Saturday, 18 September 2010

Sport Policy: my ergogenic aid & afrodisiac

I just got back from a basketball referee clinic and sat down and found myself reflecting on my week. My week primarily consisted of reading, reading, sleep, reading and reading. With the intention of writing...eventually. But not this week. So as I sat there drinking my tea I realised how much I really just wanted to write something.I was also thinking about I recently acquired friend of mind whom genuinely lives for her work. She will tell you this straight up. She admirably wakes up at 7am every morning heads for the 'office' as she calls it. For the commonman its a 'convenient coffee cafe'. This is what most of us refer to it as. There she works 7am til 9pm at night. I know people say that the days of 9-5pm have gone but christ....I love my work, just as much if not a little more than the next man but not to the extent it is my life (I like to think. Saying that, the truth is my work is continually starting to define who I am as a person; like it or lump it). It is admirable. She got me thinking about what got me up in the morning? I feel like I intrinsically know. I know what took me thousands of miles around the world far far away from those whom I consider(ed) my entire life. My life, like the universe, is continually expanding... I am glad and proud to say that. So here it is. This is a blog about my caffeine. My metaphoric (and sometimes literal) drug. My ergogenic aid. To be honest, its now the main reason why I get up in the morning. Sad or bizarre as it my seem to most. I will keep this blog brief as much MUCH MUCH more is written elsewhere (if you appreciated that pun, then you too are in my position as a budding academic).

My main interest and what I intend to really focus on over my PhD is Sport Policy. * posh condescending voice * 'Sport policy you say matty? Well what is this sport policy you speak of?' Well, sport policy as an area of interest I think is truly remarkable. The power of policy is something not to be overlooked but revered. Within sport we all study our own niches. I should mention at this point, for those who think sport as a small subject of study...think again. Its really not. Its huge and the more you study it, the more you realise this.

Most people's limited experience of sport is that of the gym, the experiences you once had in secondary school(or high school), those guys you see on television and the occasional run around the block because your mother said you needed to lose a few pounds. I accept that to me, many other subjects probably exist in my mind as similar uni-directional forms. I do accept my own ignorance in that respect. So assuming that is the case, I shall endeavour to enlighten you into my world a little.

Whether it (pause for collective breath) be sport nutrition, sport coaching, sport kinesiology, sport psychology, bio mechanics, sport administration, physiology, sport tourism, sport sociology...and many ive missed im sure of it. Whatever floats your boat basically. But sport policy for me in intriguing for two reasons. Firstly the usage of policy and government politics, power and funding permeates all these aforementioned areas. It is this overarching framework which dictates where and how money is spent. The power of government and its role within sport, for me, is often hugely overlooked and underestimated. Secondly, I am intrigued at the contentious and political dimension associated with policy. The justification, the rhetoric, the intentions,the power relations, the expectations and the reality exposed as a consequence. More generally policy notoriously difficult to get right. Most people accept this. Governments often try in vein to produce the best policy documents to justify spending with the belief that it will somehow improve the efficiency and effectiveness of spending. Questions such as 'is that expenditure justified? Can money be spend in better ways? Why are governments spending money here? What are the broader implications of such change in these policies? These are but a few initial and arbitrary questions that fascinate me.

For my PhD I want to compare two countries sport policy. Canada and the UK. I want to how these countries have changed their spending in elite sport. More specifically how this change of spending has affected the organisations that prepare elite athletes for the likes of the Olympics. These are called National Governing Bodies (NGBs) or National sport Organisations (NSOs)outside the UK. My assumption here is that huge variance in funding has some implication to how these sport organisations function, are structured and organised. Again, insert the big questions such as...Is this the most effective way to spend our money? Can government improve policy so that we can get more from our NGBs, so we can be more successful at the end game- the Olympics? From this you can clearly see how I am somewhat combining Business theory with sports. It is this reason why I chose to work under the fantastic Dr Marvin Washington of whom him and I inadvertently share this appreciation for mix of two fascinating fields of study. The University of Alberta, as a few have rather (mind numbingly) pointed out, does not have a specific sport policy programme. Which is both a shame and a blessing. It means that I can truly develop my ideas without being pushed inadvertantly in one way or the other. But it also means that I am not surrounded by people whom directly are interested or even appreciate the work I do. How that quite pans out will be intriguing no doubtm, especially as I have spent the past four years under the wing of a sport policy institute. A good sports policy institute at that. Hopefully I can take away a lot from what I have learnt at Loughborough and equally develop some interesting ideas from the new academics around me to find my own unique style and approach.

I hope that in the not too distant future I can start to publish some pure sport policy articles. Being in a new country means new things. New food, new people, new weather (argh), a new university, new relationships but in a geeky and nerdy sort of policy. A new political arena, a new political and public way of thinking. A new policy system, a new policy structure.I have spent the last four years developing my understanding of the UK Sports system and its policies. I respect that some people spend their whole lives in such a pursuit. But I have a great opportunity to translate these skills. Compare them. Contrast them. Its dynamic, challenging and intriguing.

To me business and sport is the perfect blend. And do you know what...I love it.I love what I do. I chose it purely because it intrigues me. Not many people in the world can say that. I hope this gives you a little insight into my way of thinking. My thoughts and genuinely just why I do what I do. I hope I have somewhat conveyed my feelings of passion and hope you take away a sensation of 'oh I kinda get that, I see how you might find that interesting'. I guess no matter how you look at it, the concept of sport policy is not as abstract as say a maths phd or something (with all due respect). But I like to think that sport policy is both engaging and something that most people can have an opinion on. It has relevance to people in their everyday lives and more than you realise.

Let me illustrate with a simple example. Take London 2012.A direct consequence of a government systematically planning and preparing to provide candidacy for and eventually win the rights to host the 2012 games. All tax payers money. You (UK people) are paying for it directly. The figure now stands close to £10 billion. The logo design,cost a mere £400,000. I bet 9/10 of you, straight away have an opinion on this. Its a pretty visible issue wherever you go, its unavoidable. Its in the media; newspapers, tv, radio you name it. We all have our opinions. Some more informed than others. Nonetheless, engaging right? Intrigued?

I hope so...


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