As I have written before and will probably do until the games change; I am not a fan of most
professional sports. The spirit or soulfulness of these games has been lost to mediocre men
wielding large sums of U.S. currency as their weapon."Do not hold the delusion that your
advancement is accomplished by crushing others." - Marcus Tillius Cicero The 1st century roman
philosopher and political theorist couldn’t be more correct, 2000 years later.
My perception of today’s athletes is that they need to step back from the paparazzi driven exposure
they are given individually. What would be encouraging to see are owners ushering a bigger
presence of humility as a collective. To bring about an honor and dignity to the games to those
that have fallen to the wayside. Given my views, I have been asked; “How are the owners primarily
responsible for today’s athletes personal choices?” The answer to me is exemplified by the
memories of old; the memories of the humble orator, Bear Bryant. "I'll put you through hell, but at
the end of it all we'll be champions. In the spirit of Bear Bryant, it will take a leader to show the rest
of the world what these men are made of". These men of muscle and grit who possess strength and
speed as if for nothing other than they can. Coach Bryant exemplified the concept of team through
holding the team as a whole accountable for the individuals who struggled on and off the field.
Professional American Strength Athletes are at the pinnacle of their success. They have the
opportunity to raise awareness to the mainstream media of who they are. In the late 1970’s,
American Broadcasting Corporation produced The World’s Strongest Man television programming.
They introduced the concept of strength related sports into a new realm. Only a short time later,
Strength Athletics fell into relative obscurity in the United States after ABC ceased broadcasting
of the events. While the sport remained popular in Europe, it wasn’t until the mid 1990’s that
Strongman began its reemergence on ESPN.
Walk into your local pub and ask anyone who their favorite Professional Bowlers Association
athlete is? When they look at you stumped, ask them who their favorite Bass Masters Fishing
Tournament angler is? Follow it with, who is your favorite World’s Strongest Man competitor? To
the last, I guarantee nearly everyone will be able to name someone. Just as fans and enthusiasts can
identify with what it takes to make a 7 – 10 split, and what lengths it takes to land a big fish in your
boat, so too can they identify of what it takes to move half a ton or pull an airplane. It is that ability
for people to identify with something that leads them to further invest their time or energy into
understanding it. By understanding they can appreciate.
The American contingency of athletes this year is the best I have ever seen going into the ASC.
Sadly, odds on favorite to win was 2 time defending champion Derek Poundstone until his
withdrawal yesterday due to a mid-level vertebral fracture suffered earlier this year during
training. Nationals Pro Champion Travis Ortmayer, “The Texas Stoneman” is coming off a
marvelous season and by all accounts a great off season training and nutrition regimen. Nick Best
at 43 years old has shown the younger guys how well he is prepared with his second place finish
at the LA Fit Expo Strongman event. The very hungry Brian Shaw is coming off his virtual tie at
the World’s Strongest Man World Finals with Zydrunas Savickas. Rounding out the list is the new
guy, the 2010 Arnold Strongman Classic Amateur champion and the 7th invitee into this year’s
Arnold Strongman Classic, Mike “they call me M” Jenkins. Multi time participant Brian Siders also
withdrew yesterday due to an unspecified injury, thus somewhat evening the divide between the
U.S. and International contingencies.
Heading into these final weeks preparations for these athletes, it’s clear they have one thing in
common; Respect. Respect for one another and respect for their game. Strongman is a ferocious,
physically demanding expenditure of body and soul that many men attempt and wind up looking
back at it with painful memories and even more painful surgical scars. Those that survive their
injuries, eat well, sleep well, train smarter and have great outside support are the ones whose
longevity is greater than others.
This year’s competition, by all accounts, should be one of the tightest in the 10 year history of the
Arnold Strongman Classic. My best to this year’s competitors and to the recovery of Brian and
Derek. Stay tuned to RxMuscle.com as strongman competitor Lou Costa and I provide play-by-play
coverage for both days’ events in Muscle Central.