Friday, February 03, 2006

Super Bowl Pick: Go Steelers!

Since my team dropped out before the season opened (somebody please buy the Niners from the pennypinching Yorks), my Super Bowl allegiance was up for grabs -- until I saw this article:

Plenty of NFL careers end because of torn anterior cruciate knee ligaments. Ariko Iso may be the first person to make it to the league because of one.

When she was an aspiring basketball player in Tokyo, a ripped-up knee set back her athletic career but got Iso interested in the field of sports medicine.

Two U.S. college degrees and nine years of athletic training later, the 31-year-old Iso has made the career move that, to the other women in her profession, is the groundbreaking step they often envisioned but feared might never come.

Finally, 82 years after the NFL was founded, the Pittsburgh Steelers have hired Iso as a full-time trainer -- the first woman who will treat the injuries, soothe the nerves and calm the fears of the league's millionaire players.
Her parents, who still live in Tokyo, are happy for her success but, she said, "They don't understand this is a fairly big thing for our profession."

It certainly is. Nearly half of the estimated 20,000 registered athletic trainers in the United States are women, and a woman, Julie Max, is president of the National Athletic Trainers Association. But Iso is the only full-time female trainer in the NFL, NHL or major league baseball. The NBA's Houston Rockets have had a female assistant trainer, Michelle Leget, since 1997.

Now there's a reason to support the Steelers.

Interestingly, one of their best players is also of Asian ancestry. Hines Ward credits his mother's demonstration of courage in the face of adversity as a poor Korean immigrant to teaching him how to make it.

"My mom is why I'm here today," Ward said Monday, shortly after the Steelers arrived in Detroit. "My mom worked her tail off for me. She taught me how important it is to work hard. I'm not here if it's not for my mom." Even if, Ward said, smiling, "She's a nervous wreck this week."

I'm enough of a sentimentalist to give the benefit of the doubt to a football star who credits his mother.

Hat tip to angry asian man for both these stories.

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