All things come to an end…

The semester is coming to an end and so will our blog posts. So, it’s the right time for me to take a look back at the posts I wrote and reflect on what I discovered, what I have learnt and what might be helpful in the future.

 

(more…)

The Battle of a Marginal Sport: Rhythmic Gymnastics

After digging deeper and deeper into Marketing I was wondering why the Big 5, Soccer, Basketball,American Football, Cricket and Rugby are so much more present in media and our public life and why they seem so much more popular. There are so many other interesting sports and perhaps even more beautiful sports. With my last post about Social Branding, mainly in Soccer, I realized that other sports are often underrepresented. As I am a Rhythmic Gymnast the marketing inferiority or publicity struck me the hardest. (more…)

Why is everyone talking about “new trends”?

When I went through recent posts like the ones from Lanny, Nancy, or Lucas, they had one thing in common. They were talking about trends for 2012. I thought about it and actually there are also trends in sports for 2012. I will present to you the top 10 trends for this year and give you a little background on the development in the fitness segment.

(more…)

The Magic about Horses

In my recent posts I have written a lot about horseback riding, the treatment of the horses, and new innovations. Now I would like to concentrate on that fascinating animal behind the sport, which engages in that magical relationship between horse and rider. (more…)

Feel the difference and relieve yourself of stress

In our current society stress is a common phenomenon. I have been under stress for the last week or at least I felt uneasy. It`s a terrible feeling even more when falling into sleep is extremely problematic. I am not relaxed at all since thousands of thoughts are on my mind.

But what happened that I feel that way, which I haven’t felt for a long period of time? I think I know what happened!

(more…)

Animal or Sport Equipment? – The Downsides of Horsebackriding

As much as I love horseback riding and the relationship between humans and horses, there are times when I wish that humans would have never started to use and bond with those pretty and intelligent animals. Of course the majority of us would never even think about harming them, but there are too many that see the horse as sport equipment instead of an animal. (more…)

Social TV

Many people love going to the stadium, to watch their favorite team play. All dressed up, with a beer in their hand, flags, scarves and just enjoying the atmosphere of the game. Others prefer to rather stay at home and watch the game on their TV with popcorn and in their warm and cozy living room, without being soaked with beer during the ecstasy of a goal and ending up deaf because of the loud cheering. For the “coach-potatoes” there is a new innovation called Social TV.

What is Social TV?

James Warren describes Social TV as the “ mass online collaborative experienced that occur in real time during TV broadcasts, extending the viewing experience beyond the google box and towards interaction with the social media.”

It is nothing new following a game via Facebook or Twitter. Whether following a game via TV or Livestream doesn’t matter, anymore says Julian Gradke.

The video below is an example of Social TV during the Copa America Soccer Tournament.

According to Julian Gradke, there might be a time when Smartphones and Tablet PC’s completly replace the TV, by simply following the sport over Facebook or Twitter.

New Innovations

An example for Social TV is the Application Zeebox in the UK, presented by Blogger Martin Bryant. Zeebox combines a UK TV guide with social features. You can log in with Facebook and see what your friends are watching and when celebrities talk about a show or program on twitter. Once you tap on the show can see the cast list, the latest tweets and news about it and a chart tracking popularity.

Here the Promo Video of Zeebox:

My opinion

Social TV can be a nice possibility to follow your team and live your passion where ever you are; whether on the train, waiting for the bus etc. But personally I think I wouldn’t be to fond of it. Firstly, because everybody wouldn’t get their nose away from their smartphone or tablet PC and secondly because the relaxation of sitting on the couch and enjoying a nice game of soccer while others are running around like crazy would be lost.

Anti-doping – can I see your passport, please?

Having the 2012 Olympics in London ahead there is a number of discussions coming up again. And there is one topic I would like to focus on today. My blog mate Alina touched in her “I will keep pushing you” blogpost already on the topic of doping. And I found something really interesting regarding doping and a new technology of tracking drugs in blood and urine.

The Biological Passport

In fact this technology is not a new technology itself (as they are still testing blood and urine for drugs) rather the process is new. Usually, urine is tested a single time on common drugs like EPO or the level of haemoglobin and blood reticulocyte is tested. If the levels vary too much from “normal” values the tested sample will be considered “manipulated/positive“.

And here starts the conflict. Because athletes will claim, that they are suffering some mysterious disease and that is why their haemoglobin or reticulocyte levels are above average.

So, what the “Biological Passport” does is that data of biomarker levels in the blood are collected on a regular bases in order to figure out the average level of the different biomarkers of each individual. And if there are bigger changes found beyond the individual margin, this will be considered clear evidence to the cheating of the athlete. No excuses no more.

Sustainability 

Deepak states in his blog that with the introduction of the passport in 2008 the number of tests with results beyond marginal values has dropped to only 4% (compared to 10% in 2007 and 14% in 2001). Obviously, this test is great success, however Deepak adds, its reliability is denoted 99.9% which implies that out of 1000 samples 1 will be wrongly tested “positive”.

Critics

Apparently there is ways to outwit the passport test as well. For example by employing micro doses of illegal substances it is possible to constantly remain within individual substance boundaries and the test will never state “positive” although drugs have been consumed, Grannygear objects.

Moreover, Grannygear argues that rider’s blood markers naturally change over the time of their career due to improvement in their performance and natural progression as athletes. And it is not clear whether this is accounted for in the biological passport programme or not.

Cervelo Co-Founder Vroomen states in his blog that he has not heard of riders being tested for the biological password between the end of the Tour de France 2010 tour and April 2011. He is wondering about the interval of the samples to be taken and a possible decrease once profiles are established.

Vroomen claims that for athletes the deterrent is not the fact that there exist those individual profiles but that there are constantly samples taken that keep track of changes and so would prove doping. (but if there are no tests on a regular bases, the are no reference values available)

Furthermore, Deepak and Vroomen talk about the cost of this technology. On the one hand the programme lacks transparency as athletes have not full access to their data. Which leads to defending biological passport cases in court which is quite expensive. (wouldn’t it be easy to avoid those cases by simply making it more transparent?)

And on the other hand the high cost of the programme inhibits the spread of usage. Deepak explains that an average laboratory test is about $400. Athlete Marion Jones was tested 160 times in her career which adds up to $64,000 for a single athlete. The UCI (International Cycling Union) spent about $8 million on anti-doping in 2007, which was 50% of their budget, he continues.

And if we then add the money spent on lawsuit in court there is not a lot of money left for further research and improvement of the passport.

Defending the biological passport

In response to Vroomen’s post the UCI gave a counter statement citing evidence to refute Vroomen’s unsupported claims.

In order to do so they provide statistics that “clearly demonstrate” that Vroomen’s allegations were incorrect.

General statistics for Blood Passport Tests only (excluding urine tests and Tour de France 2010) from July 1st 2010 until April 30th 2011 (period referred to by Mr. Vroomen):


2010: 1074


2011: 1577

This includes out-of-competition controls, pre-competition and in-competition controls on all major events during this period and team training camps.

Teams:


CERVELO
 01.07.2010 – 31.12.2010: 45

GARMIN(-CERVELO)
 01.07.2010 – 30.04.2011: 68

The UCI considers Vroomen’s comments ’’unacceptable given the years of research and investment in this area“.

Good anti-doping test but poor publicity ?

I find it very interesting to see such a sensitive reaction to this one blog post. I am wondering about the reasons.

This new technology is recognized by international experts and it has become a reference used internationally, as stated by UCI on pedalmag.com. And there are people like grannygear that really see the value in the technology. It helped the cycling sport to not continue being ill-reputed due to the high number of athletes using drugs.

But it remains the question of the future development. There has already emerged the discussion about introducing it to more sports like swimming as there have been recently more drug abuse cases than before. But I haven’t heard of any action taken.

Why is it so difficult to spread the use of  biological passport? Wouldn’t the different sports gain better reputation if viewers/ fans would know that their idols are not cheating? To me, this test seems like it provides a better result for the individual athlete. Personal data is compared to each other and it is not one fixed value that is always referred to for every athlete.

So, where does actually lie the problem of further implementation? Legal obstacles? Financial obstacles?

Are you convinced? Would you vote for it if there were democratic elections for it?

Shorts not Skirts!!

What do you see when you turn on the TV? In Germany it would likely be soccer, in the USA football, baseball, or basketball, and in the UK rugby. Every nation has its own favorite traditional sport, which of course is a good thing. But now, who do you usually see playing these kinds of sport, men or women? Yes, usually it’s men that have the greater media attention. Now, I am neither a feminist nor the contrary, but I thought that this is an interesting fact to investigate. We have heard a lot about marketing and commercialization of sport from my fellow blogger Mirja, and I would like to extend that to the issue of gender equality. (more…)

Technologies? No, thanks. It’s a matter of time

In my Human eye vs. “Hawk-Eye” post last week I gave an example of a technology that is used in tennis when there is doubt about a ball having dropped down on the line or outside the field. It will provide us with an animated video showing with a 3-6mm accuracy where the ball hit the ground. (more…)