Where does sport sit in our sense of national priorities?

With all the recent controversy around drugs in sport, a lot of athletes are justifiably aghast that they are being tarnished with unfair generalisations.  I recently did an interview for ABC radio where they allowed me the time to explore some of the in-depth issues about whether this really was “the blackest day in sport”.  It was the most satisfying interview I’ve ever been involved with.  Here’s why I think sport has the potential to be so much more than it’s current portrayal.  http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2013/02/08/3686567.htm?site=southqld

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Safe sexting? New smartphone app for teenagers

Here’s an interesting new app that’s available now.  I must confess that I’m not sure how I feel about the so-called “inevitability” of teenagers sexting pictures of themselves but the concept is worth debating anyway.  I’ll leave it to you to decide.  http://blogs.kidspot.com.au/villagevoices/is-there-any-such-thing-as-safe-sexting-for-kids/

Where’s the fine line between marketing and marketability for sport?

Happy New Year. The recent Shane Warne situation throws up some interesting questions.  Was that sort of incident good for the promotion of the game, will it bring more crowds to the ground (and to Foxtel), will the marketing dept be secretly thanking Warne for breathing “passion” into a contest that was fizzling out?  On the other hand, with kids watching on prime-time tv, is this what we need to see to try and attract more kids to sport (cricket in particular)?  Is marketing and marketability two different things?

Here’s an article I wrote recently for Cricinfo.  The 170+ reader comments are interesting.  Most people seem to agree with me that the behaviour was unacceptable from a role-modelling perspective but there were a few people who argued the opposite.  Fair enough too.  Some of them sent me some hate mail to my private email address, suggesting that I learn to become a “real man” (whatever that means).  All very amusing.  See what you think.  http://blogs.espncricinfo.com/diffstrokes/archives/2013/01/a_disgrace_to_cricket.php

Early drunkenness points to alcohol problems later in life

Here’s some interesting research out of Europe which talks about early drunkenness and the implications for later life.  Especially around the festive season when there’s a lot of alcohol consumed, sometimes under strict supervision, it appears that the amount we drink is as important a factor as the age at which we start drinking.  http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health-fitness/not-when-you-drink-its-when-you-first-get-drunk-that-may-lead-to-alcohol-related-problems-study-shows/story-fneuz9ev-1226543366990

Binge-drinking trends in teenagers

Whether you’re a parent, coach or adolescent, these figures on teenage binge-drinking might interest you.  The reported levels are still very high but I suppose the upside is that it’s not getting a whole lot worse.  It’s amazing that young people (and the parents that give them alcohol) don’t realise that the more they binge-drink before their brains are fully developed, the more brain damage they are incurring.  It’s like starting a 100 metre race with a two second penalty.  Even Usain Bolt will struggle to win races if he gives Yohan Blake that sort of headstart.  http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/parenting/high-school-students-still-binging/story-fnet08ui-1226534248522

Healthy risk-taking

For anyone who has heard me speak lately, you’ll remember that I’m big into promoting healthy risk-taking in young people.  It’s part of our DNA and comes so naturally to us during those adolescent years.  Yes, taken to extremes, it can lead to disaster but that’s when you bring in other factors like showing-off and substance abuse.  Here’s an excellent article on risk-taking.  My philosophy is:  take risks, take good, calculated risks but if you want to cross that line when it becomes downright stupid, just add peer pressure and alcohol!!!! http://www.generationnext.com.au/2012/12/tips-on-how-to-encourage-safe-risk-taking-in-teenage-boys/

Off-season drug issues for athletes

Here’s a story from the AFL which highlights why the off-season can be a real danger period for elite athletes.  Unlike most other employees who tend to spread their annual holidays throughout the year, footballers and cricketers especially are forced to take their holidays in a big block.  Worse still, they’re all on holiday together which further adds to the problem of group behaviour.  I can’t say I necessarily agree with everything in this article, especially when it tries to paint “pressure” as a major factor.  Pressure? Playing sport for a living?  The Aussie cricket great Keith Miller who also flew fighter jets in WW2 was once asked if he was affected by pressure when playing Test cricket.  “Pressure is a Messerschmidt (German fighter plane) up your arse.  That’s pressure!”

http://www.news.com.au/sport/afl/don-mclardy-blames-afls-pressure-cooker-environment-for-players-rebelling-in-the-off-season/story-fnelctok-1226529267260

Fascinating interview on risk-taking and parenting

This podcast may be slightly geared towards parents and educators but even some young folk may get value out of this I reckon.  I found it really interesting because it sits at the heart of my teaching philosophy which is about giving youth the freedom and trust to make good decisions.  With effective training and clear boundaries, there’s a lot to be said for letting people test the limits, take sensible risks and live with their own decisions.  Anyway, I hope you’ll find it interesting.  http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/11/09/3629417.htm?site=conversations

Trusting your instinct

Anyone who attended any of my recent workshops will know that I’m a big fan of healthy risk-taking and following instinct.  Even when I contradict myself and learn to defy instinct, if practiced often enough, that too becomes a learned behaviour to the point where it becomes instinct.  Standing still when being charged by a lion is against all instincts until you practice it over and over again and then, it becomes (almost) natural.  Gulp!  Here’s some scientific research on why trusting your instinct is generally a good thing.  http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/trust-your-instincts-theyre-right-90-of-the-time/story-fneszs56-1226515801744

Binge drinking and adolescent brains

If you’re hell-bent on drinking heavily through your teenage years, I suppose there’s very little anyone can do to stop you.  There’s always a way to cheat the system, hide it from adults and find someone who’ll supply you with the stuff.  Morality aside, just think of it in purely scientific terms and ask yourself the question: why would I voluntarily damage my brain?  You can always drink later in life but once your brain has been damaged, you’ll never undo the damage. 60+ years is a long time to pay for one big night when you’re 16 or 17.  Here’s some research that will make you think before you drink. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/binge-drinking-traps-brains-in-adolescence-brisbane-research-shows-20121109-291t0.html