A sport science symposium was held this weekend. A fabulous job was done by the organisers, but unfortunately the media failed to do the event justice. I am yet to find a newspaper article stating that the symposium was actually about the science and practice of running.
A CNC3 report on Monday night, also failed to properly inform the public about the educational content of the event. Instead, the highlight of the report was the fantastic speech delivered by track sprinter, Richard Thompson. His speech was extremely well-delivered, the content was profound, humble and truly inspiring to young athletes.
By no means do I intend to detract from the importance and impact of Mr Thompson's speech. It is absolutely deserving of every bit of publicity that it got. Rather, I am disappointed in the media's coverage of the event as a whole. The symposium aimed to disseminate scientific information in the fields of nutrition, sport science, rehabilitation and strength and conditioning to help runners improve performance and prevent injury. But one would not have grasped the true extent of what a symposium like this aims to provide and accomplish, based on the coverage by the media.
It was failure in reporting, as the media has deprived the public of an opportunity to understand what else occurs at such events, and what is occurring in the scientific world of sport and in the lives of our very own athletes. Isn't the goal of the media to educate and inform? What else went on in the symposium? One would have no clue unless one was there. Brainless reporting.
An incident that occurred after the event was a reflection of the ignorance of even people in the fitness industry when it comes to sport science. A young gentleman in the fitness promotion industry who attended the conference, made the mistake of asserting with great confidence in the presence of one of my colleagues, that cricketers do not need to be strong. A heated discussion ensued. The gentleman, with wrong and strong attitude, was determined to win the argument against a small female, who eventually resorted to quoting definitions of strength and power to put him in his place.
The fact that cricket is one of the biggest sports in the country and region, and the fact that a young man in the fitness industry still thinks that cricket is played by weak, unathletic men in this day and age is deplorable. I realised that in addition to a lack of knowledge about components of fitness, this is probably what he sees on television...men hitting a ball and running down a pitch. But gone are the days when what one sees on the field is how athletes train.
The media has a huge role in changing this perception and needs to start asking better questions of all athletes about what goes on off the pitch and behind the scenes. Sport is more of a science than ever before, where milliseconds matter and when competition is this close, success is not by accident. The media should reflect this in its reporting, rather than the "froo froo" and fluffy coverage of outcomes of competitions. Brainless reporting.
As citizens, we are quick to comment on the fact that sporting bodies do nothing for sports. I admit I have been one of those citizens. However, after realising the poor media coverage of events such as the symposium, I shall think twice about being critical. Is it that sporting authorities are doing nothing, or is it the media's brainless reporting?
There is an entire field of investigative reporting in the world of sport science. There is a large gap in communication between sport scientists and coaches/trainers. They do not speak each other's language, and it is often difficult for the scientists to disseminate their research to coaches, and athletes. The majority of local sporting practices seem to operate on dogma rather than established science. The media can play a huge role in bridging this gap, bringing the two disciplines closer to a more common language.
Likewise, the public does not speak the same language as the athlete, and fails to understand that science should inform sport. In many sports, science is ubiquitous in the daily lives of athletes, but this is not known by the public.
Most scientific information that governs practice and training is filtered from the sport scientist to the coach and then to the athlete. However, without the media, it stops at the athlete, with the public remaining ignorant, like the gentleman above who believes cricketers need not train for strength.
The media needs to catch up to the rapidly changing scientific world of sport. Smarter, more probing questions and investigations will yield a more informed public, and fewer brainless comments, from brainless reporting.
Editor's note: Carla Rauseo, DPT, CSCS, ATRIC is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Certified Aquatic Therapy Rehabilitation Instructor at Total Rehabilitation Centre in San Juan.