This Is a Game Worth Playing
Sandy “Spin” Slade sent a product for review to the Highway and it comes as no surprise to us that the offering, Basketball Skillastics® like Sandy herself is well organized, and entertaining. Sandy, as many of you know is world renowned for her expertise in handling a basketball and as a motivational speaker, appearing before audiences in excess of 200 times per year during her career. She has performed and spoken at levels ranging from elementary school all the way to N.B.A. venues and is well respected throughout the basketball community. After retiring as a performer in 2008, Sandy has taken on a new focus, that being physical fitness for children. Citing the fact that in today’s society 16% of children between the ages of 6 and 19 are overweight, Sandy has begun creating games geared towards ending this cycle.
Basketball Skillastics® is aimed at children in grades 1-8 and provides fun and fitness in a board game for physical education classes, parks and recreation centers, child care programs, etc. Children participate in 26 physical activities that are “challenging, yet non- competitive”. This non-competitive angle takes on great importance when you consider that many children, because of a lack of coordination skills, shy away from getting involved in physically demanding activities in an attempt to avoid embarrassment in front of their peers. Sandy’s game takes this element out of the equation giving even less coordinated kids an opportunity to participate with fellow students in a sports oriented endeavor. Let’s take a look at how the game is played.
Physical Fitness Can Be Fun
Our game arrived to us in a neatly contained pouch that included everything one needs to get started. This nylon carrying case also serves as a great storage bag for the entire game when finished playing meaning that misplaced pieces of the game will be kept to a minimum as opposed to tossing the contents into a box or volleyball bag. The game set included 1- 5×7 synthetic leather mat (latex free), 6 assorted and colored 3- inch foam dice, 6 assorted and colored 2.5 inch miniature beanbags, 6 miniature game boards for each team involved which are exact replicas of the 5×7 version, and detailed instructions on how to set up and play the game. Fitness instructors, insuring the safety of the children, reportedly approve all drills and 1-100 children can play at any given time. The only equipment needed to get started are enough balls for each child who participates and this can include either basketballs or playground balls such as rubber balls, volleyballs, etc.
Putting The Game To Into A Real Classroom Test
Though Sandy Slade has a great reputation, like any product reviewer worth his salt, I wanted to put this product to the test. Readers of the Highway certainly deserve quality reviews and Sandy deserves a quality critique of her product consequently I had to go no further than down the hallway of my own home to my wife who is a second grade teacher. My agreement with my wife was this. On her first rain day in which she could not get her kids out of the classroom and onto the playground, I wanted her to try this product and give me some quality feedback. My wife took the product to her school and as agreed upon waited for inclement weather. On her classes first day of rain and unable to get outside to the playground, my wife brought out Basketball Skillastics® and put it to the test with her 2nd grade class. She had her children move their desk back to the walls thereby opening up the center of her room for placement of the 5×7 mat. She divided her 24 kids into 6 groups and assigned each a colored die and tennis ball. The game then began and my wife stated she found out something almost instantly about her 2nd grade class. She observed almost immediately that many of her kids were woefully out of shape! Imagine 2nd graders being out of shape. She stated the kids appeared to have a great time with this game and then she gave me a tidbit testifying to the strength of this offering. She stated that once the game ended, and classroom instruction began again, she found many in her class to be more attentive and alert and not as “wiggly” in their chairs. Being a runner herself, she could only surmise that the heightened cardio work for each of her kids had helped to relax them and take them to an increased state of awareness. When I questioned her as to why this did not always seem to happen when outdoor recess ended she could only guess that it was because so many kids go outside during the break but never get involved in any kind of physical exertion, instead simply spending time idly talking on the playground or riding the merry-go-round. As a testament to the program, my wife claims that though the next recess day was sunny and clear, her kids asked repeatedly if they could play the “inside” game again.
It Teaches, It Works
Not to end there, I decided on one more test of Basketball Skillastics® and I took the product to a local after school program and dropped it off. Sandy claims that this game is perfect for after school programs, right? Boy was she correct. In speaking with the 2 program directors, here is what I found. Having 40 after school participants can be a trying time for even the most skilled of teachers. Kids are full of energy and many are anxious to get home according to the directors. As such, many of these same children can find themselves looking for “things to get into”, even in an enclosed environment such as a gymnasium. Older kids sometimes pick on younger students and keeping up with children who “need to go to the restroom” born out of sheer boredom can become a teachers nightmare. But after letting the directors use the product for just 2 days, they became sold on its benefits. As the directors told me, because they were able to place the kids in teams, oversight of the students became a non-issue as all wanted to participate and the activity was not only fun but also beneficial from a safety standpoint. Some children I am told, while in the midst of a game, made their parents wait until the game was completed before leaving for home. That’s a pretty solid testamonial if you ask me.
Folks, Sandy Slade has made a career out of bringing smiles to the faces of people. Her hands on skills with a basketball are legendary and widely respected. Now she has taken her talents to a new and different level with the invention of Basketball Skillastics®. Not only will this product keep kids entertained, but it will enhance physical fitness with flexibility drills, cardio improvements and an increased self-image. I put this game to the real test with the everyday “foot soldier”, also known by the term “teacher”. If a teacher says a product is good, you can bet that it is and I can assure you that the teachers I spoke with loved this offering. I rate this product 5 + and would recommend it highly.
According to a recently released report by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based on a continued state-by-state survey, titled “Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System,” obesity rates have nearly doubled since these studies were initially conducted some 16 years ago.
Obesity is measured by the body mass index (BMI). A person with a BMI of 30 or higher is diagnosed as obese. Someone who is a 5’8″ tall and weighs 200 pounds, for example, has a BMI of 30.4. The definition can vary for athletes, pregnant women and also for children, depending on their age and gender.
Although obesity rates are up in every part of the population, there are observable racial differences, with more African Americans, Native Americans and Hispanics being affected than Caucasians. Age also seems to matter. Americans tend to become heavier after the age of 50.
More significant, however, are geographical differences. The states with the highest percentage of obese residents, 30% and over, are almost all in the south. Researchers say that culture and lifestyle may play a role, but also education, income and availability of food resources. Some point to the so-called “grocery gap,” that is the lack of availability and affordability of nutritious foods, like fresh produce, in low-income urban neighborhoods and poor rural areas.
Another massive obstacle is health education, or rather the lack thereof. Large parts of the population are simply ignorant or confused about the basic facts of healthful nutrition. Let’s face it; we have a persistent health illiteracy in this country.
If we are to expect people to improve their eating- and lifestyle habits, we must come up with better, more user-friendly ways to educate them. Many health books are too academic. Diet programs are expensive and promise more than they deliver. Nutrition and ingredients labels are difficult to decipher (perhaps on purpose) and don’t help to make better choices.
It is also futile to call for more physical exercise when neighborhoods are unsafe and parks are closed because of budget cuts. Schools are regularly forced to eliminate physical education (PE) from their curriculum, and poor communities can’t afford public pools and sport facilities.
Government-sponsored initiatives and national campaigns – like Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” program to reduce childhood obesity – could be a good start. But they are insufficiently funded and rarely reach those who need them the most.
What we really need is a mandatory national health literacy program in all public schools, to be taught across all grade levels. The “Edible School Yard” project of Alice Waters in Oakland, California could serve as an initial model. The kids who participate in this program not only learn how to grow foods and vegetables – even in the midst of an urban environment – and how to prepare wholesome meals from scratch, they also discover and appreciate the benefits of healthy living from early on, which will hopefully serve them well for the rest of their lives.
Timi Gustafson R.D. is a clinical dietitian and author of “The Healthy Diner – How to Eat Right and Still Have Fun™,” is available on her blog http://www.timigustafson.com and at Amazon. Her latest book, “Kids Love Healthy Foods™” is now available in e-book format at www.amazon.com
Getting injured is part of athletics. It is rare to find an athlete that is injury free. If you take me as an example, I broke three bones, sprained my ankles and strained (pulled) muscles too many times during my scholastic, collegiate and professional athletic career. The thing I learned is the human body’s ability to heal is amazing. And when the injury does happen, we want the healing process to occur quickly. Injuries seem to happen at the most inconvenient time! But the truth of the matter is there is never a good time for an injury and we don’t get to pick the time when to get injured. One tip to a successful rehabilitation is being prepared mentally. You must be patient and committed to following the regiment of your athletic trainer, physical therapist and/or physicians, AND work hard to get back into top notch physical condition. Latly, understand your physical limitations until your medical professional indicates you have recovered 100% or you run the risk of recurring injuries.
A couple months ago, a high school athlete asked me for some stationary ball-handling drills while she was recovering from a knee injury. I was impressed with her dedication and perseverance, so with her permission, I have included her story of how she dealt with the mental and physical rehabilitation process. Here is her story.
In February of this year, I collided with a girl during a basketball game. As I went down, I hyper extended and twisted my knee. I spent the next three hours in the emergency ward only to have the doctor tell me that nothing was wrong with it. He told me I should just rest it for the next couple of days.
I found over the next week that I couldn’t straighten or bend it. We went to see a second doctor who recommended we see an orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon told me that I had almost certainly torn my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), but he would not be able to confirm this without doing an arthroscopy. The ACL is the ligament that keeps the tibia (your shin bone) in the right place relative to your femur (your thigh bone). He suggested I undergo physiotherapy to see what sort of function my knee would return to. He also told me that if I did need a reconstruction of my ACL that I would be out of basketball for 9-12 months. This was not good news to me.
I went through a lot of physiotherapy, and it got to the point where I was beginning to think that the surgeon had been wrong and my ACL wasn’t torn. Within a month I had very good stability in my knee and no pain. I was given an ACL brace to wear during hard activities.
Unfortunately, just when I was getting really optimistic I had a big setback. During a pick up game with friends, I made a move to block a shot and my knee gave out under me when I landed. I was really disappointed. After that I knew that I wouldn’t be able to play without being scared of hurting my knee, so I would have to get it reconstructed.
In April, I had arthroscopic surgery, and the surgeon confirmed that I had stretched my ACL to the point where it wouldn’t function properly in high impact activities and that I would need the reconstruction unless I was willing to change my lifestyle completely. The good news was all my other ligaments and cartilage had not been damaged.
Leaving basketball isn’t an option for me. I can’t ever imagine not walking out onto the court again. The reconstruction is now scheduled and at this time I am still rehabilitating my knee from the scope. It is very important that my knee and the muscles in my leg are in excellent condition for surgery. When they replace the ACL with the hamstring tendons the measurement must be exact or my knee will never be 100%.
This has been devastating and hard to work through but I am slowly finding ways of reinventing my life. I am taking my pilot’s license, working at a rock climbing gym, and doing ball-handling drills to keep up on my basketball skills.