The Bar is Loaded (Article Banner)

Ringing in a new year is an interesting time: it allows us a formal period of time to reflect on the last year and set goals for the coming one. As I reflected on last year I thought about many things: family, friends, lifting and car insurance. Yes – car insurance. I received a notice that it was time for me to examine my Geico insurance policy and update it based on life changes.

When I received the notice I couldn’t stop thinking about the Geico commercials. I love those things. One of my favorite is with retired Drill Instructor R. Lee Remey portraying a horrible therapist. You know the one – “why don’t we chug on down to mamby-pamby land and maybe we can find you some self-confidence?”. Funny stuff. I get that guy. I was told many of times growing up that ‘big boys don’t cry’. You just don’t show emotion. Because of such I’ve only cried five times: the death of my grandparents, and the passing of Tom Landry and President Ronald Regan and …….the only movie I’ve shed a tear watching: Field of Dreams.

 It wasn’t until the last line of the movie – “Hey Dad, you wanna have a catch?”. That line gets me every time. It speaks directly to the relationship of a father and son. The whole movie is a metaphor for redemption. A son finds his father through the one constant that had always held them together – baseball. James Earl Jones portraying the radical Terrance Mann in  Field of Dreams said it best:  “[T]he one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come”.

Reflecting on this great movie I can’t help but think about the threads on the REAL NASA board last month. Rich talked about lifting with his son Devin and Job uploaded a video of him and Samson training. I had also noted how very rewarding it is to lift with my son – Dallas. And then, BAM, I had one of my epiphanies that I usually have when my mind wonders (or I’ve had one too many beers) – we don’t just lift with our sons, we powerlift with our sons. If the sport of powerlifting was born in the mid-sixties then we can boast we are well into our fourth generation of powerlifters. And as such, we in the sport have a responsibility to maintain the constant. If not for ourselves- save for our sons.

Let’s look back. No one doubts the depth or legitimacy of great squats from Paul Anderson, Rickey Dale Crain, Kaz, Coan, Capt. Kirk, Darryl Johnson or Rich Kahle. And through the three major powerlifting organizations depth and the judging of such remained constant through to the late nineties. A white-lighted squat was legitimate – by anyone’s standards.

Now……. Well, now is now. We have rogue organizations who define depth in the squat from the bottom of the hamstring. Their justification: the equipment prevents the lifter from achieving the originally-defined depth. To further exasperate the situation, cheating is considered a rite of passage in some lifting circles. They brag – loudly I might add – that cheating is simply trying to establish a competitive edge. They boast there is integrity in getting away with breaking the rules.

 Let’s examine this overused word – integrity. Integrity is simply the area where values intersect behavior. In other words, integrity is behaving in accordance to one’s values. So maybe it isn’t an issue of integrity but simply an issue of values. This changes the argument for lifters who cross organizations. Some lifters will ‘cross over’ to a rogue organization to test themselves against their best. A NASA lifter competing in another organization’s meet may argue that judging isn’t their fault. They simply lift within the rules of a given organization. Why squat to depth if no one else is? ……… insert pregnant pause here…………… This argument lacks any sense of value whatsoever. I can draw a hundred analogies in the world – but why? It’s like teaching a pig to sing: it wastes your time and it irritates the pig.

We at NASA place value in lifting within the prescribed rules of powerlifting. A squatter must descend below parallel. Equipment should not restrict the lifter from achieving such. Intimidating judges is not allowed. And a head judge can redlight a 4” high squat.

If gear is too restricting to allow for proper execution – then the gear shouldn’t be allowed.
If a judge is too biased to call a lift within the prescribed rules – then the individual shouldn’t judge.
If a lifter fails to break parallel – then the lift shouldn’t pass.

If none of these are adhered too – then we shouldn’t call it powerlifting. Call it Extreme Lifting, call it Super Lifting, hell, call it Zumba Lifting. I don’t care. Just don’t call it powerlifting.

We should maintain the values of powerlifting set by the sport’s founders. We aren’t going backwards by doing so. That’s just plain stupid. We are preserving a sport for generations to come. We are allowing our sons and one day their sons to connect with a sport their grandfathers competed in.

Let’s continue the good fight. Let’s make powerlifting a constant. Powerlifting is not a mainstream sport and it never will be. There is no reason why this part of our past cannot remain a part of our future.