Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Power and Peril of Social Media

It is no longer a question of why should an organization use social media, but how should they use it. With social media the possibilities are endless. Social media allows for a sense of community and increases the speed for feedback and results. Organizations can have direct communication with their customers or members, coaches can send out training schedules and tips to their athletes, athletes can instantly inform their fans of their achievements and the list goes on.

With so many choices out there (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogger, Flickr, YouTube, …) you need to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve from social media before you even start. And as with any form of communication you want to ensure you do not get caught up in the instantaneousness of the medium and are still portraying the right message that represents you and your organization.

To help with this, today at the Canadian Sport for Life Pre-Summit Workshops SIRC presents “The Power and Peril of Social Media”.

Learn from experts how social media can help your sport organization achieve its objectives. This will be an interactive session that will be presented by SIRC and Janice Arnoldi.

Janice Arnoldi of Arnoldi:McPherson (Niagara's leading social media strategy company) will provide an overview of uses and applications of social media. Janice has been a partner in a successful web design and social media strategy firm for 13 years, with major business, non-profit and sport clients. Janice is a former radio journalist and worked in media relations/corporate communications for Ontario Hydro and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. She has taught New Media at the International Academy of Design in Toronto and at Niagara College.

Friday, January 27, 2012

2012 NHL All-Star Weekend

As the NHL season takes a break, the City of Ottawa is catching All-Star Fever! The 2012 All-Star Weekend Celebration kicked off yesterday in Ottawa with a parade of the NHL Trophies escorted by future NHL hopefuls, Timbits hockey players, down the Rideau Canal Skateway. Fans lined the canal, on the ice and on the banks, just to catch a glimpse of Lord Stanley’s Cup. Beyond the obvious highs of the All-Stars coming to Ottawa, the city will benefit from the excitement built up within the community.

All of Ottawa and Gatineau will be involved in the weekend. Events will be held at various sites around the city, including the Rideau Canal Skateway, Théâtre du Casino du Lac-Leamy, Ottawa Convention Centre, and Scotiabank Place. Not only is it an opportunity for the All-Stars to show off their skills but there is the NHL Junior Skills National Competition for the best 7-12 year old hockey players from across the country. Fans can also get a taste of being a pro at Scotiabank NHL Fan Fair at the Ottawa Convention Centre.

The weekend isn’t just about the greatest hockey players in the world coming together, there is also the Energizer Night Skate happening tonight at 7pm on the Rideau Canal Skateway. Participants will light up the night sky over the Rideau Canal while raising money for a good cause. Each participant receives an Energizer LED headlight and an Energizer Night Skate toque. All proceeds from the event go to the Sens Foundation which helps fund charitable organizations that improve quality of life for children and youth across Eastern Ontario.

Thursday, January 26
  • 2:30-3:00pm Trophy Procession Down the Rideau Canal
  • 3pm-10pm Scotiabank NHL Fan Fair
  • 8pm2012 NHL Fantasy Draft
Friday, January 27
  • 10am-10pm Scotiabank NHL Fan Fair
  • 7pm Energizer Night Skate
Saturday, January 28
  • 9am-noon 2012 NHL Junior Skills National Championship
  • 10am-6pm Scotiabank NHL Fan Fair
  • 7pm All-Star Skill Competition
Sunday, January 29
  • 4pm 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game
For full schedule of events and details click here.

Contact SIRC for more information on hockey!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Growing into Biathlon

The word biathlon is of Greek origin and means "two tests". The sport of biathlon combines the two sports of skiing and shooting.  Athletes must complete a cross country ski race stopping throughout the course to shoot at a series of targets.

The sport is challenging both physically and mentally. It is not just about being the fastest skier, athletes must control their body and relax enough to hold the gun still and hit the target. Then without wasting anytime return to the fast pace of the race.

Youth participation and safety concerns have been issues faced by Biathlon.  Many people are reluctant to put children into the sport due to the fact that you have to shoot a rifle. Looking to attract more people to the sport and overcome these obstacles the sport of Paintball Biathlon was born.  Inventors hoped to play off the popularity of paintballing amongst young people and create a safer introduction to the sport of biathlon.

In this sport athletes use paintball guns (or laser guns) instead of a regular rifle, which allows the young athletes to understand the fundamentals of biathlon, without the use of a rifle.  Making for a great introduction to biathlon; kids can enjoy the fun of shooting the paintball gun while racing to finish first. Paintball (or laser) biathlon serves as a grass root program until the athletes are responsible enough to handle a riffle.

The first paintball biathlon event was held in Vermont in 2006, since then the Nordic sport has seen a large jump in enrollment and events can be found all around the world.

References from the SIRC Collection:
  1. Grout, P. (2011). Paintball Biathlon. Cross Country Skier, 31(2), p.30.
  2. Hausermen. (2011).Laser Biathlon Motivates Young Skiers. Cross Country Skier, 31(2), p. 28.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Beyond the Finish Line: A Walk Through the Mixed Zone

Photo courtesy
Polakoff Communications
Once an athlete gets to a certain level, there become many more obligations and expectations of them beyond their performance on the field of play. Walking through the Media Mixed Zone at a major sporting competition is just one of those responsibilities. The Mixed Zone is designed to permit the broadcast and print media to “mix” with athletes for the purpose of an interview in a designated area. Athletes are not obligated to stop for interviews and you can imagine how tough it is if an athlete just had the worst performance ever. But lots still do.

This  dedicated and secured zone is in an area just beyond the field of play that athletes must physically pass through when they are finished competing. They don’t even collect their clothing first. This unique opportunity allows the media and ultimately the viewers to have a window to that raw emotion and immediate thoughts of the athlete.

Some key points to a successful Media Mixed Zone experience for the athlete:
  • Limit interviews to one minute or less so that as many broadcast and print media as possible have the opportunity.
  • Be positive, pleasant, insightful and gracious despite the stressful circumstances.
  • Act like a professional.
  • Give the viewer a reason to care about how you do.

Photo courtesy
Polakoff Communications
It does seem a bit strange to have an athlete perform to physical and mental exhaustion, then ask them to sound eloquent just seconds after for an interview broadcast live around the world. Most well rested and prepared people have difficulty doing this. But this might be the one chance that the public has to hear from an athlete. It’s the 30 second sound bite that will create a post card image of what the athlete is all about. If they act classy, then people will think they are classy. And vice-versa!

Just because the finish line is crossed does not mean that the elite athlete’s job is done. It is important for an athlete to also prepare and train for the moments immediately following their performance.
For more information on athlete interviews, please visit SIRC.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Achilles Heel of the Achilles Tendon

The Achilles tendon is the large fibrous tissue that connects the heel to the muscles of the lower leg.  Named after Achilles, the ancient Greek hero of the Trojan War who was invulnerable except for one spot on his heel, it is the thickest and strongest tendon in the body, so that it can connect with the most powerful muscle group in the body - the calf muscles (plantaris, gastrocnemius and soleus muscles) to the heel bone (calcaneus).  The tendon is vital to such activities as walking, running and jumping, and it’s the sudden explosive starts in sports such as basketball, tennis and racquetball that does the most damage to a tendon that is weak and thinned with age or under-use. An acute rupture of the Achilles tendon can happen to any level of athlete whether world class or recreational. However, research indicates that typically it is the “weekend warrior” male athlete between ages 30 and 50 with no previous tendon issues and is intermittently active, who suffers from this type of injury. 

Diagnosis of a ruptured Achilles tendon is made in a variety of ways.
  • Typically the patient will say that it felt like they were kicked or shot behind the ankle.
  • Presence of a gap in the tendon. However swelling can disguise the gap in acute ruptures.
  • Conduct a Thompson test. With the patient lying face down and feet hanging off the edge of the examination table, the test is positive if there is no plantar flexion of the foot when the adjacent calf is squeezed. Likewise, the test is negative if the foot moves in a plantar flexion direction signifying that the muscles that the tendon is still attached.
Treatment options for an Achilles tendon rupture include surgical and non-surgical approaches and among the medical profession, opinions are divided as to which is preferred.

A few ways to possible prevent Achilles tendon injuries are:
  • Begin any new physical activity programs slowly over time.
  • Do not use equipment you are not familiar with.
  • Wear appropriate footwear.
  • Don’t be the “weekend warrior.” Exercise regularly.
  • Try to limit the amount of time exercising on hard surfaces, such as concrete.

For more information on sports medicine injuries, please contact SIRC.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mountain Sickness Can Happen to Anyone

It is not uncommon for members of national sports team to go on mountain training camps at high altitudes, but trips to the mountains can also include holiday excursions and recreational charges up the inclines. Whether it is for training or for pleasure, any altitude activity should be approached with the proper safety knowledge.

Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is an illness that can affect mountain climbers, hikers, skiers, athletes or travelers at high altitudes (usually above 2400 meters). Incredibly fit athletes are not immune to the effects of high altitudes either. AMS is caused by a combination of reduced air pressure and low oxygen levels found at high altitude and going too high too fast.

Symptoms of mountain sickness can range from mild to life-threatening, affecting the lungs, muscles, heart and nervous system. In minor to moderate cases, an individual may experience symptoms that feel most like a hangover:
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Shortness of breath with exertion
More severe acute mountain sickness symptoms include:
  • Chest tightness or congestion
  • Changes in complexion – gray or pale
  • Coughing (and coughing up blood) 
  • Cyanosis (bluish discolouration of the skin) 
  • Decreased consciousness 
  • Dehydration
  • Inability to walk in a straight line
  • Mental confusion
  • Shortness of breath at rest
The most severe acute mountain sickness cases may result in death due to lung problems or brain swelling, therefore an early diagnosis is obviously important as is an immediate descent to lower elevations. Anyone climbing over 3,000 meters should be prepared to carry enough oxygen for several days. While engaging in high altitude activities, one should always drink plenty of fluids (avoiding alcohol) and eat regular meals that are high in carbohydrates.

For more information on traveling to high altitudes, please visit SIRC.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Guidelines for Media Guides

Photo credit: Michele Walker
Media guides produced by sports teams, organizations and committees serve as valuable resources to members of the media. Despite the fact that there is so much information now on the internet about most teams and sports, a sports related press kit serves as an accurate and factual resource tool for members of the media as it is produced directly by the organization.

While media guide content may vary based on the nature of the sport team, organization or the event  – professional versus amateur, team versus league, major league versus minor league – there are major components that should be included in most guides.
  • Table of contents to assist in the navigation of the guide
  • Staff directory listing office and mobile phone numbers and email addresses
  • Media-specific information on how to make interview requests and apply for media credentials for certain events
  • Schedule of events
  • Profile of the organization and its leadership
  • Team information including rosters and athlete biographies
  • Season preview including statistics, results and superlatives
  • History of the team (or event) including year-by-year results, all-time statistics, previous play-off information
  • Venue information
  • Governing body information and sponsor logos

Design elements can also play a key role in making sure that a media guide is as attractive and user friendly as possible for all media.  Specific knowledge in desktop publishing with layout and design skills are a valuable skill set to the media relations professional, with special attention being paid to:
  • Cover – is it attractive and include key elements of the organization, such as name, logo and year?
  • Font type – is it easy to read and consistent throughout the guide?
  • Graphics  - text boxes, shaded areas, logos and symbols?
  • Colour – how is this used to enhance the media guide?
  • Photos – types used (action and head shoots) and are they in focus, clear and have good contrast?
  • Format - will it be hard  copy, electronic, compact disk, downloadable or all formats?
  • Size – small enough to put in a journalist or photographers pocket, or large enough to have space to make notes?
A media guide can incur production costs and require significant time to plan, research, develop and produce but it will also reap positive publicity from journalists and broadcasters who cover the team or event.

For more information on media guides, please visit SIRC.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Is the Sky Always Going to be the Limit?

 Year after year, games after games, championship after championship, athletes continue to set world records and all-time best results.  But can athletic human performance continue to improve indefinitely? One might contemplate that the time will come when athletes will no longer be faster, higher and stronger. According to a South Korean study of athletics and swimming in the International Journal of Applied Management Science, analyzed data proposes that human performance will reach its pinnacle within the next decade. Statistical analysis suggests that improvements in running and swimming are slowing down, yet does not take into account variations in rules, measurements and environmental changes.

However, a current theory by
Duke University engineers has shown that Olympic swimmers and sprinters have gotten bigger and faster over the past 100 years, having physically grown at a much faster rate than the normal population. According to their data analysis, the average human has gained about 4.83 cm (1.9 inches) in height since 1900, and that the fastest swimmers have grown 11.4 cm (4.5 inches) and the best runners have grown 16.3 cm (6.4 inches). Should those participating in sport over the next century continue to be taller and bigger athletes than today, there is a reasonable expectation that superior athletic performance will continue.

These days athletes are using better training methods, much improved technology and are guided by  better-than-ever prepared coaches and integrated support teams. Today's improved knowledge and applications of physiology, biomechanics and psychology towards an athlete’s performance, are something that could not have even been imagined a few decades ago, yet will most likely be outdated 20 years from now. While it is practical to believe that some sports may be nearer to their upper limit than others, as long as there is a will to continue to improve, we can only hope there is no limit on how far athletic performance can go.

Contact SIRC for more information on athlete training.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Not Your Average Winter Sports - SIRC Newsletter

Winters in Canada are filled with fun, lots of snow and hot chocolate! When we think of winter sports, the first that come to mind are skating sports such as hockey, ringette or figure skating, snow sports such skiing, snowboarding or cross-country skiing. But winter sport enthusiasts are always finding fun and unique ways to spend time outside. Some of these sports may sound familiar whereas others aren’t so much. We want to encourage you to stay active this winter and we think the best way to do that is to showcase all the amazing activities that are out there.

How about some ice-boating or ice-climbing for those of you who sail or rock climb during the summer months? Do you love camping? Then why not try it in the winter.

Read the Full Newsletter - http://www.sirc.ca/newsletters/jan12/index.html

Olympic Legacy: Inspiration for 2012

The 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London have made a promise to reach out the world’s youth in an effort to connect them to the inspirational power of the Olympics, hence they have developed the “International Inspiration” program. This legacy programme, a promise made by the 2012 Olympic Games bid team, is already changing the lives of less fortunate kids in underdeveloped countries. Inspiring them to choose sport gives them the chance to see that they have a right to play and fulfil their potential by participating in local sporting events with their peers, and in turn they will become leaders, positive role models and offer much inspiration.  With a plan to steer youth away from risky behaviours and towards healthy choices and inclusion, this popular program has already produced significant achievements with 19 countries (and counting) to date:
  • 12 million young people have actively participated in physical education, play and sport - many for the first time in their lives
  • Approximately 79,000 teachers, coaches and young leaders have been trained to lead sport, physical education and play in their schools and communities, learning new skills
  • 21 policies, strategies or legislative changes have been implemented or influenced

International Inspiration, with their unique approach, works with policy makers, sporting practitioners as well as with the youth themselves. By doing so, there are changes being made in the way that countries are promoting the role of sport in the community and the school curriculum. Some of the countries already benefitting from this program are Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palau, South Africa, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey and Zambia.

This important project, in cooperation with the London Olympic Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) is supported by a unique partnership of organizations including UK Sport, UNICEF and the British Council. It will continue to focus on ensuring the program is sustainable and will leave a lasting legacy in these countries after its final year in 2014.

Contact SIRC for more information on sport for development.