The Left Field
Left Field is a page that intends to challenge our understanding and perceptions by getting new or different perspectives on sports policy: a place where sport can learn from other disciplines, think tanks or sectors.
We would love to hear from you and anything you come across that is worth a share!
The Cultural Irrelevance of Sport - According to Australian Intellectuals
David Latham comments on the interesting absence of sport as a basis for political or philosophical work in Australian cultural history. While writers from most western societies have often used sport as a means of studying the human condition, despite its immense popularity, Australian intellectuals seem historically to look down on the practice of sport.
Experts' 2015 Tech Predictions
Following the 'Leaders Meet Innovation' event, technology industry leaders are interviewed about what they see as the key tech developments in 2015. Much of the attention is on 'wearables', which are likely to have a huge impact on the health and fitness sector.
Wearable Technology #2
In professional sport, advances in wearable tech are in effect as seen in Premiership Rugby team Saracens employing a device to measure the physical impact of tackling in the game and inform research into concussion. As top-level rugby players get bigger and stronger, concerns about both short-term injuries, and the long-term effects of the physical impact of hits and tackles in the game have grown. Advances in wearable technology have allowed for accurate, real-time and realistic measurement of the forces sustained by players in Premiership Rugby and Saracens are employing this technology to advance the medical care of their players in work that may turn out to be invaluable across the world of professional sport.
Wearable Technology #1
Technology moves so fast, the wearable tech market seems to have barely opened when many of these fitness accessories are already becoming so small and discreet that they can be worn without anyone else knowing. It seems inevitable that this technology will play a role in improving fitness and health in a much larger scale, but how soon is unclear.
The Orwellian Athlete
With the recent explosion in technological advances combined with the pressure to achieve in elite sport, athletes are scrutinised to the point where more and more aspects of their lives are monitored and controlled by coaches and management. There are obvious ethical implications here, many having suggested that athletes' rights are being eroded in many respects already. Would we accept this treatment of people in any other profession?
Sport Bids for Corporate Players
An article citing several examples of how the corporate imperatives in sport are necessitating that leadership in the industry is increasingly given over to individuals with expertise from other sectors. The demands of successfully running a business like a football club or a golf tour in the 21st century now require people with significant prior experience in other industries.
How to improve gyms
Writer Alan Tyers casts a sardonic but insightful eye over the gym and makes some frank recommendations. Funny? Yes. A serious point also. Gyms are more ubiquitous and accessible than ever before, but are they currently performing a function as an effective means of tackling physical inactivity in their present form?
Do athletes make good businessmen and women?
It's popular to extol the virtues of sport and how it develops skills and characteristics to succeed in all spheres of living, but is it true that successful athletes are generally more resilient, ambitious and entrepreneurial than the rest of us? This article from The Telegraph offers some examples of athletes who have transitioned into successful business careers.
The History of American Sport in 40 Charts
A fascinating collection of maps and charts depicting statistics from throughout the history of the main sports in the United States. The trends and changes in things as disparate as fan-bases, player-origins and NFL tactics make a comprehensive picture of American sport across the decades.
E-sports Part 2
Since the 'E-sports' Left Field entry a few weeks ago (see below), Amazon have secured a $970 million dollar deal to purchase Twitch, the website that allows users to view other people engaging and competing in online gaming. Twitch can boast up to 55 million users a month, behind only Google, Netflix, and YouTube in the US for user numbers, emphasising what an enormous future market this is and how technology is creating new, pseudo-sports and opening new possibilities for consuming them.
Horseball is an equestrian event descended from Juego del Pato, the national game of Argentina since 1953, but dating back to the 17th Century in early incarnations. A future Olympic sport? Why not? Sport is a constantly evolving culture and this is reflected in the Olympics where, for example, new sports such as BMX and snowboarding have become staple disciplines as a result of their enormous popularity.
In Praise of PE
An article by United Learning Chief Executive Jon Coles, extolling the virtues of physical education in schools and its many, far-reaching benefits. The way Jon compares today's standards in school sport and teaching with those of the 1980s highlights an important message about the necessity to move away from old and out-dated PE teacher and school sport stereotypes.
Amateurism and Collegiate Sport in the US
A landmark court-ruling in the United States has fallen in favour of one athlete battling for compensation for playing in inter-collegiate sports fixtures which make millions for the colleges in broadcasting revenues. The eventual outcome will likely change US college sport forever, not least, as some argue, the developmental benefits inherent in the 'student-athlete' culture in college sport.
In Korea, without celebrity-athletes earning astronomical salaries on the scale of footballers in Europe, the phenomenon of televised gaming or 'e-sports' draws enormous viewing figures and levels of fandom. This article from a sports marketing company suggests this is a largely untapped sponsorship opportunity for multinational organisations.
Sport and Drone Technology
"Airdog" is a drone that can be fitted with a camera and programmed to follow and film a small GPS unit. It's become a popular way for extreme sports enthusiasts to film themselves without the help of others, but it's technology that will inevitably become a part of viewing sport for us all.
David Papineau on Amateurism
Blogger David Papineau writes a thought-provoking opinion piece on sport and the conflict between professionalism and amateur values. The above picture is of "The Ghost Runner" John Tarrant.
Winning the Tour de France
What it takes to win the world's greatest cycle race, and the impact on technology of the various demands of cobblestones, time-trialling and climbing.
Ted.com Top 10 Sport Talks
A list of 10 sport-related talks from the Ted.com archive. David Epstein on athlete-evolution and the Chris Kluwe lecture on interactive technologies are particularly interesting.
Is football "socialist"?
Do different sports reflect different political ideologies? American political commentator, columnist and lawyer Ann Coulter wrote how football (soccer) is thoroughly un-American, despite some of the rather socialist elements of American sport as pointed out by Dan Hancox. Ann Coulter's original blog can be found at: http://www.anncoulter.com/columns/2014-06-25.html