Welcome to the Science of Sport, where we bring you the second, third, and fourth level of analysis you will not find anywhere else.

Be it doping in sport, hot topics like Caster Semenya or Oscar Pistorius, or the dehydration myth, we try to translate the science behind sports and sports performance.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Science of Sport diary

Dear diary...musings and networking at The Science of Sport

Some admin and house-keeping

Today is a "Dear Diary"-type of post, where I have some musings and thoughts on the some "house-keeping" issues for the site, and some ideas about future posts. So bear with me...

Recap of the World Marathon Major outcomes

Hope you all enjoyed yesterday's New York City Marathon, the last of the big city marathons of 2008. It brought $500,000 paydays for Martin Lel and Irina Mikitenko. Lel, of Kenya, won because he won three marathons in the cycle (London, New York, London), and then came 5th in the Beijing Olympic marathon, whereas Mikitenko won thanks to tie-breaking vote!

She was tied with Gete Wami and the first (and apparently only official) tie-breaker used is to look at head to head results. Turns out that Wami and Mikitenko raced twice, and they each had one win, so it remained a tie. It then went to a vote. In the end, I believe the vote went the way of the more deserving athlete, but still, it seems odd to me that such a prestigious (and large) prize gets given on the basis of a subjective vote. The "electorate" (an appropriate word at the moment, in the USA!) will argue that the vote was not subjective because Mikitenko was more deserving because she earned her points in FEWER races and also had a faster average time than Wami.

I agree on the points per race argument, but to give the award based on average times is shaky, because as one can see immediately just by glancing at the times from the top 6 marathons, you can't compare Berlin, Chicago and London to Beijing, New York or Boston. So the choice of marathons determines that particular outcome. However, the fact that Mikitenko earned her points in fewer races is a strong argument that she's been the best marathon runner. It would just have been nice to have a formal method for making that decision - doesn't seem too difficult to do. If it's still not possible to separate them after that, then split the money like they do for the Golden League.

Looking ahead - what is in store in the embers of 2008?

That race pretty much wraps up the marathon season - there are still some big races, Fukuoka among them, but the world's elite are now "in hibernation" for a while, as most of the sporting world winds down. That means less news coverage and maybe a focus more on some series here at The Science of Sport. Last week, we looked at heatstroke, and it would be good to get into a few more similar topics in the coming weeks.

Join the Facebook tribe

One thing that we have done recently is create a Facebook group for The Science of Sport. If you haven't already joined, you can do so here.

The idea behind this group is to create a networking opportunity for people who read the site and also spend some time on Facebook. It also will help to hopefully grow our own reach and expand the readership. I read the other day that there are now 110 million people on Facebook (and it's creator is supposedly worth $1.5 billion, which makes me wish I'd invented it!), and so I imagine many of you are regulars.

One thing that we (The Science of Sport, that is) are incredibly grateful for is our regular readership "network" - the email subscribers and frequent visitors, who vindicate the work we do. However, because we're both full-time employed elsewhere, we haven't had the time or opportunity to capitalize on that network and write more often and in more detail on the topics we cover. Getting involved in discussion threads is also often very difficult, squeezed in an afterthought. We're also limited with regards to IT capabilities, and so creating discussion threads and forums on the site has not been possible.

Facebook will hopefully provide that opportunity, and it's an existing, powerful, far-reaching network tool, so why re-invent the wheel? So feel free to make use of the Facebook site to bomb off thoughts and perceptions and to join a community that hopefully shares your insight and desire for informed opinion on sport (which is, after all, what we're all about here!).

We'll also use the site for "spillover" type discussion and content that doesn't quite fit with the blog and to get a more "informal" word or two out. We can't promise that we'll always be able to get involved in discussion, and so we don't want to create a demand that we can't supply! But hopefully, it will be a means to build an expanding network and get the word out a little more. So feel free to join up and fire away!

Your suggestions

Speaking of "firing away", we get loads of emails from readers with questions or specific requests for topics. To date, I must confess that our "conversion" from request to post must be about 30% (I'm embarrassed!). We've tried as much as possible to answer those requests, but unfortunately, the age-old reason of lack of time prevents it in many instances. It's not for lack of appreciation - I have an email folder labelled "Ideas" where every single one of those suggestions is filed! But, I noticed the other day that we have just gone past 400 articles since this site started about 18 months ago, and so covering every topic has been impossible!

But we're trying to change that, and one idea we've had recently is to invite specific topic requests and then spend some time covering them. This might even take the form of a video file in which either Jonathan or I speak on the topic - figure it would be more personal that way! Think of it as "customized Science of Sport!"

So that's on the horizon, we'll certainly keep you posted and hopefully come up with innovative ways of presenting what we hope is innovative thinking!

So stay tuned, just because the running season is winding down doesn't mean we are! As always, thanks for the support and readership, and let's hope that we hit 800 articles by 2010, going even stronger!



C-AHT said...

Hi, another Idea for your folder could be that you may encourage some of the readers to write about the said topics/ideas, and that you edit it later? There must be some folks qualified enough to jump into the assistant role?

Regards, Sasha

Anonymous said...

Gents, did you see the article on November 2 in the New York Times about stretching?

Anonymous said...

I have the same question for you--the revelations about static stretching in this NYT article.

Great subject for you to consider!

Cheers, Tim