T Nation

Bear Bryant/athletes of yesterday

Are todays athletes out of shape compared to athletes of the 60’s, 50’s? I have been reading about Bear Bryant and how tough his practices were. No water, no rest, no trainers, no nothin’. Players of today would literally die from heat stroke. Korey Stringer had trainers, water, doctors, and he still died. maybe we are undertraining and too worried about being big and heavy.

I know there are people who say that Bob Hayes’ 9.96 100m in the 60’s was the greatest feat ever. He did it on a cinder (effectively dirt) track & with old spikes, etc.

I think the missing ingredient of yester year is diet and nutrition. We know much more today than we knew then. Remember package labels are a relatively knew thing. We didn’t know how many grams of anything was in our food prior to the eighties. I think todays athletes are stronger. Trainers and doctors keep athletes healthier and recovery times are faster in the event of an injury. No rest no water doesn’t translate to better atheletes in my opinion.

I assure you that water is not a sign of weakness. I played for UVA and can say that practices and off season training are the difficult.
I wonder what you mean by tough practices? The simple act of pushing today’s athlete is harder than those days. Quite a few of the safeties in today’s NFl weigh as much as the lineman in the 50’s and sixties. Its a different game in many ways.

I think that there may be a bad assumption here, and that is that in the 50’s and 60’s there were not deaths on the Athletic field… and there were. Since they were not reported to the extent they are today, we don’t have ANY idea on numbers, but there were probably AT LEAST as many. Are the atheletes of today more out of shape? I don’t think so. I look at those sideline pics, of say, an NFL team of the fifities and sixties, and a lot of those guys look like shit. Tough? Yes. More in shape? Doubtful. Are the atheletes of today more “winey” and “spoiled”? You bet…HOWEVER…that is the minority. As Coach Davies has said…the kids today will often give you all that you ask of them, and will do it willingly.

Here’s the only logical way to answer that question:

Do today’s players achieve better performances than athletes of yesterday? If so, then they’re in better shape.

Now of course, there are chemical and technological advanced to take into consideration also, however, my point is simply that PERFORMANCE LEVELS determines what kind of shape you’re in, NOT how hard you do or don’t train.

The athletic performance says that todays athletes are equal or better than those of years past in conditioning. However, I think what you’re pointing out is a difference in mental toughness, whether it’s just that they didn’t know anything else, or through some masochistic ideal strove to endure more than the next guy.

I agree Charles, however these athletes could endure more. Put Shannon Sharpe back in the fifties and he would quit. However, did athletes of yesteryear have a greater “capacity for work” as Coach Davies would say. Anyone?

Chris: A lot of these atheletes, especially the Pros, verge on being almost Cyborgs! Their physical strength, power, flexibility, speed…any paramenter you want to measure…is greater than atheletes (on average)of the 50’s and 60’s. So yes…their “capacity to work” is CERTAINLY greater…no question…and don’t think for one instance there is not a lot of mental toughness out there…

GREAT POST, although I think the comparison of the tragic situations is difficult. However, players of yesteryear saw a wall infront of them and knew they were going to go through it (not whether they were too fatigued). Quite obviously I have a tainted vantage point because the ball player who approaches me is looking to follow my pathway. I spoke only yesterday to a major NCAA program yesterday who are beginning to adopt my program and finding the psychological approach the greatest benefit. Within many levels including top NCAA programs, many athletes are hindered with lower work thresholds but anxious for the leadership to go beyond and excell at this level and beyond. In faith, Coach Davies

there was an article on here, that applies. “Dangerously hardcore? or Dangerously stupid.” The stuff that you bring up was dangerously stupid.

It has to do with being strong upstairs in your head. Understand? When my dad played hoops in high school & college at Georgetown in Ky. The coaches allowed no water. It was go, go, go. You had to be strong. Still today when he plays he doesn’t drink much water. I urge him to though. Not very smart on the coaches part. It was their way of being tuff. It did make the players stronger mentally.

Hey Chris just curious. Is this book about Bear Bryant your reading called “The Junction Boys”?
For all those interested I’d highly recommend this book as an entertaining read.