Are You Ready? Why Do Men Love Football So Much?

What Is It About Football That Men Love So Much?

Football is back, baby, and let’s be completely honest for a moment.  Men LOVE football!  It’s not just a pastime.  It’s crucially important to most of us, and it’s a downright obsession for others.  What is it about the male psyche that makes men love football so much?  What is it that glues us to the television sets from late August to early February, and what is it that leaves us feeling somewhat unfulfilled for the other half of the year?

Like most other guys in Texas, I was raised on a steady diet of gridiron.  From Friday Night Lights to Monday Night Football, no other activity was more actively celebrated.  Dad told men love footballme stories about his high school glory days and the exploits of his childhood NFL heroes.  When I was old enough to suit up and take the field for the first time, he beamed with pride and reveled in my every success.  And when my playing days were over, I felt deep pangs of regret, wishing that I could have another opportunity to do it again and to do it better.  Sometimes I still have dreams that high school football season is about to start, and it’s going to be my second chance to excel.

Why?  Why do I still dream about playing football?  Why has this game captured our attention so?

Yeah . . . Guys Like Violence, But It’s More Than That

The fact that guys are enticed by violence is not much of a secret.  The rise in popularity of the UFC, first-person-shooter video games, and over-the-top action movies should be enough to prove that.  Football is a sport of brute strength and high-speed collisions, so it meets the same psychological need for men.  It taps into our warrior spirits as few other sports are able to do.  The martial arts are about the only other activities that involve such domination through physical contact, but they’re individual sports.  Football steps it up a notch because it’s my guys’ collective strength against your guys’.

You see, most men have never had an opportunity to participate directly in this kind of tribal warfare, and it burns us up inside.  We are built for physicality.  We are especially suited for battle.  We are shaped into brutes by a force beyond our own control, and we must have outlets for that undeniable aggression.  And above all that, we really value brotherhood and loyalty.

tribal warfare

© Isaiahlove | Dreamstime Stock Photos

The team component makes football even more attractive to men because it creates a band of brothers who are ready to fight and die (metaphorically, of course) for each other. This loyalty extends into the stands, and across small towns, and throughout metropolitan areas, and probably most apparently, among school alumni.  The same camaraderie that ties players together on the field unites former students of universities and loyal ex-citizens across the globe.

“My school has a better team than your school!”

“The Broncos are going to kill the Ravens in the opener!”

“I don’t care if Johnny Manziel is acting like a punk kid!  He can still run circles around any other QB in the country!”

 

So Why Do So Many Men Love Football More Than Other Team Sports?

I think that can be answered by reviewing a quick history of the game’s evolution.  Football didn’t begin in its current state.  Over hundreds of years, this sport changed from a highly restrictive game of finesse into an adrenaline-driven smash fest.  How, and why, did that happen?

Football is the most popular sport in the world.  Guys in Mexico, Brazil, and England go absolutely gaga for it.  Didn’t you know?  Oh no, not the kind of football you’ve been reading about.  I’m talking about what we now call soccer here in the States.  Why did we change the name to soccer?  Because we had to differentiate it somehow from it’s more violent grandson, American Football.

rugby

English football of course has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years and is played primarily with the feet (hence the name).  The rules explicitly prohibit handling the ball.  Well, one day back in the early 1800s, a guy playing the age-old game of football at a boarding school in the little town of Rugby, England decided to break the rules, pick up the ball, and run with it.  I can practically hear the thoughts running through his head: “Yeah, I know it’s against the rules, but who’s gonna stop me?”  Rugby football was born of rebellion, another concept with which we guys are quite familiar.

Along the way several other people got hold of the game that would ultimately be known as American football, adding pads, the forward pass, and pauses between plays which make every down a testosterone-charged whirlwind of chaos.  By the early 20th century, the game had become so violent that President Bronco NagurskiTheodore Roosevelt demanded reforms to the game in which his son was then participating at Harvard University.  Rules had to be added for the safety of the players.

Interestingly enough, it’s the ever-widening rule book and the restriction of play that peeves most guys to the core nowadays.  When you get right down to it, right or wrong, it’s the uncivilized brutality that attracts us to the game.  Men love football so much because no other team sport (not rugby, not hockey, not lacrosse) can guarantee that somebody is going to get plowed over in a shocking and awe-inspiring fashion on just about every play.  This year, as in most years in recent memory, controversial new rules have been added to make an inherently unsafe game slightly safer.  But even though it’s no longer the game that I played, and it’s certainly not the game that my father played, I’m still glad that it’s back for another season.

Here’s to manliness!  Here’s to football!

 

My Addiction to CrossFit Workouts

What is CrossFit?

The buzz surrounding CrossFit workouts, and the resulting explosion of CrossFit gyms opening around the country, has been on the rise for the past several years.  I first started to take notice in late 2011 when an acquaintance of mine seemed to transform from a pudgy, non-athletic mess to a super-fit and increasingly confident individual before my eyes.  I recall thinking to myself, “Whatever this CrossFit thing is, it’s the real deal.”  Little did I know that slightly more than a year later I would be craving the CrossFit burn myself; more so than any workout program that I’ve ever experienced.

CrossFit Workouts

With workout names like “The Chief” and “The Lumberjack,” is it any surprise that he’s toting a sledge hammer?

If you were to look for a core definition of what CrossFit workouts are designed to be, you might stumble across phrases like “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movement” or “broad, general, and inclusive fitness.”  The truth of the matter is that CrossFit workouts are designed to push you to a level of intensity that you’ve likely never experienced and to prepare your body for physical tasks which you’ve probably never imagined yourself doing.  The first time I was asked to complete Toes to Bar or learned what a freakin’ Muscle Up is supposed to look like, I thought, “Holy crap!  What have I gotten myself into?”  I’ll also never forget a friend’s anecdote about looking up at the posted completion times for the workout that he had just finished and thinking that he had done pretty well to get into the middle of the pack on his first try.  Only then did he realize that he had been looking at the women’s times.  CrossFit workouts are nothing if not humbling.

What are CrossFit Workouts Like?

CrossFitGames

I don’t look like this quite yet, but I certainly wouldn’t mind.

If you sign up at a local CrossFit gym, I can assure you that they’ll ease you into things and make sure that you can perform the necessary movements before unleashing the full fury of the program upon you. Eventually you’re going to be faced with the ultra-challenging “named” workouts, plus any number of other WODs (Workout of the Day) designed to propel you into the proverbial “beast mode,” and everything is timed in order to keep you competing and pressing for new personal records. Here’s what our lovely trainer, Bonnie, cooked up for my wife and me this afternoon:

Warm-up : 3 Rounds

25 Single Jump Ropes

10 Hand-Release Push-ups

10 V-ups

WOD: 4 Rounds

10 Dumbbell Floor Presses

10 Pull-ups

10 Kettlebell Swings

10 Toes to Bar (I had to do knees to elbows because I’m still a weakling)

Oh, That Wasn’t Enough . . . Partner WOD: 3 Rounds

10 Supermans

10 Medicine Ball Situps

10 Partner Push-ups

I’ve found that most CrossFit workouts will expose at least one very weak link in your overall fitness.  My weak link is usually the abs, but today it was forearm grip strength.  By the time I got to the fourth round of pull-ups and knees to elbows, I had to break up the reps just to keep from falling off the bar!

Where Do I Sign Up?

Whether you’re training for a competitive sport, or getting ready for your next weekend mud run, or you just want to stop looking and feeling like a jelly donut, I challenge you to find out what CrossFit workouts can do for you.  Even if you consider yourself a novice or completely out of shape, CrossFit has a class at the appropriate level to get you started.

Find your local affiliate here, and get after it!  If you’re in the Austin area, I strongly recommend CrossFit Texas in Pflugerville.

 

Principles of Leadership From the U.S. Army Ranger Handbook

Principles of Leadership

US Army Ranger HandbookI recently began studying a combatives self defense system that I expected to highlight in the Warrior section of this site (I still plan to do so at a later date).  Little did I know that one of the ancillary documents included with my purchase would also give tremendous insight into solid principles of leadership as outlined by some of our nation’s elite warriors. Though I’m not a military man, I’m fascinated by military discipline and commitment, and as I thumbed through the now publicly available 2006 version of the U.S. Army Ranger Handbook, I found that it is much more than an instruction manual designed to train soldiers on basic policies and procedures.  It’s an inspirational document that digs deeply into the characteristics of manly leadership as well.

The Principles of Leadership Are:  Be, Know, Do

(my insights added in italics)

BE
• Technically and tactically proficient.
• Able to accomplish to standard all tasks required for the wartime mission.  (I love the fact that Ranger leaders are held to this standard.  Shouldn’t a leader be expected to understand and to be able to complete each and every task that he delegates to his subordinates?  How many leaders in the private sector can claim this level of proficiency?)
• Courageous, committed, and candid.  (Not deterred by danger or pain; bound or obligated, as under a pledge, to a particular cause, action, or attitude; truthful and straightforward – definitions from Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
• A leader with integrity.

KNOW
• The four major factors of leadership and how they affect each other are–
—Led
—Leader
—Situation
—Communications

principles of leadership
• Yourself, and the strengths and weaknesses in your character, knowledge, and skills.  Seek continual self-improvement, that is, develop your strengths and work to overcome your weaknesses.  (The maxim of ancient Greek philosophy, “Know thyself,” is the basis for all great achievements.  Sun Tzu emphasized this truth in The Art of War, and countless other great thinkers have cited this foundational idea through the centuries.) 

• Your Rangers, and look out for their well-being by training them for the rigors of combat, taking care of their physical and safety needs, and disciplining and rewarding them.  (Note that discipline AND reward are prescribed as techniques of effective leadership.  It can’t just be one or the other.  Knowing the unique characteristics of each member of the team is necessary to select appropriate methods of discipline and reward.)

DO–
• Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions; exercise initiative; demonstrate resourcefulness; and take advantage of opportunities on the battlefield that will lead to you to victory; accept fair criticism, and take corrective actions for your mistakes.  (Wow!  If only our politicians could read this!)
• Assess situations rapidly, make sound and timely decisions, gather essential information, announce decisions in time for Rangers to react, and consider the short- and long-term effects of your decision.
• Set the example by serving as a role model for your Rangers. Set high but attainable standards; be willing do what you require of your Rangers; and share dangers and hardships with them.  (A leader is an exemplar.  Actions always speak louder than words.)
• Keep your subordinates informed to help them make decisions and execute plans within your intent, encourage initiative, improve teamwork, and enhance morale.  (A leader is a delegator.  Give them the ability to make decisions for the good of the organization.)
• Develop a sense of responsibility in subordinates by teaching, challenging, and developing them. Delegate to show you trust them. This makes them want more responsibility.  (A leader is a teacher.  Demonstrate truth and then trust.)
• Ensure the Rangers understand the task; supervise them, and ensure they accomplish it. Rangers need to know what you expect: when and what you want them to do, and to what standard.  (A leader is a communicator.  Don’t assume that your team understands the big picture unless you have explained it fully.)
• Build the team by training and cross-training your Rangers until they are confident in their technical and tactical abilities. Develop a team spirit that motivates them to go willingly and confidently into combat.  (A leader is a motivator.  Give them the incentive to succeed!)
• Know your unit’s capabilities and limitations, and employ them accordingly.

What a wealth of knowledge; all of it taken from a single page on the principles of leadership!  I don’t typically put too much faith in documents created by the 21st Century U.S. Government, but our military men still seem to understand how the world really works.  Take these principles of leadership and apply them to your roles as a leader in your family, at your workplace, and in your community.

Temar Boggs: Outstanding Man-in-Training!

Temar Boggs Rescues Abducted Child! Chased Down Car On His Bike For 15 Minutes + Interview! – YouTube.

 

Saw this last week, and I thought I just had to post it as the Profile of Manhood for July.  Temar Boggs is only a teenager, but he’s well on his way to being a man, and he acted like it in this critical scenario.  Not only was he taking the time to help an old lady move a couch, he dropped everything to search for a missing little girl and directly contributed to her recovery.

temar-boggsWay to go, Temar!  This is a spectacular example of a man-in-training.  Great to see a young kid who is willing to go above and beyond for someone else.  Even though he had to put himself at risk, he made the difference for someone who couldn’t fight for themselves.  That’s what it’s all about, guys.

Would a Real Man Choose a Plant-Based Diet Over a Traditional Carnivorous Existence?

Plant-Based Diet?  Really?

If there is one thing that I have tried to do consistently here, it is to initiate topical discussions on issues that are a part of my personal development as a man, as a husband, and as a father.  I believe that there is nothing so irresponsible as to state an opinion on something that is outside the realm of one’s own contemplation and personal experience.  That being said, I can honestly affirm that the pros and cons of a plant-based diet would have been, quite possibly, one of the most unlikely topics that I ever would have considered for this site – until about a week ago.

plant-based dietPerhaps the title of this post alone is enough for some “manly men” to write me off as a complete lunatic.  Men are supposed to eat meat!  We’re the hunters and warriors!  We need meat to fuel our strength and courage, and only a yuppie metro-sexual girly man would think otherwise.  I can’t really say that I blame any who have that reaction.  I would have been among that group myself very recently, but I’ve turned a complete 180-degrees in a very short time frame, and I’m writing today to tell you why.

For the record, I’ve eaten more than my fair share of meat and animal products for the past thirty-three years.  My favorite food is pizza with tons of cheese and Italian pork sausage.  I’m an avid hunter, and I love preparing new recipes from the wild game that I’ve taken in the field.  I’m not an animal rights activist by any stretch of the imagination, and I fully support the rights of human beings to eat anything that they find tasty and satisfying.  But the reality is that I have been introduced to a set of facts that I simply cannot ignore, and I am now fully committed to leading my family along a pathway to a plant-based diet of whole foods that is not built upon meat, dairy, eggs or animal byproducts of any kind.  I’m officially making the transition to a mostly-vegan way of life!

Alright, when you’ve stopped laughing, and when you’re ready to read more about what could have possibly driven me to this level of madness, please continue.

My wife and I are both from Texas, the beef capital of America.  We love a good steak, a crawfish boil, and traditional Tex-Mex cuisine.  We also come from families that have seen their share of what seem to be largely American medical conditions.  My mother was diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes a few years before she passed away from breast cancer.  My wife’s father died from colorectal/liver cancer in his early 50s.  My grandmother went under the knife during her last year on this earth, and the surgeons found so much cancer that they felt there was little that could be done other than to close her up and to send her home to die.  My wife’s grandmother is currently in a home where she suffers from the dementia normally associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.  Both sides of the family have well-documented history of heart disease, high blood-pressure, and obesity.  We’ve been living our lives thinking that our only option was to try to enjoy ourselves while we’re young and to prepare for the inevitable sickness to come.

Forks Over KnivesA couple of months ago, my wife was referred to a documentary on Netflix called Forks Over Knives.  To make a long story somewhat shorter, if you haven’t watched it, please do so.  This feature-length film examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods.  I refused to watch it initially, not wanting to be confronted with a message that I knew would be hard to swallow.  I finally decided that I had to see what it was about seven days ago, and I’ve been in comprehensive research mode ever since.  Although the evidence presented in the film is nothing short of life-changing, I was really concerned that the logistics of making this kind of change would simply be overwhelming and unsustainable.  This is a major overhaul to my way of life!

The Engine 2 DietI went on to read a spin-off book by Rip Esselstyn, a firefighter and professional triathlete here in my home town of Austin, called The Engine 2 Diet.  Esselstyn adopted a plant-based diet later in life, after a self-professed loathing for vegetables during most of his youth.  The son of one of the leading contributors to the Forks Over Knives research, Rip focuses more on making the vegan lifestyle realistic and attainable for every-day life.  He provides a 28-day eating plan with a nice selection of tasty-looking recipes, and he even compiles the necessary grocery lists for each week of the program.  He makes a plant-based diet seem reasonable, and his book is highly recommended reading.

I urge you to consider this summary set of facts from Esselstyn’s book for yourself and for your family:

  • In more than half of all heart disease cases, the first symptom is instant death.
  • Plant-based products discourage plaque buildup and promote the health of your artery lining, and . . . existing heart disease can be halted in its tracks, or even reversed.
  • Keeping your blood pressure in check can minimize stroke risk – but eating meat, dairy, eggs and added oils raises blood pressure in several ways.
  • Multiple studies show that dairy products contain cancer-promoting saturated fat; animal protein; and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), a powerful growth-promoting hormone and known cancer culprit.
  • Meat protein creates an acidic environment that is also a breeding ground for cancer cells, . . . and meat fat is a magnet for chemical carcinogens that are stored in fat tissue.
  • Meat is high in oxidants, such as iron, which not only oxidize cholesterol – a process that makes it more easily deposited in your arteries – but also promotes free radicals that mutate your cells’ DNA and turn them into renegade cancer cells.
  • Diabetes doubles your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.
  • Published medical research has shown that a low-fat, plant-based diet was three times more effective than the American Diabetes Association diet in reducing A1C, a marker that best identifies the amount of sugar in the blood over a three-month period.
  • Alzheimer’s disease has been linked to plaque formations, composed of a rogue protein called beta-amyloid, that develop in the pockets between brain cells.
  • Numerous studies have shown a direct correlations between the amount of cholesterol and fat in the diet and the amount of beta-amyloid protein buildup in the body.
  • Myriad other studies have linked Alzheimer’s disease with high levels of a substance called homocysteine, a byproduct of the essential amino acid methionine, which is two to three times more prevalent in animal proteins than in plant proteins.
  • The low-fat, nutrient-rich, anti-oxidant and fiber-filled vegan diet has been proven to prevent and reverse several of the most deadly and devastating health issues that plague our country and our world today.

Faced with this set of facts, I felt as if I were looking at a simple choice: continue to eat as I always have, knowing that I’m likely to face the onset of heart disease, cancer, and/or diabetes before I reach retirement age, or make a radical change to my diet to capitalize on research that has proven that these health risks can be the exception rather than the rule, even for those with genetic predispositions to one or more of them.  It’s a no-brainer in my book.

So my family and I are embarking on the 28-day plan starting next week, not because we feel sad for the cows, chickens, and pigs that we’ve been eating, or because we are morally opposed to the factory farming industry that has arisen in this country to fuel our passion for meat, eggs and dairy (something worth considering if you never have).  We’re making this decision because of the overwhelming research that shows that we can expect to see significant reductions in body fat, LDL cholesterol, blood-pressure, fasting blood sugar, and resting heart rate.  We are taking back the responsibility for avoiding the heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s that have affected so many of our relatives and loved ones.  We’re bringing our children along for the ride in the hopes that they will continue to embrace healthy lifestyles for themselves, and I’m putting the information to you as well so that you’ll at least have the opportunity to make an informed decision.

Watch, read, research, think!  Repeat as needed.

 

 

 

 

Home Defense – What Is Your Plan?

What is your plan for home defense?  Take a look at the video.  Warning, it is difficult to watch at times, even though most of the worst moments have been edited out.  This is what we’re up against, men.  Let’s start the discussion right here.

Scary Home Invasion In Millburn, NJ Caught On Tape!! – Megyn Kelly Reports – 6/25/2013 – YouTube.

 

What are you doing to protect your wife and kids from evil that is willing to watch and wait until they are home alone without your protection?  If this man had targeted your home, would it have been different for your wife and kids?  What is your wife prepared to do against a 220-pound man who wants to beat her into submission?  If you had actually been present when he burst through that door, what would you have done to change the situation?

home defense weaponsThis happened in broad daylight, in a relatively nice neighborhood.  The woman had all the doors locked.  She did not have a burglar alarm.  Would it have made a difference?  Whether there was a gun in the house or not, she obviously wouldn’t have had much of an opportunity to get to it.  Is that the answer?  She doesn’t seem to have been trained in any effective form of self-defense.  Would she have been able to escape if she had the proper training?  These are all very serious questions that each of us must consider.

As I have already stated on this site, you are responsible for defending against travesties of this kind, and your defensive actions, and the defensive actions of your loved ones, cannot be purely reactive.  You need a plan.  What is your plan for home defense?  I don’t want this just to be another post.  Anyone who sees this video needs to be spurred to action.  Comment.  Share.  Follow.  Comment again!

 

Abraham Lincoln – (2/12/1809 – 4/15/1865)

abraham lincolnI’ll be honest.  I do not believe that I can do Abraham Lincoln justice with a short write up.  He is one of the most iconic and inspirational figures in the history of our planet, and he serves as an important role model for us all.  If you are looking for an example of integrity and responsibility in a leader, look no further.

The embedded video from History’s America: The Story of Us is a short summary of why this man is revered as one of our nations most beloved heroes.  I think Aaron Sorkin nails it toward the end when he speaks of how most Americans view Lincoln.

America: The Story of Us: Abraham Lincoln – YouTube.

There are many videos that do a more comprehensive job of describing the achievements of Abraham Lincoln; his taking responsibility for his own education, his channeling ambition into a lasting legacy, and his dealing with the political challenges of the greatest internal conflict our nation has ever experienced.  If you have time, take a look at these:

Biography’s Full Documentary Episode

History’s  The Lincoln Assassination

One of the most striking and admirable aspects of Abraham Lincoln in my mind was his ability to write and deliver poignant rhetoric.  Here are some quotes that provide valuable insight into the philosophies of our 16th President:

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.”

“You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s initiative and independence.”

“I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.”

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.”

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”