The first thing any new coach needs to do when they get hired -- besides, you know, throwing out any and all clothes with the logo of the team's rival -- is start changing the team's style. This means worrying about concrete things like tossing out the old playbook and introducing a brand new one, or figuring out what time of day is the best for holding practices. But it also means changing the general atmosphere of the team through non-conventional methods.
Some coaches make a big show about just who is boss around here by gutting the locker room of any overly-rambunctious loudmouths. Other try to light a fire under their players's posteriors by getting all drill instructor-like and making them rise at the crack of dawn for pre-practice practices. Still others instill a more friendly laid-back atmosphere by holding team-building exercises like movie clubs or backyard barbecues, or incorporating themed dress-up dress codes whenever they play games on the road. (Honestly, Tampa Bay Rays coach Joe Maddon is the best.) But Chip Kelly, the new coach for the Philadelphia Eagles, is going a whole different route when it comes to changing the team's culture.
As Bleacher Report, um, reports, the first move that the former Oregon Ducks visor-wearing coach made when he signed his five-year, $32.5 million contract with Philadelphia was to change the diets of his players:
The age of greasy, delicious food has come to an abrupt end for the Eagles. Now, every corner of the craft services table will be stocked with things that are, gulp, good for you.
And people covering the Eagles are aghast. As Geoff Mosher from Comcast Sports in Philadelphia puts it:
Craziest thing I've seen so far right here ... personalized smoothies. twitter.com/GeoffMosherCSN...— Geoff Mosher (@GeoffMosherCSN) April 17, 2013
"Craziest thing," huh? While this may be in stark contrast to the team's previous regime -- as Bleacher Report puts it, former coach Andy Reid, certainly not the healthiest-looking of individuals, tried to pass along his own eating habits by incorporating a menu that "resembled that of any college fraternity" -- maybe the most shocking part of this story is that coaches worrying about their players' diets is considered shocking.
If you read interviews with the best players in any sport, whether it's the NBA, NHL, NFL, backyard wrestling, or even the Lingerie Football League, they keep coming back to the one thing that's led to their success: Practice. Practice, practice, practice. And then practice some more. But it's only just recently that the definition of practice has extended past simply running through plays in the gym to include what's being served at the dinner table.
Just last year, Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, already one of the top players in the league, figured out that he needed to worry about his nutrition if he wanted to remain one of the best. Ron Artest, once the roughest, dirtiest, and seemingly most psychotic players in the NBA, only turned the corner and became a legitimate championship-caliber player a few years ago after hiring a nutritionist and getting on a strict diet. And it took years of criticism from fans and teammates alike regarding his expanding waist for San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval to finally relent, put himself on a diet, lose 38 pounds, and ultimately become a World Series MVP.
We've come a long way from just a bowl of Wheaties doing the trick.
And that kind of mindset certainly extends to us, the non professional-sports-playing public. Whether you have a big presentation at work, or a small role in an independent play in a dank North Hollywood theater, or are prepping with your significant other about how to handle the responsibilities of the baby on the way, practice is key. As the old sports cliché goes, "you win the game off the field." But to not consider your diet part of that practice is not giving it the ol' 110%.
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