Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

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Archive for February 6th, 2010

How video games make your kid a better athlete

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Wired’s Chris Suellentrop is echoing the chorus that attributes the increasingly complex brand of football played at lower levels, and the strategies employed at the highest levels, on a generation’s worth of players growing up with the Madden video game, which premiered in 1989. After all, if pilots get better through flight simulators, and studies show that gamers make better surgeons, then it stands to reason that years of basement video-game playing could translate into real-life football, right?

Cognitive scientists have published a series of studies demonstrating that playing fast-paced action videogames — mostly first-person shooters like Call of Duty and Halo — can alter “some of the fundamental aspects of visual attention,” as a paper published in the July 2009 issue of Neuropsychologia put it. By training on these games, researchers found, nongamers can achieve faster reaction time, improved hand-eye coordination, and greatly increased ability to process multiple stimuli. Studies have demonstrated that military pilots and laparoscopic surgeons can improve their professional skills by playing videogames. It’s not much of a leap to think that athletes could, too.

There are limits to how much virtual training will be able to boost on-field performance, of course. Don’t expect football to follow on the heels of poker, a game in which Internet-trained players have upended the professional cartel. (Chris Moneymaker won’t be quarterbacking the Titans next year.) A better analogy for virtual training could be weight lifting: It’s an activity that won’t turn you into a professional athlete, but if you are one, it will make you better at your sport. And once everyone starts doing it, you’ll need to do it regularly to remain competitive.

Plus, you don’t need to inject steroids into your teammate’s ass to make them a better gamer.

I would say something smart-alecky about Suellentrop’s thesis… except that I agree with it. Suellentrop has plenty of supporters, including pro athletes, in his story. But I’ve seen it work in my own kids.

When my oldest son, now 12, first signed up for baseball, he didn’t know much about the rules of the game — but he learned them quickly, thanks to a preseason of playing Backyard Baseball. He’s not tall enough or strong enough to stand out playing basketball — he didn’t make his seventh-grade team. But I can’t help but think that his strongest suit — quick, thread-the-needle passing — is helped by his years of gaming. If he can figure out how to snake through a zombie-infested subway in Left 4 Dead while also being aware of his teammates’ position, it makes sense that he can make a quick decision with the ball when his teammates are surrounded.

Where I see games translating to real life the most is in my 7-year-old son’s bowling league. First, the whole reason he got interested in bowling is because of Wii Sports. But he, and his teammates, have learned to adjust their starting positions and throws because of Wii bowling. And then it circles back, with my son using real bowling to help position himself on Wii bowling. And then using what he learned from that applied back to Wii bowling.

So if your kids are spending a lot of time playing video games — don’t freak out!

Written by rkcookjr

February 6, 2010 at 7:27 pm

America's craziest Christian football coach declares run for Congress

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davedaubenmire

Dave Daubenmire is the most successful high school football coach in America at running his offense out of the wingnut formation.

Since 1999, when he got canned from London (Ohio) High School following a lawsuit over his bringing his extreme religion into the classroom and the locker room, Daubenmire has become a right-wing media star, with multiple appearances in his ever-present cross cap on such standard who-loves-America-the-most shows such as Hannity.

Daubenmire, who as football coach at Fairfield Christian Academy in Lancaster, Ohio, can preach to the converted all he wants without the mean ol’ ACLU getting in the way, wants to fight the evil godless government from within, having filed to run as a Republican for the House of Representatives seat held by Democrat Zack Space, one of Daubenmire’s many mortal enemies.

From the Chillicothe Gazette:

Daubenmire said the time is right for a conservative grass-roots campaign to succeed, especially in a district dominated by Republican presidential candidate John McCain in the 2008 election.

“I could run as an independent, but I don’t want to do that,” Daubenmire said [Jan. 28] on his radio show on WLRY, in Rushville. “I’m convinced whoever wins the Republican primary will be the next elected representative in the 18th District.

“(Space) is not even a Blue Dog. We have the most traitorous Democrat, Zack Space, in that position.”

Daubenmire used his radio show to blast the president and the policies of the Democrat-controlled Congress.

“I don’t think we understand the depth of the evil that is involved in the American government,” Daubenmire said.

“We watch the president of the United States. If he is under demonic control, we watch him on TV and we are hypnotized and drawn to him and how articulate he is. We say he’d never do that or that would never happen. What are the limits of the depths of evil of the evil one? How evil could his minions be?”

The … coach said on the radio show he was still undecided about entering the race, saying he would be assaulted by news media and portrayed as an idiot.

“The question I’m struggling with, I guess, I don’t know, is who better than me to grab the sword of the spirit and go into the devil’s lair and swing that sword,” Daubenmire said.

Here is video of Daubenmire swinging his sword in a sit-in outside Space’s home office in Dover, Ohio. He vowed to sit there until Space had a town hall meeting on health system reform, specifically one involving Daubenmire personally. (Space did have meetings, though none involving the coach.)

[youtubevid id=”s0acpiFx9OY”]

If Daubenmire sounds like he’s moved beyond Christianity into delusion, it’s because he has. In his personal bio, Daubenmire notes he started his Pass the Salt ministry after a great victory over the American Civil Liberties Union. It sued the London City Schools on behalf of parents complaining that Daubenmire required players to participate in team prayer, and preached during practice and during class. The case was settled the day before it was supposed to go to court in 1999, and Daubenmire was fired. Here is how Daubenmire recalls the ending:

After a two year battle for his 1st amendment rights and a determination to not back down, the ACLU relented and offered coach an out of court settlement. God honored his stand and the ACLU backed off. Coach’s courageous stand, an inspiration to Americans everywhere, demonstrated that the ACLU can be defeated.

And here is the ACLU’s recollection, in a release whose title begins ACLU Declares Victory:

The settlement, which ACLU attorneys have been quietly negotiating with lawyers for the district and the coaches since early last month, prohibits future acts of religious indoctrination and establishes a system for reporting violations of the agreement to the United States District Court in Columbus [also, for two years any violations had to be reported to the ACLU]. …

[T]he London School Board voted unanimously to accept the terms offered by the ACLU.

Daubenmire also never mentioned that he sued the complaining parents for defamation — and lost.

Of course, Daubenmire has a long history of using the ACLU’s scorn and other people’s disapproval as the fuel for his holy fire, and I don’t mean the one he set when he publicly burned a copy of the Koran. Like his good buddy Alan Keyes, Daubenmire uses his runs for office (he also ran unsucessfully for the Ohio State Board of Education in 2004) to bring more attention to his own activities, and get himself more time on Fox News.

In fact, Daubenmire, as he hinted above, is running as a Republican out of expediency, not out of love for the party. He probably is insulted that the Chillcothe Gazette referred to him as a conservative, given one of his jeremiads: “Let Conservatism Die.”

Meanwhile, the modern “conservative” movement awakened by Barry Goldwater, carried up the mountain by Ronald Reagan, preached over the airwaves by Limbaugh and Hannity [editor’s note: great way to guarantee future apperances on their programs], and destroyed by GW Bush and the Republican Party is still being called “conservatism” by those on both the winning and the losing side.

… [C]onservatives went “compassionate” (which really meant compromised) and sold Christianity down the river; Only Christians aren’t smart enough to realize it. They still vote the way “conservatives” Hannity and Limbaugh tell them to, because, after all, they are “conservatives” too. Christianity and conservativism are not the same thing.

… You wouldn’t have to look very far into the “conservative” Republican Party to find the fornicators, covetous, idolators, railers, drunkards, or extortioners. Just look at the guest list at a Republican fundraiser. Those “conservatives” are the one’s [sic] that our Christian leadership are breaking bread with inside the big Republican tent. Is it any wonder they have lost? Has the Republican Party compromised their position to advance the standards of Jesus or has the Christian leadership compromised on the standards of our Savior to advance Republican candidates? … Let conservatism die.

I’m not sure the coach’s offensive activities will get him elected, but they certainly will score points with a certain amount of the electorate — the ones who enjoy watching their politics run out of the wingnut formation.

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