Tag: sports psychology

“Brave in the Attempt”: Special Olympics Maryland Begins Today in Towson

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Swimmer Bryan Barry from Carroll County (photo by Steve Ruark)

The intellectually disabled athletes who compete in the Special Olympics of Maryland have one key characteristic in common with the hyper-driven young people who train for the U.S. Olympic Team: They are serious about sports, training regularly – and aggressively – with an eye toward victory. One pronounced difference: Special Olympians also train themselves not to fixate on outcome, but to live in the rushing moment of the game, to enjoy active play and camaraderie above all else. Such superb sportsmanship seems to come naturally for most of them.

“They approach the sport to be competitive,” says Jason Schriml, VP of communications for Special Olympics of Maryland. “That all ties in with our motto – ‘Let me win, but if I cannot win let me be brave in the attempt.’ They’re competing against their cohorts. [We emphasize to athletes:] ‘We’re going to train hard, but in the end there’s often only one winner. You still have the dignity and grace, and still enjoyed the process.’”

Marcus Davis of St. Mary's County accepts an award (photo by Steve Ruark).

This weekend’s three-day competition marks the 42nd Special Olympics in Baltimore – the event was founded in Rockville in 1968. Each summer, athletes grouped by age, gender and ability, typically consisting of participants from 10 to their early 70s, compete in track and field, swimming, bocce, softball and cheerleading.

Baseball Damnation: Are the Orioles Actually Cursed?

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baseball_player_Orioles

My neighbor is a perpetual optimist. During the bleakest, hottest off-days of summer, he suits up in orange and khaki and heads down to the Inner Harbor to lead tours through the empty Orioles ballpark. Before the 2011 season began, he handed my one-year-old son his first Orioles uniform, wrapped in black and orange gift paper. For my wife and myself, he had a word of advice: this could be the year. They had just started farming a new pitching staff.

I was a little skeptical. I don’t know much about farming and I don’t know much about pitching. My wife and I hadn’t devoted ourselves financially to an O’s season since 2005. 2005 was the season of Sammy Sosa bobbleheads, Raphael Palmiero’s 3000th hit, and Mr. Sidney Ponson. The Orioles spent 62 days in first place. Then the bottom fell out. Sammy Sosa’s steroid-enhanced batting average deflated. Ponson was let go after his second DUI. One day after hitting 3000, the world learned that Palmiero had failed his urine test. And the Orioles finished fourth in their division, with 88 losses.

But 2011, my neighbor said, would be different. My son was wandering around wearing Oriole colors. People were whispering about the new ace, Brian Matusz. Besides, my neighbor is usually right about everything. His garden is perfect. He’s got a gas-fueled grill.

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