2014 Wrap Part 1: Week by week musings

29 Dec 2014 Posted by

Let’s wrap up 2014 with a two-part series covering some of the big stories of 2014.  As usual, it feels as though the science aspect of sport was dominated by doping accusations, explanations and justifications.  These always provide the most controversial, news-worthy stories.  And this is particularly true after the second half of the year, with Russia’s cover-up exposed, Kenya’s athletes dragged into the murky vortex of accusation and accountability, and numerous federations (cycling, as always, and now athletics) placed in the spotlight for their role in enabling doping.

There was much more to the year, however, including a Commonwealth Games and World Cup, and I thought that rather than trying to sum it all up in one post, it would be an interesting exercise to revisit the year through the lens of a weekly column I write for the local South African national paper, The Times.  Looking back makes for a diary of sorts, covering the range of things that were newsworthy to me over the last twelve months.

So, below, first organized by theme/subject to allow you to seek only those articles of interest to you, and then by week, are some of the articles I wrote this year (I don’t have the PDFs of all them, sorry!).

These articles are always informed by local and global sports news, which I then use to leverage a scientific or management perspective.  They’re limited to 600 words, which is never enough to go into real detail, and occasionally I’ve expanded my thoughts into a longer article on the website.

For Part 2 of the 2014 in Review, I’ll share more thoughts on the year, and look ahead to 2015.

Enjoy

Ross

Top

By theme

Doping

July 21 – The Tour de France was history repeating, in terms of the performance levels, and the talk from within the sport.  Why then are we being told this is different?

Sept 8 – The exoneration of South African cyclist Darryl Impey further muddies the already murky doping waters

October 27 – Kenyan rugby sevens doping accusations.  In October, I found myself pulled into doping allegations by a report out of Kenya’s government.  My response to those allegations, on behalf of the entire team

December 8 – Russia’s systematic doping was exposed by German investigative journalism.  The big picture is far more worrying

Sports management (with an SA-slant, usually)

January 13 – If you want to advance sporting performance in a scientific way, always question your answers

February 24 – Paying attention to the prevention of injury may be the most powerful performance enhancer coaches and management can use

March 17 – SA Cricket has a new coach in Russell Domingo.  Why it’s always prudent to leave the judgment for years 2 and 3, regardless of what happens in year 1

March 24 – South Africa’s inefficient funding structure is exposed when compared to the UK sport model.  What this means for the Olympic sports in SA

April 7 – Losing, choking and panic, after South Africa lost yet another knock-out match.  Why this has become a self-fulfilling prophecy driven by SA media and fans

May 19 – Atletico Madrid defied the economic odds to win La Liga and reach the Champions League final.  They’re a dying breed in this world of commercial sport

July 28 – What do the Commonwealth Games actually mean?  Some perspective on medal counts ahead of the inevitable South African over-reaction

August 4 – South Africa’s women underperformed enormously at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.  A look at what that says about SA sport

August 11 – A look at South Africa’s sport funding strategy and global benchmarks in the aftermath of the 2014 Commonwealth Games

August 25 – Transformation in SA rugby was again in the news, as Desmond Tutu called for the Springboks to be more representative.  Some thoughts on the complexities of an enduring South African problem

November 24 – The USA’s wealthy college system provides a harsh filter for sporting development.  South Africa’s Varsity Cup series is intended to replicate it, but faces numerous challenges

December 15 – The IOC is considering a change to the Olympic programme, which may threaten some historical track and field staples, including the 200m and 10,000m

Sports development, talent, and youth performance

January 27 – South African football continues to struggle despite an abundance of resources.  The problems begin at the development of youth football level

February 3 – Early specialization – the debate rages on as to whether children should focus on one sport, or seek maximum exposure for as long possible.  In the SA Rugby context, this is a particularly relevant debate

March 31 – Jamaica’s annual high school athletics meeting is a showcase of world sprinting, 2022.  What we can learn from this sporting system

May 5 – Born to win.  A look at how certain people are innately predisposed for success in certain sports

May 12 – Youth Sports and burnout.  A viewpoint on how to spare children the fate of early burnout, and some advice to well-meaning parents and school coaches

Sports medicine/injury

February 24 – Paying attention to the prevention of injury may be the most powerful performance enhancer coaches and management can use

March 10 – Injury and genes: How genetics influence injury risk, and what can (and can’t) be done by science to prevent it

April 14 Feedback from the International Olympic Committee’s Sports Medicine summit in Monaco, on sports injuries and prevention

May 26 – Football’s showpiece event, the FIFA World Cup, is threatened before the first kick by injuries to star players.  The cause?  A congested calendar, with no room to manage recovery

August 18 – How steroid hormone levels influence performance, and what science says coaches might do to optimize both

Sporting performance/general

June 2 – “A perfect fit”. A look at the Nadal-Federer rivalry

June 30 – A scientific look at factors affecting the performance of teams at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, including heat, fatigue and travel

July 7 – Tactical considerations as the 2014 FIFA world cup enters the knockout phase

July 14 – “More of the same”. FIFA World Cup wrap

July 28 – What do the Commonwealth Games actually mean?  Some perspective on medal counts ahead of the inevitable South African over-reaction

August 18 – How steroid hormone levels influence performance, and what science says coaches might do to optimize both

October 20 – The fall of sporting heroes highlights how falsely we raise them onto pedestals.  Is the standard realistic, or are we entitled to expect athletes to be anything other than athletic?

December 1 – What evolution and Darwin’s finches teach sports managers and coaches about adaptation for performance

Top

Arranged by Date

January 13 – If you want to advance sporting performance in a scientific way, always question your answers

January 27 – South African football continues to struggle despite an abundance of resources.  The problems begin at the development of youth football level

February 3 – Early specialization – the debate rages on as to whether children should focus on one sport, or seek maximum exposure for as long possible.  In the SA Rugby context, this is a particularly relevant debate

February 24 – Paying attention to the prevention of injury may be the most powerful performance enhancer coaches and management can use

March 10 – Injury and genes: How genetics influence injury risk, and what can (and can’t) be done by science to prevent it

March 17 – SA Cricket has a new coach in Russell Domingo.  Why it’s always prudent to leave the judgment for years 2 and 3, regardless of what happens in year 1

March 24 – South Africa’s inefficient funding structure is exposed when compared to the UK sport model.  What this means for the Olympic sports in SA

March 31 – Jamaica’s annual high school athletics meeting is a showcase of world sprinting, 2022.  What we can learn from this sporting system

April 7 – Losing, choking and panic, after South Africa lost yet another knock-out match.  Why this has become a self-fulfilling prophecy driven by SA media and fans

April 14 Feedback from the International Olympic Committee’s Sports Medicine summit in Monaco, on sports injuries and prevention

May 5 – Born to win.  A look at how certain people are innately predisposed for success in certain sports

May 12 – Youth Sports and burnout.  A viewpoint on how to spare children the fate of early burnout, and some advice to well-meaning parents and school coaches

May 19 – Atletico Madrid defied the economic odds to win La Liga and reach the Champions League final.  They’re a dying breed in this world of commercial sport

May 26 – Football’s showpiece event, the FIFA World Cup, is threatened before the first kick by injuries to star players.  The cause?  A congested calendar, with no room to manage recovery

June 2 – “A perfect fit”. A look at the Nadal-Federer rivalry

June 30 – A scientific look at factors affecting the performance of teams at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, including heat, fatigue and travel

July 7 – Tactical considerations as the 2014 FIFA world cup enters the knockout phase

July 14 – “More of the same”. FIFA World Cup wrap

July 21 – The Tour de France was history repeating, in terms of the performance levels, and the talk from within the sport.  Why then are we being told this is different?

July 28 – What do the Commonwealth Games actually mean?  Some perspective on medal counts ahead of the inevitable South African over-reaction

August 4 – South Africa’s women underperformed enormously at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.  A look at what that says about SA sport

August 11 – A look at South Africa’s sport funding strategy and global benchmarks in the aftermath of the 2014 Commonwealth Games

August 18 – How steroid hormone levels influence performance, and what science says coaches might do to optimize both

August 25 Transformation in SA rugby was again in the news, as Desmond Tutu called for the Springboks to be more representative.  Some thoughts on the complexities of an enduring South African problem

Sept 8 – The exoneration of South African cyclist Darryl Impey further muddies the already murky doping waters

October 20 – The fall of sporting heroes highlights how falsely we raise them onto pedestals.  Is the standard realistic, or are we entitled to expect athletes to be anything other than athletic?

October 27 – Kenyan rugby sevens doping accusations.  In October, I found myself pulled into doping allegations by a report out of Kenya’s government.  My response to those allegations, on behalf of the entire team

November 24 – The USA’s wealthy college system provides a harsh filter for sporting development.  South Africa’s Varsity Cup series is intended to replicate it, but faces numerous challenges

December 1 – What evolution and Darwin’s finches teach sports managers and coaches about adaptation for performance

December 8 – Russia’s systematic doping was exposed by German investigative journalism.  The big picture is far more worrying

December 15 – The IOC is considering a change to the Olympic programme, which may threaten some historical track and field staples, including the 200m and 10,000m

 

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