March 6, 2007 marked the 17th annual National Sportsmanship Day promoted by the Institute of International Sport. I was pleased to serve as honorary co-chair of this event with Steve Young and to present the sportsmanship message to students at Coeus International School in Washington, D.C. Thanks to Olympian speedskater Nathaniel Mills, who also serves as the school's physical education and peace education teacher, we engaged in a healthy dialogue on the importance of playing fair and good sportsmanship. Sports play an integral role in getting more people of all ages up and moving. From Little League baseball and high school athletic teams to adult softball leagues and the Senior Games, sports can influence and be a part of everyone’s life. However, one negative experience—a competitor who breaks the rules, an overzealous coach or parent, or a foul-mouthed spectator can ruin the sporting experience. Getting people to participate is one thing, it’s another to ensure players, coaches, and spectators are helping to make the experience positive for everyone involved. I encourage you to read the Council member feature on Susan Dell. Susan’s dedication to her own fitness is just as impressive as her dedication to helping others enjoy the benefits of physical activity and sports—especially that of her own kids!
Before we know it, May will be here and we will be celebrating National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. I hope you’ve started planning your activities to help celebrate the month. In many locations across the nation, the temperatures in May make it easy to be active outdoors. If you work in an office or manage a team, think about ways you can help your colleagues be active this spring and summer and even into the fall. Check out a local intramural sports league or see if you can get a group of co-workers and their families together to form your own league. Many local 5K road races and walks take place throughout the fall and May is a perfect time to encourage people to start their training and a great way to keep them motivated throughout the summer. You may want to consider using the President’s Challenge website as the tracking tool where your teammates or co-workers can log their training activities and keep them motivated throughout the training process. We’ve included follow-up information on Paul Carrozza’s efforts in Texas to promote employee health through the Texas Coalition for Worksite Wellness CEO Summit and the continued efforts in Ohio to motivate Ohio businesses to be more engaged in promoting employee health through the Healthy Ohioans program, an initiative that started under the direction of Dr. J. Nick Baird.
Throughout April, May, and June, there are many national recognition weeks and days to promote all aspects of outdoor activity, especially the conservation and volunteer activities that are necessary to be sure we continue to have wonderful spaces to enjoy well into the future. Planting trees or native flowers, picking up trash, or maintaining trails all provide great opportunities to benefit your body, mind, and the land you enjoy. It’s also an opportune time to introduce a child to a new outdoor activity and teach him or her the importance of conserving the many natural resources we have around us. Plus, your body will benefit from the extra activity!
I look forward to reporting back to you on how the Council celebrated May, which will include the announcement of the winners of our new Lifetime Achievement Award and Community Recognition Awards. We know there are numerous individuals across the country that have advanced physical activity, fitness, and sports and the PCPFS looks forward to recognizing those individuals and learning more about their efforts. While we plan to make this an annual recognition, if you have someone you would like to be considered as one of the first honorees, be sure to get your application in by April 1!
All my best,
Melissa Johnson, M.S.