The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SPORTS

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Sporting events are always going to be a central part of the American experience. In the fall, Americans tune in to watch their favorite sports, be it the NFL, MLB, NHL, and even the NBA. Every two years, we come together as a nation to support Team USA in the Winter or Summer Olympics. We even sometimes come together to see the USA compete in World Cup play.


American sports bleed into American life — and vice-versa. From the yellow ribbon tied around the Superdome during Super Bowl XV to remember hostages taken in Iran to chants of “USA” when a crowd in Philadelphia learned about the death of Osama bin Laden, American sports fans and players wear their American hearts on their sleeves.

 1. Team USA carries the WTC flag to the Olympics

Rarely does a flag presentation at the Olympic Games happen to a quiet crowd. But as eight members of Team USA, flanked by members of the NYPD and New York Fire Department, marched the flag of the host country into the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, you could hear a pin drop.

The flag they carried was found in the rubble of ground zero and had flown atop the World Trade Center in New York when the buildings were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. It was under the debris for three days before being found and given to the National Guard.

2. Rulon Gardner defeats the undefeated

For a decade, Aleksandr Karelin was the world’s dominant super heavyweight wrestler. By the time the 2000 Olympics rolled around, Karelin (aka The Russian Bear, aka Aleksandr the Great) hadn’t been defeated in a match since Russia was still called the Soviet Union – even then, that was his only loss. Then, he faced off with a dairy farmer from Wyoming.

In six years, Karelin hadn’t even given up a single point to an opponent. His American opponent, Rulon Gardner, hadn’t placed higher than fifth in the world up until this point and even lost to Karelin, 5-0, before. But Karelin lost his grip — and a point — to Gardner in the second period.

3.  Mary Lou Retton wins a gymnastic first

A little girl from West Virginia dealt a stunning blow to the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. Before Retton, Team USA was never able to wrest Olympic Gold from Eastern Europe in the Individual, All-Around Gymnastics event. She came into the event trailing Romania’s Ecaterina Szabo.

In Retton’s own words, she believes her performance showed that American-born and trained athletes can do anything – no matter what the odds are.

4. 1999 Women’s World Cup Final

The 1999 Women’s World Cup came down to a shootout tie-breaker against the Chinese. With the score tied 0-0 in extra time, the US team would end up winning based on penalties. It wasn’t so much the game play that mattered, it was the draw. With 90,000 spectators, it was the largest turnout for a women’s sporting event ever.

The lasting image of the US win would be Brandi Chastain’s post-penalty kick celebration of the victory, where she fell to her knees and took off her jersey, revealing the “sports bra seen ’round the world.” The image became one of Sport Illustrated most iconic covers ever.

5. Joe Louis knocks out a Nazi

In 1938, Hitler was still touting the Germans as a “master race,” as German athletes competed the world over for top honors. On June 22, Max Schmeling met American champion, the “Brown Bomber” Joe Louis. The first time the two met in 1936, Schmeling took advantage of Louis’ dropping his left hand after a jab and gave Louis his first loss in the 12th round of that fight. That would not happen again.

With the world listening via radio and more than 70,000 watching in Yankee Stadium, Louis unloaded on Schmeling, knocking him down three times in two minutes. Schmeling was only able to throw two punches in the whole one-round match.

6. The Champ lights the Olympic Torch

Lighting the Olympic Flame at the end of the torch relay is an honor reserved for a legendary Olympic athlete from the host country. Does it get more legendary than “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali? Except in 1996, the one who would light the flame itself was a close-kept secret. Even swimmer Janet Evans, who was handing the torch off, didn’t know to whom she was handing it.

Ali was stricken with Parkinson’s Disease and had long since retired by this point. When Ali emerged to take the Olympic Torch and light the flame, the sound in Atlanta was less a roar of applause and more of the collective gasp of elated surprise as the once-great boxer, shaking, lit the torch.

7. Rick Monday saves the flag

Remember MLB outfielder Rick Monday? He might be before most of our readers’ time, but Monday was with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 1981 World Series-winning team. Before that, he was the top prospect in the 1965 MLB draft. Somewhere in between, he saved Old Glory from public humiliation.

In 1976, Monday was with the Chicago Cubs, visiting the Dodgers. With Monday in center field during the fourth inning, two protestors jumped the outfield fence and tried to burn a flag on live TV. Monday, seeing what was about to transpire, ran over and snatched the lighter-fluid-soaked flag. The protestors were arrested and Monday was able to keep the flag.

Ever since that day, Monday used the actual flag to raise money for military families.

8. The President’s Post-9/11 opening pitch 

It’s hard to imagine the Leader of the Free World facing a new Global War on Terrorism being psyched out by throwing the first pitch in Yankee Stadium. But in his own words, he absolutely was. Thousands of New Yorkers came to the stadium to watch the President throw the pitch to open game 3 of the 2001 World Series. It was also just weeks after 9/11.

He didn’t want Americans to think the President was incapable of finding the plate. But as he practiced, Yankee Derek Jeter told him that he needed to both throw from the mound (not in front as originally planned) and not bounce it. “They’ll boo you,” he told the President.

Bush, shaken but loose, walked onto the field and threw a strike to an eruption of applause.

9. ‘The Buckeye Bullet’ burns Hitler

Before he ever arrived in Berlin for the 1936 Olympic Games, Jesse Owens had already set three world records and tied another. At Ohio State, he won eight individual NCAA championships, which was a record in its own right. When he arrived in Berlin, he knew Nazi Germany was using the games as a showcase for its racial policies, but competed anyway.

Owens went on to win four gold medals in 1936, an unrivaled achievement until some 50 years later when Carl Lewis did the same in 1984. When Owens won gold in the long jump, the Olympic Committee told Hitler he had to greet all the winners or none at all. Hitler opted for none. As Owens won other events, Hitler would leave early. Nazi minister Albert Speer would later write that Hitler “was highly annoyed by the series of triumphs by the marvelous colored American runner, Jesse Owens.”

10. The Miracle On Ice

Would you bet money on a bunch of college amateurs taking on the world’s greatest hockey team in a competition for Olympic Gold? Not many would – and not many did, as it turns out. That was the situation Team USA faced in the 1980 Winter Olympics. It was a tough time for the United States, with hostages in Iran, an energy crisis, and runaway inflation, it looked like the American Dream was coming to an end.

But no words echoed through the ages like Al Michaels’ “Do you believe in miracles!” as Team USA topped the Soviet Union 4-3 in one of the biggest upsets in sports history.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Blind Army vet inspires as Summer Sports ambassador

“It was a long walk into darkness … “

That’s how Chuck Miller describes his maddening descent into blindness — something he refused to accept as his world slipped away, little by little.

The Army veteran, who gets care at the Gainesville VA Medical Center, is the first blind veteran sailor certified by the American Sailing Association. He’s also an ambassador at the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic, where he connects with others to help them adjust to different disabilities.

The clinic brings blind, amputee and paralyzed veterans, and those living with post-traumatic stress, to San Diego, Calif., Sept. 15 to 20, for adaptive surfing, sailing, cycling and kayaking.


“One of the most difficult things about being disabled is acceptance. That to me is one of the biggest struggles veterans have…”

Miller stops and cries for a moment.

“You know, something significant changes in their lives and they try to ignore it. That’s what I did. I was a proud soldier. Being a soldier was everything to me.”

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Chuck Miller, a totally blind Army Veteran, has been an ambassador at the Summer Sports Clinic the last three years.

Going blind

Miller, a single dad with full custody of his son, was first diagnosed with spots on his retina in 1984.

“They just said, ‘You have something wrong with your eyes. They weren’t sure,” he said.

In 1990, his doctor diagnosed him with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a rare, genetic disorder that breaks down cells and creates scar tissue on the retinas.

“The retinas become so damaged, they’re basically dead,” Miller said. “The only problem I was having was night vision problems and some depth perception. It was difficult to accept. It went on for another 15 years and wasn’t at the point I couldn’t function. I was still driving, still doing normal work. It didn’t register at the time. I just thought, ‘Well, I got an eye problem.'”

By 2005, a doctor leveled with him. “You need to quit driving. You’re going to kill somebody if you don’t.”

“I still didn’t listen until I T-boned somebody in my car,” Miller said.

By 2009, he was blind, only seeing light but nothing else.

“I remember when I realized I was going blind, how terrified I was,” he said. “Just like every veteran, I went through a dark period. I drank, I did drugs, I wanted to kill myself. Thought I’m not worthy as a father, which is one of the most important things in my life. I literally pushed every single person away from me. I lost every friend I had as a sighted person.”

Fighting rehabilitation

Miller’s turning point came when he went to the Blind Rehabilitation Center at the Birmingham VA Medical Center.

“Don’t leave,” he told his friend who drove him there. “I’m not staying. I’m going back home. It’s not for me.”

His friend left anyway.

“That’s where you have to learn to be that disability,” he said. “You have to face it. That’s when you have to say, ‘Damn, I’m blind,’ or, “Damn, I’m this,’ or whatever,” Miller said.

He fought against instructors and struggled to learn skills needed to live in his sightless world. Instructors paired him with a roommate who was blinded at 18 in Vietnam, in hopes he could learn to accept it.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Chuck Miller chats with James Byrne, the deputy secretary of VA, while sailing with him at the Summer Sports Clinic.

“I was pretty angry,” Miller said. “The first couple of days, he’d lay in his bed, and he’d pray out loud to God, thanking him for his day, thanking God for being blind, and I’m thinking, ‘What the hell is wrong with you? How could you be so thankful for being disabled?'”

“Man, this is a gift, you just don’t know it yet,” his roommate said. “I get to see things different. I get to see how people are on the inside.”

Miller remembers one day in class, trying in frustration to put together a leather belt kit. The next day, his instructor gave him glasses that blocked out light.

“And I put that thing together in less than an hour,” he said. “I started to see through my fingers.”

Miller gave in, and his world without sight came into focus.

“They start taking me places. Up and down stairs, escalators, crossing four-lane roads. Before that, I wouldn’t go out without holding onto anybody. I learned braille. Found out I’m a natural. I’m sick, I actually took algebra in braille.”

Summer Sports Clinic

He put on a brave face at his first Summer Sports Clinic in 2015.

“I was talking all kinds of junk, but inside I was afraid,” he said. “It’s easy to picture doing this stuff in your mind, but doing it is scary. My first day was surfing, and I was pretty scared to go out there. I don’t know where the beach is at, I can’t see the water. At the end of the day, I was the last one out. I start thinking, ‘This is pretty freaking cool!’

“I had never sailed before in my life. You’re overwhelmed in that first year because there’s so much to take in, but from there I did a five-day sailing clinic in St. Petersburg, Florida, and they put me on a boat with a paraplegic in a wheelchair and a coach. And I’m thinking, ‘We’re screwed.’ But it’s all about exposure.”

Miller fell in love with sailing so much he got his American Sailing Certification with a score of 95 out of 100. He sails with a sighted coach, but does the work himself — untying ropes, hoisting the mast, trimming the sail to catch the wind, and steering.

“When I’m on the water,” he said, “I feel the wind blowing, the birds, the sounds of the ocean, the sun on my face. I enjoy it in a way that a sighted person can’t experience.”

Cory Kapes, who runs Warrior Sail at the clinic, said Miller sets the example. Kapes even let him steer the boat as he came into shore one day, where other boats were only 20 feet away.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Chuck Miller talks to a class of new sailing participants at this year’s Summer Sports Clinic.

“If these people knew I was blind, they’d have a heart attack,” Miller said.

“Just keep smiling and waving,” Kapes said with a laugh.

“It just shows you the impact this clinic can have,” Kapes said. “He never sailed a boat before he came here. He brought it home. That’s what we want other vets to do — bring it home, go kayaking, be committed, make it part of your active lifestyle.”

Ambassador

For the last three years as an ambassador, Miller traveled from Florida to San Diego by himself. When needed, he has a special pair of glasses with a built-in camera that connects him to a live agent to help him navigate. But more often than not, he uses his blind guiding cane.

Most veterans find Miller by his bright pink, volunteer T-shirt, cutting up and telling jokes.

“Hey nice to see you! Well, not really, but you get the idea … ” he tells one veteran.

“I’m Blind Chuck! Would it help if I take off my glasses?” he tells another. “Look, I take off my glasses, I don’t look blind. I put the glasses on, blind! I can look at you, but you know I can’t see you, right?”

He took the deputy secretary of Veterans Affairs on the water, making jokes and cutting up about everyone’s military branch while sailing.

Fellow veteran Michelle Marie Smith, who gets her care at the Sacramento VA, said listening to Miller at the sailing class was a highlight.

“Oh yeah,” she said. “It definitely puts everything in perspective. If I had any doubt, I don’t after listening to him.”

Miller said that’s what it’s all about.

“What I’ve learned from this clinic here – and this is important for veterans to understand – not only can you do things as a disabled person, get to know these volunteers, therapists and team leaders. The only thing they care about is teaching you how to do these sports. They want you to succeed and you just have to trust them.”

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Here’s the best part of using a personal trainer

Tony Schy is a 48-year-old dad of a college-bound son and a daughter who is about to start sophomore year of high school. About a year and a half ago, Tony, who works as an executive coach, decided to go to the gym and get a personal trainer. He had never worked out with much consistency and wanted to make a different effort. What happened next changed his life. Here, Tony talks about the mental benefits of being able to have someone make all your fitness decisions for you, and why working out has helped him bond with his kids in new ways.

I’ve been working out with a personal trainer since the beginning of 2018. Part of the reason I started to work out was that I wasn’t the kind of person that exercised on any regular basis, so it was a good way to get started. There’s a very big difference between doing an exercise correctly and incorrectly. It’s the difference between getting hurt and not getting hurt. So being with a personal trainer helped me learn correct form and build a little bit of confidence.


I would say that I’m the typical middle-aged dad where you just slowly gain a little bit of weight every year. Most people don’t wake up and say “I’m 70 pounds overweight! How did that happen?” But you know, you gain one to two pounds a year over a decade, and all the sudden you’re overweight pretty fast. My weight just kept creeping up and creeping up and basically, I had just had enough. And it was the right timing. My wife went back to the gym. So I said, I have to do something here.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

The first six weeks, I’d go to the gym, my heart rate would get up, and I’d leave the gym after the workout I’d have to go horizontal for a few minutes when I got home. My heart rate would still be really high by the time I got home 20 minutes later.

But once I got past that, I really started to enjoy it. So I’d say it was about six weeks before that started to subside a little bit — and that’s when I could tell I was starting to feel better overall, and I began to actually enjoy my exercise and crave it a little bit, especially after taking a few days off at the gym.

Then something started to dawn on me. About six months into it, I realized that the trainer would ask me if I wanted to do this workout or that workout, and I started to realize that I didn’t care what workout I did. I just want to come in there and have him tell me what to do.

I almost always work out in the late afternoon or early evening. As an executive coach, at that point, I’ve had a full day of coaching people and making decisions. I’m mentally spent, so to speak. So to me, it’s a huge benefit for me just to walk into the gym and not be the one running the show, like I typically do with my work. So, I can just come in and do what I’m told. I lift heavy things.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

(Photo by Arthur Edelman)

I do the reps my personal trainer tells me to do; I do the type of exercise my personal trainer tells me to do. I do not question it. I’ve come up with this theory that this appeals to people like me that are accustomed to making lots of decisions during the day. I can effectively get ‘decision fatigue.’ I don’t know if there’s any science behind this, but I know that there are a certain number of decisions that you can make in a day.

Once you use them all up, you don’t have any more left. Anyway, that’s my theory, and that’s why I love going to a personal trainer.

Beyond the mental benefits, obviously there have been physical changes as well. This time last year, I decided that I would change the way I eat. When I did that, the weight came off. Since then, I’ve lost 80 pounds. Now, I’m down to the size that I was when I was a junior in high school, and I was probably in better shape now than I was then. I’ve completely turned my life around from a physical point of view.

That really comes out in just doing the simple things. My kids like to do high ropes courses and zip lines. Those things are no problem anymore. I can keep up with them, and sometimes I’m faster than them! It’s broadened the level of things I feel comfortable doing, whether it’s rock climbing or hiking with my kids. It’s broadened the range of things that I do. That makes me feel really good.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

USAA has a special lounge at every Super Bowl for the military

The Super Bowl is known for a lot of things, but giving out free access isn’t one of them. For military members, veterans, and their families, the experience might be a little different. USAA, as a financial institution, isn’t just a major partner of the NFL — they’re integral to the league’s Salute to Service every November, and USAA is determined to give its members a chance to take part.


For those who have never been to the NFL’s biggest game, part of the experience is literally The NFL Experience. For days prior to Super Bowl Sunday, the league puts on a huge, open forum featuring player appearances, giveaways, games, food, and fun, along with a chance to kick a field goal, throw a touchdown pass, run the 40-meter dash (or the entire combine), and even play as an actual player through virtual reality.

Even if you don’t have tickets to the Big Game, the NFL experience is only , half that for USAA members. Best of all, military service members get a little something extra from their experience – all for free.

USAA has its own little corner of the NFL Experience called the Salute to Service Lounge, and it’s open to anyone with a Department of Defense or Veterans Affairs identification card. In this special room, attendees can sit, relax, enjoy free snacks and drinks.

Oh, and they get to listen to current and former NFL players talk about their time on the gridiron, answer any and all questions from their military fans, and even pose for photos, sign autographs, and shake hands — all at no cost. They all just want to do the most for the U.S. Military and its NFL fans, and they show it all year long, not just during Salute to Service Month.

Almost all the players who came to visit USAA’s Salute to Service Lounge also teamed up with USAA and other partners to donate tickets to the big game to a service member or their family.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

NFL legend Roger Staubach (left) chats with WATM’s own August Dannehl

The 2019 Salute to Service Lounge saw NFL legend and Naval Academy graduate Roger Staubach come by and spend time with fans. Current Falcons Coach Dan Quinn and Atlanta Falcons Guard Ben Garland stopped by the lounge to talk about highlighting the military community and what it’s like to host a Super Bowl without being part of it.

Quinn and USAA teamed up to get tickets to the big game for the family of Marine Corps Pvt. 1st Class Zachary R. Boland, who died in 2016 during training at Parris Island. Garland, a former player for the Air Force Falcons, was this year’s Salute to Service Winner.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Colorado Air National Guardsman and Atlanta Falcons Guard, Ben Garland.

Also visiting the USAA Salute to Service lounge this year (who also visited USAA’s Super Bowl LII Salute to Service Lounge in Minneapolis in 2018) was the Arizona Cardinals’ future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald. This year, Fitzgerald honored fellow Cardinal Pat Tillman during the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” Campaign, which benefited the Tillman Foundation. He has a very close connection to the military, as he comes from a military family and wanted something to reflect his family’s service as well as Tillman’s.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Kirk Cousins answers some fans’ questions at the USAA Salute to Service Lounge

Other visitors to the lounge were Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum, and former Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas.

These NFL players and the many, many others like them are regular faces at USAA’s annual Super Bowl Salute to Service Lounge. They spend all season honoring military members past and present but make it a big point to show their military fans how much they’re appreciated.

MIGHTY MOVIES

Why Rob Riggle is the best part of any NFL show

There’s no better way to do sports analysis than by covering the league like a fan. And if that’s actually true, then there’s no better NFL analyst than comedian and Marine Corps veteran Rob Riggle.


Every week, Riggle does a sketch comedy segment as part of Fox Sports’ NFL Sunday, where he competes with Fox Sports’ Curt Menefee, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Michael Strahan, Jimmy Johnson, and Jay Glazer in picking their favorite teams to win that week. Unlike his Fox Sports colleagues, Riggle isn’t a sportcaster, former professional player, coach, or insider.

He’s a fan – but offers a lot more than sports knowledge.

He doesn’t hide his bias

Like any true NFL fan, Riggle remains fiercely loyal to his team. You won’t ever catch him in a jersey that doesn’t belong to a Kansas City Chiefs player. He joins Brad Pitt, David Koechner, Paul Rudd, and Jason Sudeikis in KC fandom and never picks against them.

He doesn’t pull punches on the NFL

The video above isn’t one of Riggle’s Picks, but rather from when he was chosen to open the 2018 NFL Honors Ceremony before Super Bowl LII. He used it as an opportunity to roast a room full of millionaires, billionaires, team owners, players, entire teams, host cities, and even fans.

“Hey, 31 arrests this offseason… things are improving!”

Riggle knows America

When you watch Riggle every Sunday in the fall, it becomes obvious that Riggle doesn’t just know football, NFL teams, and their fans, Rob Riggle knows America. Accents, food, pop culture, and news events are all part of each Riggle’s Picks segment. He even merges pop music and musical theater with sports references.

He makes fun of bandwagon fans

Ever meet a Seahawks fan outside of Washington state before 2005? No? Me neither. It’s not hard to figure out who jumped on a bandwagon when a team started to get good. Riggle shows what we all already know about every team’s fan base — and a city’s sports culture.

He’s not afraid of making fun of anything

Old TV, new TV, networks, sports, teams, fans, rivalries, personalities, players, history, politics, and Jay Glazer – they’re all targets for Rob Riggle.

Catch Riggle’s Picks every week in the fall on Fox NFL Sunday, usually about twenty minutes before the NFL games air.

MIGHTY SPORTS

New study shows frightening connection between weight gain and brain health

It is pretty easy to gain weight as you grow older. Metabolisms slow, hormones shift, and people become generally less physically active more sedentary as they age. But inevitability doesn’t mean getting fatter doesn’t come with serious risks. Besides the increased likelihood of heart disease (the number one killer of men and women in America) gaining weight can do some serious damage to another arguably more essential organ — your brain. As bodies get bigger, a new study finds, brains actually shrink.


The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Cortical thinning, the phenomenon named in the study, refers to atrophy of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain where almost all information processing occurs. The thinner the cortex, the greater the risk of Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases. Scientists have understood that there is a link between healthy body weight and optimal brain health, but few studies have looked at the direct role weight might play. Based on what is already known about the cerebral cortex, study author and neurologist Dr. Tatjana Rundek believed that obesity could be connected to cortical thinning and overall brain atrophy.

Also read: Gain (or regain) warrior status in just 8 weeks with this fitness plan

To test this, Rundek and her team recruited 1,289 people to compare their bodies and brains over time. At the start of the study, their BMI and waist circumference were measured and six years later, the participants’ brains were scanned using an MRI, in order to measure the thickness of the cortex and brain volume. Out of everyone, 571 people had BMIs in the 25 to 30 range, which is considered overweight, and 371 people were considered obese with BMIs 30 and higher. The higher the BMI, the thinner the cortex, results revealed. Even after Rundek controlled for variables that could change the cortex such as high blood pressure, alcohol use and smoking, every unit increase in BMI was linked with a 0.098 millimeter thinner cortex for overweight individuals and a 0.207 mm thinner cortex for obese ones.

“These associations were especially strong in those who were younger than 65, which adds weight to the theory that having poor health indicators in mid-life may increase the risk for brain aging and problems with memory and thinking skills in later life,” she warned. Having a larger waist was similarly associated with a thinner cortex, strengthening the link. To put it in perspective, in normal aging adults the overall thinning rate of the cortical mantle is between 0.01 and 0.10 mm per decade, but these findings indicate that being overweight or obese might speed up this process by another 10 years at least.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

It is worth noting that the study demonstrates a correlation between weight and cortical thinning, but scientists are not at the point where they can confidently say putting on pounds causes brain thinning directly, or Alzheimer’s for that matter. The study also focused primarily on older participants with an average age of 64, but the data does give the younger man another reason to start and maintain healthy habits early on. It’s not just about looking good, it’s about having a big beautiful brain too.

“These results are exciting because they raise the possibility that by losing weight, people may be able to stave off aging of their brains and potentially the memory and thinking problems that can come along with brain aging,” Rundek said. “However, with the rising number of people globally who are overweight or obese and the difficulty many experiences with losing weight, obviously this is a concern for public health in the future as these people age.”

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

The NFL is learning how to fight as a unit from Special Forces vets

Veterans and military personnel are still understandably frustrated with NFL players kneeling during the national anthem — but that doesn’t mean the league is at odds with the military-veteran community. If the response from our community has taught anything to NFL franchises, it’s that teams have a lot to learn about how veterans and military units come together and operate as a team.


NFL players, for the most part, spend their whole lives training and preparing for the chance to play on Sundays in the fall. But throughout the course of their careers, they may end up playing for a slew of different teams with different objects, different methods, and different goals. No matter which city you’re representing, there’s a lot about football plays that can be related to small-unit tactics on the battlefield. The most important parts of both are to ensure each member of the team follows the plan, follows their orders, and covers their position. Your squad mates are depending on each man to do their part.

So, it makes sense to bring in some of the U.S. military’s finest veterans to show these players how individuals in military units come together to form a cohesive fighting force when the stakes are life and death. That’s where Mission6Zero comes in.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Jason Van Camp served in the U.S. Army’s Special Forces.

(Mission6Zero)

“How can you fight for the guy next to you if you don’t even know who he is?”

Jason Van Camp is the Founder and Chairman of Mission6Zero. He’s also a former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier who graduated from West Point and played football for the Army’s Black Knights. He founded Mission6Zero to help teams in professional sports, the corporate world, and law enforcement optimize their performance through knowledge — knowledge of themselves, their organization, and their surroundings.

While Mission6Zero isn’t limited to the NFL, the NFL needs Mission6Zero now more than ever — and the Army football player is uniquely situated to address their issues. He put together his own expert team, one that included fellow SF veteran and Seattle Seahawks longsnapper, Nate Boyer.

“When things get really bad, the warfighter is thinking only of his team.”

Van Camp’s organization brings Special Forces veterans, Medal of Honor recipients, wounded warriors, drill instructors, and other exceptional veterans (along with human performance psychologists and behavioral experts) to the fore when dealing with athletic franchises. In their most recent case study, they found it wasn’t just what team members communicated to one another that was important, it was how they communicated that mattered.

Mission6Zero does more than tell war stories and lecture teams on how to be more like a unit. The science behind how members of a unit bond in combat is the same as how members bond on a team. The more you learn about someone, the closer you get to that person. When you start to know everyone on that level, the team becomes the most important part of life.

You will never want to let the team down, but, just as importantly, you know they will never let you down.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Green Beret and Seattle Seahawks player Nate Boyer.

(Mission6Zero)

“The warfighter’s biggest fear is to let down the teammate to his left or right. “

It may seem obvious to a military veteran, but to many athletes and professional sports teams, it’s not so obvious. Through the course of Mission6Zero’s work in the NFL, the organization found instances of teammates who had never spoken to one another – even after the season began.

When Mission6Zero finds that the best predictor of team productivity is how teams communicate outside of the workplace and there are teammates who never talk at all, it’s easy to identify potential problems in an organization. Those “Mandatory Fun” sessions we weren’t so keen on attending while we were in the military were actually one of the most useful training opportunities we could ever have attended.

That’s the science of teambuilding.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Packers’ Aaron Rodgers donates his golf tournament winnings to Wounded Warriors

As all you golf fans know, this weekend was the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. It is one of golf’s more fun events (outside of the Happy Gilmore-like atmosphere at Waste Management Open).

The Pro-Am is a televised event that pairs world-class golfers with various celebrities who showcase their golf skills, ham it up for the crowds, or unintentionally give us the best laughs.


The Pro-Am, a highly sought after ticket, is a charity event. Golfers and celebrities use their talents (or try to attempt to) to raise money for various causes.

Cue Green Bay Packer All-Pro (and safe driver) Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers, a Super Bowl Champion and two time MVP, is known for his amazing throws, calm demeanor in the pocket, and endorsement commercials.

But he is also a strong supporter of the military, especially veterans.

At the Pro-Am, Rodgers participated in a Hole-in-One challenge where various celebrities tried to get a hole-in-one or as close to the pin as possible.

Rodgers finished second behind country star Jake Owen but ahead of the likes of Peyton Manning, Steve Young, Eli Manning, Tony Romo, and Larry Fitzgerald. His performance earned him ,000, and Rodgers picked the Wounded Warrior Project as the charity for his donation.

Here you can see him in action—his qualifying shot.

Aaron’s support for the military extends beyond this single act.

Last year, he wrote an article for the Players Tribune in which he explained his devotion to our country’s service members and what they mean to him. He also does amazing things like this event with Gold Star children.

Rodgers’ military ties start with his family. His grandfather was a WWII pilot that was a POW. Rodgers recounts his college days playing for Cal and visiting a military hospital in San Diego in the lead up to the Holiday Bowl.

“I obviously admired them for their courage and sacrifice. But what really struck me was that despite their injuries, some of them couldn’t wait to get back to active duty. They were pleading with their doctors to help them so they could rejoin their units and continue fighting.”

Rodgers talks about his interactions with wounded vets, the effect their fighting spirit has on him, and how important it is to care for them.

To me, when it comes to taking care of our veterans and helping them not just assimilate back into society, but to actually thrive, I don’t think there’s any limit to what we can and should do.

Keep up the good work A-A-Ron!

MIGHTY SPORTS

How food can make or break Army Combat Fitness Test scores

In addition to physical exercise, proper nutrition plays a major role in overall health, fitness, and training for the Army Combat Fitness Test, says Maj. Brenda Bustillos, the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command dietitian.

“It’s important for soldiers to recognize the impact proper nutrition has on them,” said Maj. Bustillos. “From how they get up and feel in the morning, how they recover from an exercise, how they utilize energy, and whether or not they have energy at the end of the day — proper nutrition is powerful, and stretches far beyond what we were taught as kids.”

Dietary decisions affect every soldier’s individual physical performance differently, too, she said, and has the power to impact careers “whether that be good or bad.”


Bustillos, a clinician who’s seen patients for the last 15 years of her career, believes the ground rules for healthy eating are only that — ground rules. “Every patient I’ve met with is different, and their needs are all different, too.”

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Soldiers weave through an obstacle course.

(U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Travis Zielinski)

“Nutrition and dietary patterns are not one size fits all,” she said. “A registered dietitian understands this, and understands the biomechanics of each individual, along with the unique metabolic concerns they may have.”

She added, “How someone eats can be what makes or breaks them during big events, such as the ACFT. That’s why it’s important for soldiers to take advantage of resources available to them, and meet with a dietitian about what works for them while training for the test.”

Army combat fitness test

The ACFT is a six-event, age- and gender-neutral, fitness assessment set to replace the Army’s current physical fitness test by October 2020. It’s the largest physical training overhaul in nearly four decades, and is currently in its second phase of implementation, with every soldier slated to take the test as a diagnostic at least once this year.

The test is designed to link soldiers’ physical fitness with their combat readiness. Each event is taken immediately following the next, and aims to be an endurance-based, cardio-intensive assessment of overall physical fitness.

“The ACFT will require soldiers to properly fuel their bodies to be fully ready to perform,” she said. “The six events require many different muscle movements, with both aerobic and anaerobic capacities, making the fueling piece of fitness incredibly important — as important as physically training.”

Nutrition has often been attributed as “fuel for the body,” she said. For example, proteins repair you, and give the body the building blocks it needs for everyday activities, carbohydrates give the body energy, vitamins strengthens the bones, minerals help regulate the body’s processes, and water is essential for being alive.

But, nutrition also plays a role “in terms of preparation and recovery,” she said. It doesn’t matter if someone is training for a marathon or the ACFT, how they eat, or what they drink makes a world of difference.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

U.S. Army soldiers participate in a 2.35-mile run.

(U.S. Army photo by Senior Airman Rylan Albright)

For example, if a soldier wakes up early on an empty stomach when scheduled to take the ACFT, that soldier will lack the glucose needed for a good performance. This can make the short-term decisions as critical as the lifestyle choices made in the months prior to testing, she said.

“Consider an individual like an automobile,” Bustillos said. “If an automobile starts running out of gas, it will begin running on fumes, and then be completely empty. That’s how an individual [regardless of training leading up to the test] will perform, especially if they don’t properly fuel their body before an ACFT.”

Bustillos urges soldiers to always “train to fight,” meaning all their nutritional decisions, at all times, should holistically enhance their physical fitness, mental alertness, and overall health.

“If a soldier only eats right the night before, or morning of an ACFT — but not during the months of training leading up to it, they won’t do as well on the fitness test [regardless of physical activity],” she said.

The best course of action, according to Bustillos, is eating right “day in and day out” while training. “Muscles are hungry, and they need fuel, so if you implement a healthy dietary lifestyle while training, then your body performs much better while performing.”

Soldiers should consume a variety of healthy nutrients in their diet, she said. For example, carbohydrates, fats, dietary fiber, minerals, proteins, vitamins, and water should be taken in.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

(U.S. Army photo by Jorge Gomez)

When a soldier doesn’t eat properly in both short- and long-term capacities, muscles will break down because the body is continually searching for the fuel it needs to perform, she said.

“The night before an ACFT, a soldier should take in some proteins and carbohydrates,” she said, adding that carbohydrates are the No. 1 source of fuel for the brain and body.

Examples include moderately-sized, protein and carbohydrate-rich meals, such as a grilled chicken breast and brown rice, followed by a light breakfast the next morning, ideally two hours prior to taking the ACFT, she said. However, the possibilities for what foods to eat are seemingly endless, as long as they fall in the food healthy groups.

“I understand not everyone wants to wake up two hours before a performance test just to eat,” she said. “So, a light snack in the morning is also good. It can be a performance bar, a whole-grain English muffin, a banana, or just half of a muffin with smear of peanut butter — something to not disrupt the stomach while providing a fuel source for the body.”

With the ACFT around the corner, or if you have questions on how nutrition can enhance your lifestyle based on body type, Bustillos recommends you seek answers from a registered dietitian nearby.

“It’s important to remember there’s no such thing as bad foods, just bad dietary patterns,” she said. “As long as we’re eating well, taking good care of our bodies, and putting good things in it — it’s okay to have the scoop of ice cream, or sharing a tub of buttered popcorn with friends at the movies, those are certainly things that make life more enjoyable.”

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

How to prepare for the ‘Murph’ fitness challenge

The Memorial Day Murph, a workout created in honor of Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL awarded the Medal of Honor for Operation Redwings in Afghanistan 2005 requires an intermediate to advanced level of fitness to complete.

The challenge is popular with many tactical athletes, CrossFit, and other exercise groups and can be found at The Murph Challenge.

Here is a way to help prepare for the high repetitions of pullups (100), pushups (200), and squats (300). Over the next several weeks, progress throughout the pyramid below a few days a week and see if you score better each week, by moving up the pyramid. See below:


Warmup

You should warm up well with this workout, in fact, the warmup/run pyramid works well to not only prepare you for higher rep sets but will help you slowly accumulate repetitions for the grand 100,200,300 grand totals.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Derek Seifert, 633rd Air Base Wing photojournalist, performs a pull-up during a Memorial Day Murph and Pararescue Workout event

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Areca T. Bell)

Pushups / Squat Pyramid: Run 100m, 1 pushup/squats, Run 100m – 2 pushup/squats run 100m – 3/3…up to 10/10. This warmup will yield 55 squats and 55 pushups to add to the Murph Workout (100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats) below:

This Half Pyramid has you starting at 1 and building up to level 10 in ten sets.

PT HALF Pyramid 1-10 (*1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10)

  • pullups x 1 (55 reps)
  • Pushups x 2 (110 reps) (*2,4,6,8,10,12,14,16,18,20)
  • Squats x 3 (165 reps) (*3,6,9,12,15,18,21,24,27,30)
  • Run 400m

For clarity, the sets of the PT Pyramid breaks down like this:

  • Set 1: Pullup 1, Pushups 2, Squats 3, run 400m
  • Set 2: Pull-ups 2, Pushups 4, Squats 6, run 400m
  • Set 3: Pull-ups 3, Pushups 6, Squats 9, run 400m…Keep going up the pyramid until you fail, then resort in reverse order after failing at two exercises.

Reverse PT Pyramid with Pull-ups and Squats with cardio of choice each set to recover from each set

9-1. (*9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1)

  • Pull-ups x 1 – total for day equals 100 pull-ups
  • Squats x 3 – total for day equals 300 squats
The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jared Martin, 633rd Security Forces Squadron police services NCO in charge, performs a push-up during a Memorial Day Murph and Pararescue Workout event.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Areca T. Bell)

For more information on the PT Pyramid, see the full article, The PT Pyramid is what I call a Foundation Workout. It helps the user build a solid foundation of calisthenics and increases volume so you will improve your previous limits. Once you get to level 10 and back down to 1 again you will have done 100 pullups, 200 pushups, and 300 squats. You do this each set by doubling each pull-up set for pushups, and tripling each pull-up set for squats.

You have 35 pushups to complete the FULL Murph 100,200,300 rep challenge and at the same time, work on your goal pace running intervals for future timed run events.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

U.S. service members and their families participate in a 1-mile run during the Memorial Day Murph and Pararecue Workout event.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Areca T. Bell)

YES, this is 10 sets of 1/4 mile runs at goal mile pace for timed runs. Arrange as needed (use a treadmill or track if pull-up bar nearby)

Finish the workout with a Mini Mobility Cooldown that has some form of non-impact/walking, stretching, and foam rolling of muscles that will be sore – thighs, hamstrings, chest, upper back/lats, and arms.

Repeat 2 times

  • Non-Impact cardio 5 min
  • Foam roll / Stretch 5 min

Good luck with preparing for this journey and a worthy reminder of our fallen heroes.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Women’s Volleyball — San Diego State at Air Force (9/23/18 – 3:00 PM EST)

Following an impressive 10-win non-conference season, the Air Force volleyball team turns to the Mountain West portion of the calendar this weekend, when it hosts San Diego State on Sunday, Sept. 23. The Falcons, who collected their most non-conference victories in 15 years over the last four weeks, will host the Aztecs at 1:00 p.m., inside Cadet East Gym.


San Diego State, which went 1-11 during non-conference action, will open the Mountain West season on Friday night, as it hosts Fresno State at Peterson Gym before traveling to the Academy. Deja Harris currently leads the Aztecs in kills (3.32 kps) and blocks (1.32 bps), while Ashlynn Dunbar also averages at least three kills per set (3.18) and is ranked second on the team in digs (2.36 dps). The Aztecs faced one common opponent with Air Force during the non-conference slate, dropping a 3-2 decision to CSU Bakersfield in the season opener.

Watch the game here LIVE on Sunday, September 23rd at 3:00PM EST.

MIGHTY SPORTS

How Gary Steele changed West Point football forever

Tight End Gary Steele became the first Black player for the United State Military Academy’s Black Knights football team in 1966 and went on to a 23-year Army career after graduation.

His daughter Sage Steele has become a successful sportscaster at ESPN and currently anchors the 6 p.m. ET edition of the network’s flagship show “SportsCenter.”

Sage is working with USAA for the Army-Navy House sweepstakes to let fans of each team celebrate their fandom since they can’t attend this year’s game in person.

Visit www.ArmyNavyHouse.com and upload a photo that shows off your fandom. You’ll be entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win a fully paid trip to the 2021 Army-Navy Game in New York City with airfare, hotels and game tickets included. There’s one winner from the Army side and one from the Navy fan base. There will also be 2,000 souvenir commemorative tickets awarded to entrants.

Gary Steele’s first season in an Army football uniform in 1966 was also President Donald Trump’s first year as a student at the Wharton School of Business and President-elect Joe Biden’s second year of law school at Syracuse.

Navy’s first Black football player was Calvin Huey, who suited up two years earlier in 1964. It’s sometimes easy to forget how much America has changed over the past few decades and how our leaders were adults at a time of so much resistance and turmoil.

Huey and Steele’s playing careers coincided with the most turbulent years of the civil rights movement and the mere fact of their presence on the field was a force for change in a divided country.

Steele recognized the impact when she saw pictures of her father’s playing career. “When you look at that black and white team photo from 1966 and it’s pretty easy to spot my dad, right in the middle of this sea of his white teammates, and it’s just crazy. That’s just not what football teams at any level look like anymore.”

Sage says her dad always downplayed the importance of his role.”My dad didn’t ever really talk about it. Because to him, it didn’t matter. And his answer always was, ‘Well, somebody has to be first. It just turned out that it was me.’ All he ever wanted to do was play football and specifically play at the United States Military Academy. He was heavily recruited by Joe Paterno at Penn State, which was obviously an incredible program at the time. He chose to go to the right program for him and represent the Steele family and represent West Point and then represent his country.”

Gary Steele graduated from West Point in 1970, married in 1971 and Sage was born at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas in 1972. Steele retired a full colonel in 1993 but, before then, the family lived the peripatetic military life. By the time she was 11, Sage had lived in four different countries and spoke several languages.

She loved that military childhood. “It was the best possible upbringing,” she remembers. “The most difficult part came after I moved out of that protected world. I call the military the most diverse, yet sheltered, upbringing possible.vIt doesn’t matter what you look like. My parents are in an interracial marriage. My dad’s black, my mom’s Irish and Italian and nobody cared.”

“The military was diverse, but everybody accepted and took care of each other. When I got out in the civilian world, I learned about a lot of issues because I was biracial, or not being black enough or white enough for some people. So it was kind of scary to go out where people aren’t as accepting and tolerant as they are in the United States military.”

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history
Gary Steele in football gear with his father, Frank Steele, and his brother, fellow cadet Michael Steele.

Steele thinks part of the reason that her dad underplays his pioneering role was that he also grew up as an Army brat. “My dad’s father was a Buffalo Soldier. He knew about the race issues in the ’30s and ’40s and during World War Two,” she said.

“Dad thought that others had already been through so much more than him. As he’s gotten older, he has so many people reaching out to him to say thank you for being that brave face of change. But he raised us in the spirit of the West Point cadet prayer: ‘Help me to choose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong, and to never tell a half truth when the whole can be won.'”

We’re lucky that Gary Steele is still with us and that he has a daughter who’s so determined to champion the values that made him. Here’s hoping we’re all back to normal next year and that the Army-Navy game will be played before a packed house in New York City.

If you see Steele at the game, make sure to thank him for his service in the U.S. Army and his contribution to all the progress we’ve made over the last 50 years.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Teen loses over 100 pounds to join Army

Luis Enrique Pinto Jr. joined the Army so he could do something different. But first, he had to do something extraordinary.

Just seven months ago, the 6-foot-1-inch teenager was overweight at 317 pounds and unable to pass the Army’s weight requirements.

The former high school football offensive lineman admitted his diet was full of carbohydrates, but he vowed to slim down so he could sign up.

Luis, 18, recalled being part of something bigger than himself while playing on his football team, and he craved for that again with the Army.


“I transferred that same mentality over to life after high school,” he said Aug. 14, 2019.

Initially, his recruiter, Staff Sgt. Philip Long, was skeptical, but still supported his goal.

Long, who has served as a recruiter for almost four years, said he often sees potential recruits struggle to pass requirements even when they only have a few pounds to lose.

“They never put the effort into it,” he said. “They never actually care enough and they don’t go anywhere. And then you turn around and you got someone like Luis.”

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Before and after shots of Luis Enrique Pinto Jr., who lost 113 pounds in seven months in order to pass the Army’s weight requirements. Luis enlisted as a 14E, which is responsible for operating and maintaining Patriot weapon systems, and plans to report to basic training in September 2019.

Slimming down

Luis was born in Oakland, but later grew up in Peru and Las Vegas. He currently works as an electrician at construction sites, but recently decided he wanted to be the first in his family to serve in the U.S. military.

“You’ve got one life. I don’t want to wake up and do the same thing every single day,” he said. “There’s a whole world out there.”

Before he could sign the enlistment papers, he cracked down on his diet and stepped up his fitness to cut his weight.

Cardio was his toughest hurdle, he said. He began to do high-intensity interval training where he switched between jogs and sprints to improve his run time.

“Running wasn’t my strong suit,” he said. “Carrying all that extra weight and trying to run definitely increased my time.”

As the months dragged on, he extended his interval training. He now runs 1 mile in just six minutes and 30 seconds — about half the time he ran it when he first started.

His mother also motivated him to hit the gym, especially on those days when he felt like taking an off day.

“One thing she told me is to just show up,” he said. “Just show up and don’t worry about the workout that’s to come. You show up at the gym and once you’re there, you’re already there so might as well just get it over with.”

The near-daily workouts began to pay off and he shed pound after pound — 113 of them to be exact.

Now at 204 pounds, Luis has also seen a positive change in his attitude.

“When I was big, I was really insecure,” he said. “Now I’m walking with my head up high.”

His recruiter said Luis’ dedication to lose over 100 pounds should be an inspiration to others.

“That’s a human. He lost the equivalent of a human in seven months,” Long said.

The top 10 most patriotic moments in sports history

Luis Enrique Pinto Jr. with his recruiter, Staff Sgt. Philip Long. Luis lost 113 pounds in seven months in order to pass the Army’s weight requirements. With help from his recruiter, he enlisted as a 14E, which is responsible for operating and maintaining Patriot weapon systems, and plans to report to basic training in September 2019.

Basic training

With help from his recruiter, Luis was able to enlist as a 14E — responsible for operating and maintaining Patriot weapon systems, one of the world’s most advanced missile systems.

The new job also came with a ,000 bonus.

Luis plans to report to basic training in early September 2019. He started future soldier training this week to learn what to expect in the weeks ahead as well as in his Army career.

He also blew past the Occupational Physical Assessment Test, which the Army now administers to new recruits to ensure they can physically perform a certain job.

“Every event was like it was made for him; it was easy,” Long said.

Whatever the challenge Luis may face in the Army, his recruiter has no doubt he can overcome it.

“To have that heart and that drive to keep pushing forward, it’s impressive. It got him to where he can enlist in the Army,” Long said. “That mentality is going to carry him through his career and through life and he’ll be extremely successful.”

Luis said he looks forward to the extra physical training within the Army lifestyle, as he now aims to drop down to 190 pounds.

“Hitting my goal weight definitely isn’t my end goal,” he said. “There’s still way more to come. I still want to get better.”

But for now, the wardrobe the Army plans to issue him should at least accommodate his current figure.

“I pretty much use my old shirts for blankets at this point,” he said, laughing.

This article originally appeared on United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

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