Being Dick Fosbury and Debbie Brill

January 23, 2024 by Joshua
in Fitness, Leadership, Models

I’ve described what I’m doing practicing sustainability as being an explorer, the Wright brothers, and Roger Bannister. Each comparison had sense, but I think I found a better one: Being like Richard Fosbury creating the Fosbury Flop.

He invented a better way to do the high jump. The videos below show how people did it before him and how he developed a new way. Compared to old ways, it looked backward. Nobody did it that way. He wasn’t a great athlete, but he figured out how to do it better. He won Olympic gold. Now everyone does it how he developed. People do what he developed better. He’s happy they do.

Everyone seems to value sustainability, but I know almost no one who actually tries to live sustainably. They have plenty of advice for others to change, but not them. I’ve faced almost only resistance from people, including (especially) environmentalists.

What I do, like what Fosbury did, looks backward to them. But it works. Like Fosbury, I predict others will start unplugging their fridges, disconnecting their apartments, stopping buying things shipped by container ship, avoiding doof, avoiding flying and other things that improve life, even though our culture teaches as those things are good, and to ignore the harm they cause others.

Anyone want to bet against me, that people will adopt what you now call extreme? Anyone want to bet against me that people will make an art out of it and find many ways to do what I do but for themselves in their ways?

I’ll take that bet, but I suspect few will go for it. As much as you call me extreme, what I do works and improves lives. You might as well start. Click this link to learn about my workshops and take one.

In the meantime, read and watch about Fosbury and the Fosbury Flop, as well as Debbie Brill, whom I just learned about who seemed to have developed the technique independently, then kept at it longer.

Wikipedia: Fosbury Flop:

The Fosbury flop is a jumping style used in the track and field sport of high jump. It was popularized and perfected by American athlete Dick Fosbury, whose gold medal in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City brought it to the world’s attention. The flop became the dominant style of the event; before Fosbury, most elite jumpers used the straddle technique, Western Roll, Eastern cut-off or scissors jump to clear the bar. Though the backwards flop technique had been known for years before Fosbury, landing surfaces had been sandpits or low piles of matting and high jumpers had to land on their feet or at least land carefully to prevent injury. With the advent of deep foam matting, high jumpers were able to be more adventurous in their landing styles and hence more experimental with jumping styles.

Fearless Fosbury Flops to Glory, New York Times 1968:

Fearless Fosbury is a 21-year-old senior at Oregon State University with a major in civil engineering, two bad feet, a worn-out body, an unbelievable style of high-jumping head first on his back, a habit of talking to himself in midair-and a gold medal and an Olympic record. He started jumping over bars in the fifth grade with the orthodox scissor-kick, and cleared 3 feet 10 inches. In high school, despite the dire warnings of every coach who watched him, he invented the “Fosbury Flop” and reached 6‚7. And today in Mexico City he amazed 80,000 persons by clearing 7 feet 41/4 inches for an Olympic record.

. . .

Fosbury foresees the day when boys all over America will be soaring over bars upside-down. “I think quite a few kids will begin trying it my way now,” he said. “I don’t guarantee results, and I don’t recommend my style to anyone. All I say is if a kid can’t straddle, he can try it my way.”

Dick Fosbury had discovered as a schoolboy that by lowering his center of gravity by stretching out on his back he could actually jump higher. Within a decade of his gold medal, the scissors kick had been rendered old-fashioned and the great majority of Olympic high jumpers were using Fosbury’s technique.

Debbie Brill raised the bar

Wikipedia on Debbie Brill:

Debbie Arden Brill, OC (born March 10, 1953) is a Canadian high jump athlete who at the age of 16 became the first North American woman to clear 6 feet. Her reverse jumping style—which is now almost exclusively the technique of elite high jumpers—was called the Brill Bend and was developed by her when she was a child, around the same time as Dick Fosbury was developing the similar Fosbury Flop in the US. Brill won gold in the high jump at the 1970 Commonwealth Games, and at the Pan American Games in 1971. She finished 8th in the 1972 Summer Olympics, then quit the sport in the wake of the Munich massacre, returning three years later. She won gold at the IAAF World Cup in 1979, and at the 1982 Commonwealth Games. She has held the Canadian high jump record since 1969, and set the current record of 1.99 meters in 1982, a few months after giving birth to her first child.

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