manner of devotion and zeal. Some people paint there faces and chests the beloved team’s colors; others perform rituals to ensure good luck and even unlikely wins; and almost everyone yells and sings and cheers their hearts out, raising their voices together in communal worship.

Have you ever been to a sporting event? Did it feel like a religious gathering? Is your sports team your “religion”? Let us know in the comments section below!

Subscribe to The Chopra Well and don’t miss next week’s episode of “Holy Facts”!

How Hiking Could Change The World

Hidden FallsThe time-honored virtues of hiking have never been more apparent than during these challenging economic and social times.  This activity delivers a targeted stimulus to each department of life:

Commerce.  Hiking is affordable in that it can be practiced close to home, saving thousands of dollars on vacation airfare and motels.   On the trail itself, the only hiking costs are footgear — which, if fashionable, can double as street gear –comfortable clothing, and a daypack or backpack, or no pack at all if the trail is a short one.

Education. 
High-quality information on both human and natural history follows the hiker throughout our park system.  Accurate and well-researched brochures wait in wooden boxes at the head of many trails, while interpretive signs along popular paths explain significant natural features or historic events that took place where the hiker happens to be standing.  The information attains documentary level when combined with personal photographs and often proves nearly impossible to find through other sources.

Health and Human Resources.  A steady uphill hike represents first-tier aerobic exercise.  Carried out in pleasant surroundings, it bears none of the tedium of health club workouts.  The exercise enthusiasm that hiking generates is essential to restoration of our personal health.  The most American model of physical culture, Charles Atlas — and the Governor of California could testify to this — repeatedly preached the connection between mental enthusiasm and successful exercise routines.

Wellbeing.  Hiking not only enervates one’s self, but binds families and couples.  It can be adjusted in terms of difficulty so that women and children are as comfortable with it as men.  Men admire the ruggedness of the landscape, while women appreciate the floral displays and children relish each new sight, smell and sound.

State. 
Along our hiking trails, the New World meets the Old World.  New arrivals to America , accustomed to greater physical exertion, find along our trails a way to carry on the walking they practiced in the Old World.  In the high proportion of Asian and South American people along our paths, we are seeing the future of America and witnessing an ancient and enlightened manner of recreating.

Internal Affairs.  Hiking is the one sport avidly embraced by people from opposite political and social poles.  A slender vegetarian from suburban Washington shares a mountain climb in Shenandoah National Park with an Operation Desert Storm veteran.  A fundamentalist church group ascends a Blue Ridge peak because hiking “cleanses the spirit,” and they meet an outing of Unitarian Universalists seeking an activity that “cleanses the spirit.”  They come from the right and they come from the left, and they all gain perspective along the trail.

What distinguishes a hike from a mere walk is its status as a trek during which something is learned.  In Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, about 80 miles from Washington, D.C., the trail follows a steep mountainside where signs convey events from the Civil War — the path where Confederate soldiers marched Union prisoners down the steep slope into the village below, the heaps of native stone piled up by soldiers defending positions.  At the foot of the mountain, the trail incorporates the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal remnants, which once acted as the major trade route along the Potomac River.  Entering town, it passes a marker commemorating a long-ago stop by Lewis and Clark.

One hiker appreciates the rushing sound of the Potomac River.  Another appreciates the spring sun shining on silver maple blossoms.  Another stands at the Lewis and Clark marker and wonders what their hike must have entailed and whether a similar one waits.  In the final analysis, I suppose it is the Department of Internal Affairs that the great sport of hiking speaks most meaningfully to.


Bill Rozday grew up in western Pennsylvania and began writing at 13 years old. His latest work depicts a hike over a California mountaintop once hiked by Native Americans gathering obsidian to fashion into arrowheads.  A poet as well, he has published in periodicals in Scotland and Australia. Bill is the author of
The High Ground Books, a hiking series. For more information visit www.virginpinespress.com.

 

 

Gotham Chopra: Penn State Scandal And The Cult Of Sports (Part 2 of The Religion of Sports Series)

Yeah, I know I’m late to the party on this Sandusky thing. Or maybe I’m early because sadly this thing is going to drag on for years and haunt all of us after more gruesome details inevitably emerge.

I’m not going to rehash the timeline and details around the allegations of sexual misconduct charged against former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and the ensuing cover up by the football staff and community. If you don’t know what I am talking about, you may be better off and recommend you bury that pretty head back in the sand. If you need a refresher, this weeks Sports Illustrated cover story does a pretty bang up job.

The real reason I haven’t written anything is because I wasn’t really sure what to say. Everything around this case and these allegations are so sordid and sad. Innocent until proven guilty blah blah blah. I get it. We can’t string the guy up as yet and condemn him to a life in prison presumably on the other side of the deviancy and brutality that he’s alleged to have perpetrated on at least 8 young victims, some not even ten years old. If you don’t believe in karma, watch this thing play out if the charges ring true.

Yeah, so there’s not much to say in that regard. About the apparent cover up at the University, same crap, different day, different guise. That was never about football nor sports nor the cult of personality of Joe Paterno and all that other stuff written about so eloquently by various commentators the last few weeks since everything surfaced publicly. That was about the money. The Penn State football program generates in excess of $60 million dollars a year. Over the course of Coach Paterno’s coaching career (46 if you count the time before he became head coach), we’re talking in excess of $1 billion in revenue for the University. Yeah, you’ve seen the story before in other billion dollar businesses and industries. Alas, when the house of cards collapsed, it collapsed phenomenally. Beware of residual debris for years.

Alas, it is the sports part of it all that irks me. In the aftermath of everything going wide, my faith in sports came under attack. We were told over and over by commentators that it was our cultural obsession with sports like football at Universities like Penn State, our demigoguery of coaches like Paterno that created an enabling culture for crimes like these to be committed and then covered up.

Au contraire. I beg to differ. Perhaps the business of sports, the billions that flow through it, create a cauldron of duplicity, conceit, and false authority that emboldens abuse. But the religion of sports does quite the opposite.

Sports are great. They give us identity beyond our individual selves. They provide us the opportunity to invest ourselves into something we cannot control or force to our way. They offer us valuable lessons in devotion and faith and discipline and loyalty. We build cathedrals around them. We make pilgrimages to them. We have transcendent moments within them.

I’m well aware of the all too easy analogies between the Penn State sex scandal and the ones that have occurred far too often inside the catholic church over the years – probably centuries. I understand the horrible and tangled strands of deceit between the implicit power of institutions like the church and the drunken abuse that figures of authority within it subject their vulnerable victims to. But there’s a big difference. Religious dogma – or the officials that interpret it – often imposes rigid rules that can suppress basic human instincts. You’ll have a hard time convincing me that there is no correlation between rampant sexual misconduct amongst Catholic Priests whose piety to God is often expressed through endless abstinence and condemnation of the sacrilege sinfulness of sex. In other words, if you suppress it, it’s gonna express itself in other ways.

Sports at their core are the opposite. They are a celebration of our instincts – to compete, to push limits even while abiding by rules, to triumph and achieve glory. To be a fan of a sport is to take on an identity that transcends individual existence, to be something more than just your skin and bones, your limited individual potential.

Which brings me to my last point. My first reaction upon seeing hundreds, maybe thousands, of Penn State students take to the streets last week when their hallowed coach Paterno was unceremoniously sacked for his unwitting or witting part in the whole sick saga was one of disgust. Like millions of others watching the news, I was revolted by the images of students seemingly coming to the defense of an old coach that – if allegations are proven true – enabled a colleague he knew to be sick and a predator to young children to continue abuse for years right there in the locker room rather than showing any empathy for the victims of the abuse whose lives were forever shattered by such abuse. But the more I thought about, the more i realized I was being led astray. Just like the scandal and cover up has never been about football or sports, those scenes of defiance weren’t about the old coach. They were about identity. Call it what you will, but Penn State students for generations have formed their identity around coach Paterno, the football team and everything they together epitomized. To have it shattered in front of their very eyes, with no warning, and with such force and precision, how were they supposed to reach? If I were to tell you you are not who you think you are, that everything you believe to be true and that you have used to formulate your moral compass and sense of self no longer applies and then destroy it in your face, you may react poorly, illogical be it may.

We are who we are because of what we believe in, and the things we invest our sense of self in. Identity is a funny thing that way. But as fragile as it is, it’s also resilient. Because coaches come and go. Sadly some of them bring scandals with them. but eventually they go to, hopefully creating space for healing for their victims. But the games, they continue. And they’re always worth believing in.

Read Religion Of Sports Part 1 of 2 here 

PETA’s Veggie Sexy Too Steamy for Super Bowl

If vegetarianism was a sexual orientation, I’d be bisexual. I go both ways.  Some might call my behavior “bi-curious,” which is a fun word to say.  For the record, I’m  mostly vegetarian, but I dabble in seafood and poultry. I haven’t eaten red meat since the age of 9.  I think this makes me a flexitarian, someone who loosely adheres to a meat-free diet, or, possibly, a veggie swinger?

If it seems odd for me to consider the similarities between vegetables and sexuality, please forgive me.  I blame PETA. You may have heard that the organization’s Super Bowl commercial, featuring models and pseudo porn stars and fresh, innocent produce, was banned this week, for being too, ahem, steamy.  In case you missed it, here it is. 

Of course the commercial was rejected.  By all accounts, this was PETA’s intention from the start.  Spend a little money on production, get banned, generate buzz.  What better way to make a splash and save on media-buying costs associated with the most expensive air-time on television?  The animal rights group is known for making savvy (often sexually charged) publicity moves, with star power support from the likes of Pamela Anderson, Alicia Silverstone, Olivia Munn, Kellan Lutz, and many more.  I have to give them credit for this.  At a time when shock value is worth its weight in Yukon gold potatoes (remember Lady Gaga’s meat dress? . . . Oh, the, irony), PETA has made its point to the masses– right before a quintessential, American, meat-eating weekend.  Beef chili and chicken wings, anyone?

I can’t, however, condone the mistreatment of broccoli.  And, does anyone stop to think about little Celery?  That’s someone’s celery daughter. Admittedly, I love vegetables (almost enough to be monogamous), but I take issue with people who objectify or exploit them.  Oh, and, women, too, of course.

What do you think about PETA’s rejected Super Bowl commercial?

Become a Pick Up Sports Pied Piper

 

In honor of summer and outside playtime we’ve decided to take a look at the art of pick up sports. Spontaneous by nature, pick up games are meant to be easy in, easy out. But just because you have an empty field or unused court doesn’t mean you have a game: if you build it, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will come. Growing a strong pick up league requires some good old fashioned community organizing skills and in some cases, leveraging new technologies to help make it all that much easier. “Getting people to consistently show up is a challenge,” says Heather Estes of Pickupalooza. Read on for some of her pointers on how to keep them coming back for more.

1) Location, location, location. Go where the people already are and where sports are already happening. Even if you’ve found the most gorgeous soccer field by the airport, don’t try to recruit people there, that is unless you live by the airport. The point is to make this as easy as possible for people to join. Choose a convenient location, be sure there is plenty of parking or public transit access and choose a time that makes sense for folks with a typical work week.

2) Think beyond the ball. Pick up isn’t just basketball and soccer anymore. “Pick up sports can be invented games,” says Estes. Take geocaching– it doesn’t even require a ball. Sports where prior experience is not a must are a big hit. “If you didn’t grow up playing soccer, it puts you at a real disadvantage,” she says. “Games like kickball can level the playing field.”

3) Preach to the choir. Reach out to existing sports leagues and other established organizations. This is the easiest way to fill up your roster with a relatively small amount of effort. Create a flyer in PDF format. Send it to your friends and ask them to post it at their offices. Next, contact your area’s local sports leagues and notify them when and where you’ll be playing.

4) Dip into the digital toolbox. The best thing about starting a pick up league now is that there are all kinds of new tools for organizing groups. From Doodle to Google docs, we’re awash in technologies that foster collaboration. And if you live in one of Pickupalooza’s cities (Pittsburgh, D.C., Boston or San Francisco) your game just got a lot easier.

This post originally appeared on www.refresheverything.com, as part of the Pepsi Refresh Project, a catalyst for world-changing ideas. Find out more about the Refresh campaign, or to submit your own idea today.

Photo (cc) by Flickr user Three if by Bike

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