Category Archives: E119 Student Blogs

A level playing field – Should Transgender athletes be allowed to compete in the category that matches their gender identity in the 2020 Olympics?

By  Rachael Pugh, Hannah Lake, Sula Douglas, Daniel Breacher and Ryan Williams (E119 19J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


 

The participation of transgender athletes in Olympic competition raises issues not just about sport regulations but of society’s overall attitudes to gender. The whole subject of transgender people can still be divisive and misunderstood in our society. Many people have limited or no contact with transgender people, this can cloud their judgement leading to fear and rumours. From anger over which bathroom people can use, to which clothing a child gets to wear, it is a contentious subject. Transgender participation in sport is a complex issue and may well become more so in the future with the rise of gender neutrality. Sport has long had issues of discrimination and many sports’ governing bodies are working hard to provide fairness and reduce discrimination. Sport in general and the International Olympic Committee in particular, needs to find a way to make participation fair for everyone; transgender athletes as well as cisgender athletes.

One of the main points involved in this discussion is providing equality and equal opportunity for everyone. By excluding transgender athletes from participating in high level events such as the Olympics, we are not promoting equal opportunity. When looking at transgender participation not only high-level athletes need to be considered. Young people often look to athletes as role models. One role model is Laurel Hubbard, a transgender weightlifter, who transitioned from male to female.  After her transition, she went on to successfully compete in the commonwealth games, achieving a record breaking performance in the women’s weightlifting category (Brown, 2018). Kristi Miller, a transgender athlete and activist stated, “Hopefully Laurel’s given some hope to some young trans kid sitting around the world” (Davidson, 2018). Having visible transgender role models for young transgender people is very important – it gives the young people someone to look up to and as a consequence, helps to promote participation in sport for everyone.

However, Laurel’s wins and participation have created some controversy amongst other female competitors and their coaches. Jerry Wallwork, Head Coach for the Samoa weightlifting team said, “A man is a man and a woman is a woman and I know a lot of changes have gone through, but in the past Laurel Hubbard used to be a male champion weightlifter” (Davidson, 2018). Wallwork’s comments illustrate the issue of how gender is viewed in society and how often transgender people are not accepted. If more transgender athletes were allowed to compete – this would result in society being exposed to more transgender people in the media.  This exposure would allow them to become more accepted and allow young transgender people to be inspired and participate in sport.

Conversely, there is the issue of fairness for female athletes – how being transgender may give athletes an advantage over other female competitors particularly in the case of Laurel Hubbard who used to compete as a male weightlifter.  “The athletic advantage that Hubbard herself gleaned suggests as much. As a man, the Kiwi scarcely registered in the sport at international level. Today, as a woman, she is a world-beater,” (Brown, 2018).

Currently athletes who have transitioned from female to male can compete without restriction (BBC, 2019). However, for an athlete who has transitioned from male to female it is much more difficult. This is mainly because officials are trying to make it fair for all the female cisgender competitors and there are many physiological differences between males and females. These physiological differences are why we have separate male and female categories in sport in the first place. On average women have two thirds the strength of men, have smaller bones and a lower oxygen carrying capacity (Latham, 2018). The benefits of these physiological differences mean that men are usually stronger, faster and bigger. Not all of these physiological differences can be managed in the medical transitional process, therefore some of the advantages of being born male, remain in the transgender athlete.

When examining the difference between male and female bodies the issue of testosterone is often discussed. In order for a transgender athlete to compete as a female the IOC guideline from 2015 states “the total testosterone level in serum must be kept below ten nanomoles per litre for at least 12 months” (Ingle, 2019) however this is controversial as “women’s testosterone levels tend to range between 0.12 and 1.79 nmol/l, while men’s are typically between 7.7 to 29.4 nmol/l.” (Ingle, 2019). This means that transgender athletes, even those following the IOC Guidelines, could have testosterone levels up to 5 times higher than most female athletes. Higher levels of testosterone increase muscle mass and reduce fatigue both of which are important when competing at a high level of sport (Pietrangelo, 2016).

Many high profile athletes feel passionately about the potential damage to female sport when transgender athletes compete. Sharon Davies, the internationally renowned and celebrated swimmer, said ““I believe there is a fundamental difference between the binary sex you are born with and the gender you may identify as. To protect women’s sport, those with a male sex advantage should not be able to compete in women’s sport.” (Ingle, 2020). These higher levels of testosterone and other physiological advantages mean that cisgender women could have a disadvantage when competing against transgender women.

To conclude, on the one hand society now recognises peoples’ right to change gender however it is very difficult to create a level playing field in some areas and competitive sport is very much one of these. The question of how transgender people compete in Olympic events raises issues of equality of opportunity and fairness of competition. The sports’ governing bodies are attempting to address the issues of physical fairness through regulation but this is not a straight forward process. Scientific development may be ahead of society’s ability to regulate for its consequences in this area. Given the diversity of genders and people in our society this may be an area for adapting and compromising in 2020 and beyond.

 

REFERENCES

Davidson, H (2018) Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard’s eligibility under scrutiny (Online) The Guardian. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2018/apr/09/transgender-weightlifter-laurel-hubbards-eligibility-under-scrutiny (Accessed 28 January 2020)

Latham, A (2018). Physiological difference between male and female athletes. (online). (last updated 28 June 2018). Available at: https://work.chron.com/physiological-differences-between-male-female-athletes-20627.html (Accessed 27 January 2020)

Pietrangelo, A (2016) How testosterone benefits your body (Online)  Healthline. Available at https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-testosterone (Accessed 29 January 2020)

Brown, O (2018). Transgender weightlifter under strain: Laurel Hubbard’s exit may be blessing in disguise as eligibility debate rages (Online) The Telegraph. Available at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/weightlifting/2018/04/09/transgender-weightlifter-strain-laurel-hubbards-exit-may-blessing/ (Accessed 29 Jan, 2020)

Ingle, S. (2019). IOC delays new transgender guidelines after scientists fail to agree. [online] The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/sep/24/ioc-delays-new-transgender-guidelines-2020-olympics [Accessed 28 January 2020].

Eliud Kipchoge: Breaking Barriers

By Sean Byrne, Sam Cross, Anthony Delaney, Ashley Groombridge, Katie Hickson, Louis Hunter (E119 19J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


 

 On the 12th October 2019, Eliud Kipchoge, the current marathon world record holder, became the first person to run the marathon distance under two hours (1.59.40). This incredible accomplishment has been hailed as one of the most monumental milestones in running history, alongside Sir Roger Bannister’s sub 4-minute mile and Usain Bolt’s 9.58 100 metre sprint world record.

So how did he achieve this remarkable feat? Natural talent, dedication and a gruelling training programme, with 140 miles per week, are the understandable foundations of success. Indubitably, the support from an assembled team of skilled coaches, physiotherapists, physiologists and nutritionists overseeing his training, physiological testing, hydration and nutrition strategies (INEOS159challenge , 2019) contributed immensely but what specifically turned his previous failings at the Nike Breaking2 Project, into triumph?

Course selection

The Pater, Vienna, Austria was selected as the perfect location. As one would expect, the route was carefully chosen to eliminate any directional or incline changes to maximise the runners’ economy but Team INEOS’ analysis didn’t stop there. They also considered the altitude and climate; low temperatures (around ten degrees Celsius is considered the benchmark) and low humidity is conducive to running a fast marathon due to the body working harder to regulate its temperature in hot conditions (Sharkey & Gaskill, 2013). It is also believed that running shoes lose grip during humid conditions. (INOES159challenge, 2019). The location also had to be at low altitude, even though Kipchoge lives and trains at high altitude (2400m), science suggests preparing at altitude enables the body to be better conditioned (Fudge, et al., 2018) and racing at a lower altitude whilst acclimated to high altitude will see an increase in performance (Fudge, et al., 2018)The final factor in choosing the location was the time zone difference, Vienna is just one hour behind Eliud’s home time zone- which means his sleeping, eating and training patterns would be minimally affected.

Hydration and Nutrition

 As anticipated, running a marathon requires an enormous amount of energy, this energy is provided by fat and carbohydrates, metabolised aerobically. Fat is supplied from the muscle triglyceride and plasma free fatty acids (FFA), that are mobilised from adipose tissue and transported to the muscles by the circulation (Sharkey & Gaskill, 2013).  Fat is the most abundant source of available energy – enough to fuel muscles to run hundreds of miles but it is slow to break down (Wright, 2018), therefore, as the intensity level increases so does the carbohydrate usage, becoming predominant at high levels of intensity (Sharkey & Gaskill, 2013) i.e. running a marathon at pace.  Carbohydrate is available as glucose in the bloodstream and is also stored in skeletal muscles and the liver as glycogen (Girard Eberle, 2014). Kipchoge’s carbohydrates were topped up during the race by consuming sports drinks and energy gels produced by Maurten (Maurten, 2019).

Rehydrating during the marathon is crucial, dehydration in excess of five per cent of an athlete’s bodyweight results in a decrease in strength, endurance and work capacity (Sharkey & Gaskill, 2013). The ASCM et al. (2016) state that even though exact sweat rates vary from athlete to athlete, most athletes partaking in exercise will require an intake of 0.4 – 0.8 litres of water every hour. Kipchoge rehydrated by drinking Maurten sports drinks, a benefit of consuming a sports drink over water, is that sports drinks contain electrolytes including sodium and potassium – minerals that are crucial for the control of the flow of water in and out of cells and are vital to ensure fluid retention. Furthermore, research has shown that isotonic drinks can be absorbed faster than water alone (Wright, 2018).

Pacemakers

Sir Roger Bannister’s name is entrenched in running history, his exploit legendary yet he couldn’t have achieved the remarkable feat without being paced by friends and teammates. Eliud Kipchoge also enlisted the help of teammates, forty-one of the world’s best middle and long-distance runners to be precise (INEOS159challenge, 2019). These runners rotated at the end of each six-mile lap, followed an electric car with adapted cruise control for greater accuracy. The car projected a laser beam onto the road to keep the runners on the required pace. After extensive aerodynamic research conducted at TU Eindhoven, the pacemakers ran in a reversed V shape, with two runners running behind him, this led to a 85% reduction in air resistance (Eindhoven University of Technology, 2019).

The controversial running shoes

Nike created a bespoke, improved version of their previous Vaporfly Next% running shoes – the AlphaFLY. The AlphaFLY have four chambers containing pressurised fluid, three carbon plates and ZoomX – a lightweight foam, providing cushioning (Roe, 2019). Nike claim the shoes improve running economy by four percent and this claim has been verified by an independent study (Barnes & Kilding, 2019). A variation of the shoe has been worn by the top 10 finishers in the mens’ race at the Chicago Marathon, the following day. In addition, Brigid Kosgei, who broke Paula Radcliffe’s long standing women’s marathon world record in Chicago, also wore the shoe. Subsequently, a group of athletes complained to the IAAF about the shoes, prompting them to establish a working group to analysis the issue.

Spectators

After evaluating the Breaking2 Project’s failed attempt at Monza Racetrack, Italy, Kipchoge bemoaned the lack of spectators to support his phenomenal effort. Positive support from spectators can lead to increased performance (Lavellee, et al., 2012). During his attempt at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, the route was lined by masses of supporters cheering him to greatness.

Unfortunately, his Herculean effort is not recognised as a marathon world record by the IAAF, due to the delivery of hydration and nutrition by bicycle, lack of open competition and rotating world class runners, working as pacemakers (BBC, 2019) but now the barrier has been broken, it’s only a matter of time before an athlete runs sub two hours during a race.

References

American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), 2016. American Dietetic Association (ADA) and Dieticians of Canada (DC) (2016) Joint Position Statement, ‘Nutrition and athletic performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 48(3), p. 543–568.

Barnes, K. R. & Kilding, A. E., 2019. A Randomized Crossover Study Investigating the Running Economy of Highly-Trained Male and Female Distance Runners in Marathon Racing Shoes versus Track Spikes., Bethesda MD: National Center for Biotechnology Information.

BBC, 2019. Eliud Kipchoge breaks two-hour marathon mark by 20 seconds. [Online]
Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/athletics/50025543
[Accessed 27 January 2020].

Eindhoven University of Technology, 2019. TU/e wind tunnel helped break the marathon’s two-hour barrier. [Online]
Available at: https://www.tue.nl/en/news/news-overview/tue-wind-tunnel-helped-break-the-marathons-two-hour-barrier/#top [Accessed 27 January 2020].

Fudge, B., Pringle, J., Maxwell, N. & Richardson, A., 2018. Altitude training in endurance running: perceptions of elite athletes and support staff. Journal of Sports Sciences, 37(2), pp. 163-172.

INEOS159challenge , 2019. Eluid’s Team. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ineos159challenge.com/team/eliuds-team/
[Accessed 26 January 2020].

INEOS159challenge, 2019. Pacemakers. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ineos159challenge.com/team/pacemakers/
[Accessed 26 January 2020].

INOES159challenge, 2019. Why Vienna proved to be the outstanding candidate to host the Ineos 1:59 Challenge?. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ineos159challenge.com/news/why-vienna-proved-to-be-the-outstanding-candidate-to-host-the-ineos-1-59-challenge/
[Accessed 27 January 2020].

Lavellee, D., Kremer, J., Moran, A. & Williams, M., 2012. Sport Psychology: Contemporary Themes. 2nd ed. London: Red Globe Press.

Maurten, 2019. SHOP SPORTS FUEL. [Online]
Available at: https://www.maurten.com/products/gb
[Accessed 27 January 202].

Roe, D., 2019. Everything We Know About Eliud Kipchoge’s Barrier Breaking Shoes. [Online]
Available at: https://www.runnersworld.com/gear/a29447426/eliud-kipchoge-shoes/
[Accessed 27 January 2020].

Sharkey, B. J. & Gaskill, S. E., 2013. Fitness & Health. 7th ed. Champaign: Human Kinetics.

Wright, N., 2018. Unit 29 How nutrition fuels the athlete’s body. [Online]
Available at: https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=1287358
(Accessed 18 May 2019).

 

Can surfing improve mental health?

By Chris Bodell, Jennifer Brand, Archie Collins, Paul Downing, Charlie Edwards and Clare Elliott (E119 19J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


So, can surfing help improve our mental health? Let’s take a look and see how it turned
Jessica Cox’s’ life around.

Jessica Cox revealed in an interview with the BBC (2018) that she had suffered from numerous mental health issues throughout her life including anxiety, family bereavement, post- natal depression and bullying. She explains that she got in with the wrong crowd from an early age of 11, leading to drug and alcohol issues.”I would absolutely say I was at a turning point where if I had got in one more bit of trouble at school I would have been expelled; if I had got arrested one more time I would have got taken into juvenile prison.” (BBC, 2018)

Jessica says the sea saved her and has turned her life around. Jessica sourced a board and
wetsuit and began surfing, “You feel afterwards the feelings of vibrancy and life; it is
unexplainable. You’re just at one with nature, and nature never judges you” (BBC, 2018).
Jessica went on to gain qualifications to teach people to surf, spreading her love of surfing.
“You can feel tired of life and all the things that are going on, and you get into the water and
it literally washes the anxiety away… you feel this release,” (BBC 2018).

Seeing first-hand the positive effects the sea and surfing can have on the mind, mixing the
calming nature of the ocean with the physiological benefits of surfing, Jessica took her
experiences and knowledge and founded Sirens. Sirens offers surfing lessons and retreats to
women of all ages and abilities. They work with other charities to reach out to vulnerable
women and organise community events aimed at people suffering with mental health
conditions, it allows people to get involved in yoga and even learn how to surf. Sirens is a nonprofit organisation meaning that any profits made go back into the company, making them
able to offer their services to disadvantaged or vulnerable women and girls.

You can find out more about Jessica’s own journey, along with her journey helping others by
visiting: https://www.inspiresirens.org/

There are many examples on how mixing the benefits of the physical activity of surfing and
being in the ocean are having positive effects on a person’s mental wellbeing!
The Wave Project is a community interest company that aims to change young people’s lives
through surfing, it started as a NHS funded project where 20 young people, diagnosed with a
range of mental health disorders, met on the beach for a surfing lesson. After surfing
participants felt less angry, calmer and more connected with one another. One person who
had been diagnosed with selective mutism even began speaking freely again! The wave
project has over 900 volunteers and has joined 6 other surf therapy programmes around the
world to form the International Surf Therapy Organisation (ISTO)! (Waveproject, 2020).
An initiative called Blue Health analysed 35 scientific studies of how blue spaces, i.e. ocean,
lakes etc, benefit our health and wellbeing. They found that interaction with blue spaces has
a positive effect on mental health, especially reducing stress.

One study that blue health completed involved using technology to bring 360-degree videos
using a virtual reality headset to those where natural blue spaces were inaccessible. This
technology was also able benefit elderly or disabled people or those with certain medical
conditions (Bluehealth, 2020).

The Blue Mind Theory explains the mildly meditative state we enter when we are in, near or
under water, comparative to the Red mind state which describes our state of mind while
suffering from mental health problems. Scientists are evaluating the physical and
“Siren’s aim to offer a supportive, all female environment where you can be inspired by your own abilities, other women, and the environment that surrounds us.” (sirens, 2017).

When researching the psychological effects of water, they found that being by the coast leads to an improved sense of physical health and well-being. Livni (2018) states that “contact with the water induces the meditative state that makes us happier, healthier, calmer, more creative and
more capable of awe”.

“The idea water is medicine will be mainstream within 10 years” (Nicholls, W. 2015).

Surfertoday, a surfing magazine is aimed at current and prospective surfers and promotes the
health and physiological benefits of surfing, but may well be biased. But as we can see earlier
in the blog, there is research and real-life evidence showing: –
“Surfing not only improves your physical fitness, but it also clears your mind and acts as an
emotional stabilizer. Its Zen effect soothes the mind and balances your emotion’s. Those who
actively engage in surfing, know that it reduces stress, boosts our mood, and even helps us
overcome loss nor grief.” (Surfertoday, 2020).

For more information about how surfing can improve your mental health, visit Surfertoday’s
article at: https://www.surfertoday.com/surfing/how-surfing-improves-your-mental-health

Competing in Saudi Arabia: A Moral Controversy

By Lucy Kafourous-Smith, Daniel Morrison, Sam Hughes, Kyle Murray, Sean Gilfillan, Rebecca Murphy and Sam Hughes-Finn (E119 19J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


 

Vision 2030: Saudi Arabia’s ambitious, pervasive overhaul of its economy and society put into motion since 2016. It paints a picture of a nation keen to refurbish its global image and integrate itself with the western world – no small feat considering its historical rejection of western culture, and strict implementation of Islamic laws and values. Aggressive investment into sport has particularly attracted mass media interest as the nation strikes deals for world-class events, such as the boxing rematch of Anthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr held in December 2019, the European Tour for golf, as well as F1 gearing up for Saudi participation in the coming years. The speed at which entirely new venues are being constructed for these events, also reflects the extent of this ambition. Construction of the Diriyah arena for Joshua v Ruiz began a mere two months before the fight.

However, the kingdom’s political track record has roused many sceptics and caused a controversial backlash. Sporting organisations and athletes are facing waves of scrutiny, often being accused of supporting the ambitions of a nation that has an extensive list of human rights abuses under its belt. Human rights group Amnesty International (2019) describes such acts including – but not limited to – repressing government critics, and human rights campaigners with prison sentences; extensive use of the death penalty and state-imposed torture for conduct that isn’t recognised as crime under international law; and continued discrimination against women, LGBTI groups, and the Shi’a Muslim minority. Not to forget the widely reported murder of Arabian journalist Jamal Kashoggi in Istanbul back in 2018, for which the Saudi government were held responsible (Aljazerra News, 2019). Amnesty’s critique resulted in them coining the term ‘sportswashing’ to describe the perceived attempt to use high-profile sport to furnish over these offences. Despite that, purely focusing on historical events would limit the chance of successful future sporting events, and any positive cultural change, however uncomfortable the decision may be.

Prior to his fight, Anthony Joshua was interviewed on the decision to fight in Saudi Arabia, where he simply stated: “My only focus is just the boxing”, but incited scrutiny by commenting that “the country is trying to do a good job politically”(BBC 2019). It would seem he desires to stay politically neutral and is happy to fight and promote his sport wherever it may take him. However, when asked about the possibility of ‘sportswashing’, he replied: “…I would be bothered” (BBC, 2019). He also admits that the decision to fight in Saudi Arabia was a collective one taken by his organizers, as well as his promotor, Eddie Hearn, admitting that the choice to fight there was primarily motivated by the sizable financial offer, leading many to believe that he is being manipulated by money.

Conversely, golfing superstars Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods opted out of participating in the Saudi-hosted European Tour, but state that their decision was not politically influenced. Despite this, McIlroy commented that: “…there’s a morality to it as well” (The Guardian, 2019) but makes the interesting point that there are other countries with political stains where these events are held. Woods notably defended golf’s participation in Saudi Arabia by saying: “I understand the politics behind it but also golf can help heal a lot of that too” (Gray, 2019). Interestingly, Woods turned down a $3m appearance fee offer (Gray, 2019), and McIlroy refused to deny that a similar offer of $2.5m was made to him (The Guardian, 2019), causing many to raise sceptical eyebrows at the copious financial offers in place to persuade key players to simply participate.

In football, the Spanish Super Cup has gone as far as significantly changing its format for the foreseeable future as it holds its next innings in Saudi Arabia. Moving from a 2-team to a 4-team line-up and holding the event in January instead of the pre-season Summer, caused a stir. Yet again, the main motivation for such a shift is believed to be the amount of money flowing. As stated by the BBC (2020) the Spanish media reported a yearly worth of 40m euros. Despite Barcelona benefitting from a 6m-euro cash-in, the team’s coach, Ernesto Valverde, expressed discontent as he preferred the old format from a sporting point of view, and affirms that the 6m offer was the deciding factor for the change (BBC, 2020). However, this deal came with the condition that women were allowed to attend the event – an intriguing outcome from a country that has typically segregated women. Similarly, the Italian Suppercoppa showed positive developments, by allowing women to enter the stadium, albeit form the family enclosures only (Burnton, 2019). But this move signalled the start of culture change, which would allow women the same rights as men, even if it is for a 90-minute game of football.

Formula 1 also has its sights set with a $50m per year Grand Prix deal on the table which could kick off as early as 2021, with a purpose-built circuit being constructed for 2022 (Benson, 2020). Mcevoy (2020) identifies The Grand Prix event is no stranger to countries with unfavourable human rights records as it has previously been hosted by the likes of Abu Dhabi, Russia, and China, but it attempts to deflect criticism by insisting that it is politically neutral. Part of the “vision 2030” plan includes Saudi Arabia holding the desert round of the new Extreme E championships -electric off-road SUV (Auto sport 2019). Criticism to holding it here is defended by its founder, Alejandro Agag, who supports the positive changes occurring in Saudi Arabia, and how it can help strengthen the sporting pillar of vison 2030.

With a variety of perspectives to consider, we may justifiably ponder if the Saudi government is heart-felt in redeeming itself from past mistakes, or if they are leveraging their great wealth to simply ‘gloss over’ its most fundamental flaws. Regarding the athletes themselves, do we judge them as aiding a possibly dishonest regime change, or do we praise them for attempting to bring positivity, and culture to a troubled country?

Reference list

Aljazerra News (2019) ‘Khashoggi’s murder: one year on, here’s what we know’, Aljazerra, 1 October [Blog]. Available at https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/year-jamal-khashoggi-murder-190930100740798.html (Accessed 6 January 2020).

Amnesty International (2018) Saudi Arabia 2018 [online]. Available at https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/saudi-arabia/report-saudi-arabia/ (Accessed on 6 January 2020).

BBC (2019) ‘Joshua v Ruiz II: Anthony Joshua responds to ‘sportswashing” Saudi human rights claims’, BBC, 5 December [Blog]. Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/boxing/50633807 (Accessed 7 January 2020).

BBC (2019) ‘Joshua v Ruiz II: 15,000-seat Diriyah Arena venue revealed’, BBC, 26 November [Blog]. Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/boxing/50557116 (Accessed 8 January 2020).

BBC (2019) ‘Spanish Super Cup – who, why and where?’, BBC, 8 January, [Blog]. Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/51013150 (Accessed 8 January 2020).

BBC (2019) ‘Spanish Super Cup: We are in Saudi Arabia because of money, says Barcelona boss Valverde’, BBC 8 January, [Blog]. Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/51042079 (Accessed 8 January 2020).

Benson, A. (2020) BBC [online]. Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/51137520 (Accessed 17 January 2020).

Burnton, S. (2019) The Guardian [online]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/football/2019/jan/13/supercoppa-controversy-rages-saudi-arabia-treatment-women-jamal-khashoggi (Accessed 16 January 2020).

Grey, W. (2019) Golf channel [online]. Available at https://www.golfchannel.com/news/report-tiger-woods-turned-down-appearance-fee-saudi-arabia-event (Accessed 7 January 2020).

Kalinauckas, A. (2019) Auto Sport [online]. Available at https://www.autosport.com/fe/news/146900/saudi-arabia-to-host-extreme-e-desert-round (Accessed 28 January 2020).

Mcevoy, J. (2020) Daily Mail [online]. Available at https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/sportsnews/article-7882935/F1-poised-join-Saudi-sportswash-50m-year-deal-table.html (Accessed 16 January 2020).

Ordonez, V. (2019) ABC News [online]. Available at https://abcnews.go.com/International/clash-dunes-saudi-arabia-fights-overcome-criticism-controversy/story?id=67562255 (Accessed 28 December 2019).

PA Media (2019) The Guardian [online]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/dec/10/rory-mcilroy-says-morality-played-part-turning-down-saudi-arabia-event-golf (Accessed 3 January 2020).

Saudi Gazette (2014) Al Arabia[online]. Available at http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/features/2016/04/26/Full-text-of-Saudi-Arabia-s-Vision-2030.html (Accessed 8 January 2020).

Why racism is still only being shown a yellow card

By Rojo Warriors – John Dougal, Gavin Dunlop, Okito Gonzales, Conor Langford and Jamie Morrison (E119 18J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


I instantly felt uncomfortable. The moment I walked into one of Europe’s grandest theatres, I looked up to my right, a normal man, someone’s Father, Grandfather, Brother, was casually unfurling a huge flag. Yes, this is a common sight in any football stadium, however, it was what was on the flag that was disturbing, stopping me dead in my tracks. A huge image of The Wehrmacht Eagle (Nazi Imperial Eagle) Symbol appeared before me. Little did I know this was only the start of my ‘experience.’

Photo by Liam McKay on Unsplash

The setting was Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, where The Derby della Capitale (AS Roma v Lazio) was about to take place. An image of Lazio’s most famous fan, Benito Mussolini covered the away section, while chants of ‘Seig Heil’ rang around the sea of straight-armed saluting ‘fans’. This place made an Old Firm game look like a tea party. Disgusted by what I was seeing, I somehow managed to ignore it, what I could not ignore happened with just 10 minutes to go in the game. Roma’s Brazilian defender, Juan, received the ball, when all of a sudden a deafening sound of monkey chants erupted from the Lazio fans, the next time he got the ball, five to ten inflatable bananas appeared with grown men impersonating monkeys. What struck me was there were sections of people looking at us in disgust and judging us for not joining in, as if we were in the wrong. What I could not believe was, the next day, not a thing in the newspapers about it, nothing on the news channels, it was just accepted this is what happens.

That was back in 2011, fast forward seven years and nothing seems to have improved. Boxing Day 2018, Inter host Napoli in Milan in what should be a celebration of Italian football, between two of the country’s most entertaining teams. However, what followed put a massive stain on the league. Throughout what was the stand out Christmas fixture, sections of the Inter crowd inflicted sustained racial abuse on Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, with the Senegal International visibly upset throughout the game in which he was ultimately sent off.

How was this ordeal dealt with? The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) have ignored criticism and upheld a two-match ban for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly for a red card in the game in Milan on Wednesday when he was subjected to racist monkey chants from the Inter fans (Wallace, 2018a). On top of that Inter Milan have been ordered to play their next two Serie A games behind closed doors, and close part of the stadium for one further game following racial abuse aimed at Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly on Boxing Day (Gladwell, 2018). It is hardly a strong stance in stamping out racism, is it? It is merely a slap on the wrists. How do you explain to young kids watching at home, when they ask, “Why is there no fans in the stadium?” or they ask why they cannot go to watch their heroes because of a fan ban? Perhaps they should take heed of Napoli head coach Carlo Ancelotti who demanded the game be called off. “Despite our requests, the game wasn’t suspended. I think it should have been. Next time we’ll stop playing ourselves” (Wallace, 2018b).

Despite having a terrible reputation It’s not just in Italy of course. No country is free of racism – as was demonstrated by the banana skin thrown during the recent north London derby, and the reports of anti-Semitic chanting by Chelsea fans in December (Jones, 2018). The problem of racism in the UK seems to have been highlighted once again with several incidents so far during the 2018/19 season.

Former Liverpool and England star John Barnes recently commented; “The very fact that a real banana skin came on and there was real abuse doesn’t surprise me at all. I just thought it was to be expected” (Independent, 2018)

The fact that Barnes “expected” this sort of behaviour is rather alarming, and suggests that more needs to be done out with football too, to educate society from a young age. Nobody is born racist so they must learn it and pick it up from somewhere, as the recently surfaced very disturbing video of the young Millwall ‘fan’ shows. (Unbelievable! Millwall Racist Woman Teaching a KID To Chant, 2019)

In the UK, the Show Racism the Red Card, an educational charity, was launched in January 1996. The Kick It Out organisation was launched three years earlier. What is worrying is that over 25 years later the problem is still there. With Statistics from Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, reveal an increase in reports for the sixth consecutive year. Racism constituted 53% of them during the 2017/18 season, a rise of 22% from the previous year (Kick It Out, 2018).

With these campaigns in place, why are the stats still rising?
The simple fact is that more needs to be done. It is all very well having these campaigns such as Nike’s ‘Stand Up Speak Up’ campaign that launched in 2005, which received strong criticism from certain players. Gary Neville has criticised Nike for looking to gain commercial advantage from football’s latest anti-racism campaign (The Telegraph, 2005). The criticism comes as Nike were selling black and white wristbands which became more of a must-have fashion accessory rather than a tool to promote standing up against racism.

It is all very well closing stadiums, fining clubs or arresting people, the fact is, it is clearly not working. I feel anti-racism education should be on school curriculums so children are educated from an early age. I also believe the only way to stop it happening now is to go back to what Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti suggested and players simply walk off the park with the game being postponed, that would soon stop these so-called ‘fans’ disgusting behaviour. Finally, I feel the police and clubs should work together to name and shame the people that are guilty of these crimes, ensuring their family and employers are aware of their actions. We need to stop giving racism the yellow card and once and for all show it the red card.

Reference List

Gladwell. B. (2018) ‘Inter Milan given two match stadium closure after Koulibaly monkey chants’, ESPN, 27 December 2018 [Online]. Available at http://www.espn.co.uk/soccer/napoli/story/3737523/inter-milan-given-two-match-stadium-closure-after-koulibaly-monkey-chants (Accessed at 26 January 2019)

Independent (2018) ‘Raheem Sterling Chelsea abuse: Invisible banana skins thrown at black people every day, says John Barnes’, Independent, 11 December 2018 [Online]. Available at https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/raheem-sterling-chelsea-abuse-racism-news-video-twitter-instagram-racist-statement-john-barnes-a8677516.html (Accessed 26 January 2019)

Jones, T. (2018) ‘Fascism is thriving again in Italy, – and finding it’s home on the terraces’, The

Guardian, 29 December [Online]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/29/fascism-italy-racist-abuse-kalidou-koulibaly-italian-football (Accessed at 26 January 2019)

Kick It Out (2018), Available at https://www.kickitout.org/Pages/FAQs/Category/reporting-statistics (Accessed 26 January 2018)

Sky Sports (2018) ‘Chelsea suspend four supporters over alleged Raheem Sterling abuse’, Sky Sports, 11 December 2018 [Online]. Available at https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11668/11577275/chelsea-suspend-four-supporters-over-alleged-raheem-sterling-abuse

The Telegrapgh (2005) ‘Neville attacks Nike PR’, The Telegraph, 10 February 2005 [Online]. Available at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/2355144/Neville-attacks-Nike-PR.html (Accessed 27 January 2019)

Unbelievable! Millwall Racist Woman Teaching a KID To Chant, (2019) YouTube video, added by Team PKO [Online]. Available at https://youtu.be/HmaqX4p0yYM (Accessed 28 January 2019) WARNING Very disturbing language.

Wallace, S (2018a) ‘Kalidou Koulibaly given two-match ban despite being subject to racist monkey chants’, The Telegraph, 27 December 2018 [Online]. Available at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2018/12/27/carlo-ancelotti-says-inter-milan-napoli-should-have-stopped/amp/ (Accessed at 27 January 2019)

On the Ropes: Depression in Boxing

By Inspire team – Corey Johnson, Joseph Bolton, Darcy Skelton and Gavin Macdonald (E119 18J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the four best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


Boxing. The ‘Sweet Science’ of sport. It is often regarded as a macho man’s profession in which there is no place for the weak. However, having said that, in the modern day it is now becoming more prominent that boxers are suffering from inner, more personal fights of their own – Depression.

Sharkey and Gaskill (2013, p. 35) state that depression can be characterised as a collective of having low self esteem, as well as a sense of hopelessness and never ending despair. One man as of late within boxing who has suffered from such an ordeal is former WBA (Super), WBF, IBF and IBO World Heavyweight Champion, ‘The Gypsy King’, Tyson Fury.

Recently, within the past year, Tyson Fury has been incredibly open about his ordeal with depression in the hope to educate others. He was the man who had it all – fame, money and a healthy family – but he also had his demons. When appearing on the Joe Rogan Podcast (How Tyson Fury Bounced Back From Depression & Addiction, JRE MMA Show #47 with Tyson Fury, 2018), Tyson recollected a story in which he was driving towards a bridge at 190mph in a convertible Ferrari which he had only recently just bought (Blair, 2018).

He stated, “I didn’t care about nothing, I just wanted to die so bad. I gave up on life but as I was heading to the bridge I heard a voice saying, ‘No, don’t do this Tyson, think about your kids, your family, your sons and daughter growing up without a dad.”

It was at that moment Tyson decided that he needed to change not just for himself but for his family. The voice that had been putting him down throughout the years had suddenly switched and become the voice for change, to get his life back on track. In the years that followed he overcame many obstacles including battles against substance abuse, weight problems and against boxing authorities to obtain a boxing license.

His appearance on the podcast was to promote his major comeback fight against American Heavyweight boxer Deontay Wilder but it became something much more. Following the appearance he became the people’s champion and an advocate for mental health. Fury’s status grew furthermore after the fight against Wilder when he credited his renewed faith amongst other factors for his successful battle against his ill mental health.

Tyson Fury is a big name in the sports world who was affected by ill mental health. One boxer who was willing to talk to us about mental health in boxing was Team GB’s Lewis Richardson. In an interview with him he stated that;

“Mental health is neglected in boxing due to the image of the sport. Everyone see’s boxing being a macho sport and you have to be physical strong and fit however it is mentally tough”

Here, it is quite evident that due to the perception that modern day society has of boxing, issue such as depression and ill mental health are often overlooked. A lot of people don’t truly understand what elite athletes like Lewis has to go through.

He went on to say, “Mental health issues can come into play particularly with big and pressure fights, as you go to bed thinking about your opponent and that fight is always on your mind until the fight is over.”

From this you can see that fighters at any level can often put themselves into a negative cycle and frame of mind due to the obsession of the opposing boxer. The one thing on their minds is the fight, how can they combat their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses to better their own chances of a victory.

He later added, “Pressure of making weight, pressure of winning, pressure of performing at training and afraid of losing are all factors that could affect mental health in boxers as it is business and the pressure on them is extortionate.”

One key issue that could influence a negative episode could be the hype of positivity which ends up in negativity due to losing a fight or due to an injury in training. All these factors actually coincide with what Tyson Fury had to say himself. It is interesting to say that both boxers, who are going down two very different paths, both share similar beliefs in regards to such important matters.

Various studies show that depression effects one in every four people within the UK. Also, suicide as a result of depression is the biggest killer in males under the age of 45. The male to female ratio of death by suicide is 3:1, which is an alarming observation which needs to be addressed (Gigney, 2017). This is often the case due to the stigma surrounding men suffering from ill mental health and the lack of acceptance of the issue by the man himself.

In regards to sport, this issue is often escalated. This belief is supported by Sports Psychologist Dr Caroline Silby (Gigney, 2017) who, in an interview with Boxing World, states that;

“Elite athletes have a difficult time accepting emotional struggles and seeking assistance. However, once they do seek assistance they often apply their sports work ethic to their emotional recovery, making progress more likely.”

This statement is backed up by Tyson Fury himself who decided the best to overcome his struggles was to box along is long journey of recovery. He openly admits that he still has his off-days in which he has some negatives thought but that is a fairly normal for somebody going through these issues.

Depression can take effect on anybody, no matter how big or small a person is. Boxing proves this, these elite athletes who are stereotyped to be ‘macho men’ can be brought down to rock bottom as a result of depression. However, one thing to remember is that if you, the reader, are going through a battle like this then you too can overcome it with the correct support.

Links for information on Mental Health support

NHS – https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/mental-health-services/how-to-access-mental-health-services/

Time to change – https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/mental-health-and-stigma/help-and-support

Mind – https://www.mind.org.uk/about-us/our-policy-work/sport-physical-activity-and-mental-health/

Reference list

Blair, A. (2018) Tyson Fury opens up on depression, boxing career and Deontay Wilder fight [Online]. Available at https://www.news.com.au/sport/boxing/tyson-fury-opens-up-on-depression-boxing-career-and-deontay-wilder-fight/news-story/54479d963a55b8da9c5ede2f86660f42 (Accessed on 29/01/2019).

 Gigney, G. (2017) LONG READ Boxing needs to address its mental health problem [Online]. Available at http://www.boxingnewsonline.net/long-read-boxing-needs-to-address-its-mental-health-problem/ (Accessed on 29/01/2019).

Joe Rogan – How Tyson Fury Bounced Back From Depression & Addiction (25/10/2018) YouTube video, added by JRE Clips [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrM6WqYEj9Y (Accessed on 29/01/2019).

JRE MMA Show #47 with Tyson Fury (25/10/2018) YouTube video, added by PowerfulJRE [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNZtibrPo0g (Accessed on 29/01/2019).

Sharkey, B. and Gaskill, S. (2013) Fitness and Health (7th edn). Leeds, Human Kinetics.

The Dark-side of the Paralympics

By The Spartans – Jonathon Ingham, George Robinson, Harry Katsanikakis and Eve Williams (E119 18J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the four best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


Every four years the Paralympic games are hosted as a parallel to the Olympics. This paramount international multi-sport event has become the largest single sporting movement globally, full of numerous inspirational, admirable athletes, leading to an emotional para-sport. As the Paralympian’s have a vast range of disabilities, from impaired muscle power such as muscular dystrophy, to limb deficiencies caused by amputations, the need for characterisations is crucial. However, these classifications are of high-priority, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) (2014) illustrates the worry of predictable competition, in which the most able athlete always wins. Hence, the division of para-athletes into ‘sport classes’, established upon their impairment, preventing such concerns.

What is the classification system?

Any Paralympian has a competitive disadvantage when it comes to sport. Hence the classification system. The system allows for the division of para-athletes into their correlative sporting groups, identifying the severity of their impairments. The intention of the classification system is to decrease the impact of individual physical impairments on the overall sports performance, identifying the athletes according to their limitations in a certain sport. The athlete’s fitness, skill, power, ability, focus and tactical ability are now relatively proportional to their competitors, ensuring for equal chance at success, with fair qualifying. Athlete’s performance is dependent on the sport, each sport requires performance of different activities. Consequently, the impact on impairments differs, for classification to minimise the effect on sporting performance classification must be specific (IPC, 2014).

However, the Paralympics permits the observer ignorance, watching from behind a tv or, if lucky enough, the stadium, yet it’s not so innocent. The precise classification process allows exploitation, the IPC warned the BBC (2017) of intentional misrepresentation – athletes bluffing, pretending to have a graver disability with the hope to compete in favourable classes. Paralympian’s described the process of more able-bodied athletes being put into the same categories as severely disabled athletes, with the intention to win by cheating. In the words of hand cyclist Liz McTernan (2017) “we’re not all inspiring, we’re not all ethical”, faking disability is no different to doping.

Blood tests confirm the miss use of drugs, unfortunately, the ability to prove such impairment cheats is not so simple, with no definite way to verify allegations. Despite this, Van de Vliet (2017), the IPCs medical and scientific director, as well as head of classifications, has reassured specific athletes are monitored, with the view to identify consistent manifestation during performances, on-going investigations, with some cases being processed by external legal counsels.

What are the Dirty Tactics?

Further investigations, such as that by the BBC (2017) uncovered the ‘dirty tactics’, manipulating the classification system. Allegedly, schemes were employed by both athletes and coaches.

  • The taping of arms. Swimmers spend days with arms strapped, the tape being removed just before classification, full extension of the limb is now unachievable.
  • Taking cold showers. A swimmer with Cerebral Palsy is submerged into a cold environment, further worsening their already weak muscle tone, or
  • The shortening and removal of limbs. Operations being held with the bid to physically distort athletes, when questioned some athletes described “advance in career”.
  • Athletes using wheelchairs solely for classification, no other time is such equipment used.
  • “Boosting”. Explained by Carpenter (2012) as intentionally increasing blood pressure stimulating the body’s energy and endurance, consequently allowing Paralympian’s to enhance their levels of performance artificially.
  • Classifiers are coaches. Specific to an athlete’s sport, coaches fake the severity of their Paralympian’s disability.

These modern tricks are now described as the para-equivalent to doping. The classification process being criticised due to sport class expansion, allowing less impaired athletes to compete against extreme cases. The classification controversy is with hope to increase medal chances, and sponsorship. Accusations of intimidation and bullying are also present, many athletes are afraid to speak out, fearful they will not be selected for the sport they love (Grey-Thompson, 2017). Cheating in the Paralympics is proof athletes are prepared to go to extreme lengths to stand on the podium.

What does this mean for future Paralympian’s?

Ultimately, the Paralympics is a means of enjoyment, internationally inspiring various social groups proving the impossible is possible. If only this viewpoint was enough to end cheating, unfortunately not.

Ongoing investigations into the Paralympian classification systems, as well as several inquiries into sporting governance are all with the intention to prevent deception. Eriksson, head coach at the Paralympics GB Team 2012, states classifiers are ‘doing the best they can’ (2017). Although, elaborates on the belief the process pinpointing the lies requires an independent organisation, comparable to the World Anti-Doping Agency, using drugs in sport and the means of prevention as guidance.

Strong evidence is a must, confirming cheats is a sensitive issue, for this reason there’s a demand for a powerful case. Paralympic cheating needs to be tackled, tougher punishment, strong repercussions, the same penalties for doping infractions. The hope independent organisations attack the frauds, depleting dishonesty and lies, allowing for less questionable classification to occur.

References

Carpenter, K – Law in Sport (2012). [Online] Available at: https://www.lawinsport.com/blog/kevin-carpenter/item/the-dark-side-of-the-paralympics-cheating-through-boosting

Peter Eriksson – I’m handing back my medal’, a Paralympic study (2017). [Online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/disability-sport/41851149

Grey-Thompson, T – I’m handing back my medal’, a Paralympic study (2017). [Online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/disability-sport/41851149

Grant, P – I’m handing back my medal’, a Paralympic study (2017). [Online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/disability-sport/41253174

The International Paralympic Committee, Official website of the Paralympic Movement (2014). [Online] Available at: https://www.paralympic.org/classification

The Week – Paralympics: ‘Faking disability is no different to doping’ (2017). [Online] Available at: https://www.theweek.co.uk/paralympics/88468/paralympics-faking-disability-is-no-different-to-doping

Van de Vliet, P. – ‘I’m handing back my medal’, a Paralympic study (2017). [Online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/disability-sport/41253174

Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs – How the Desire of Creating the ‘Perfect’ Body Can Cost Your Health

By OUbloggers – Emmanouil Mandalakis, Selysia Lewis, Gabriele Leo and Sam Herd (E119 2018J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the four best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


The development of new technology, such as the internet, in which everyone can upload their body transformation videos, can create feelings of admiration as well as a sense of jealousy. This is particularly common in young men who have a strong desire of building a big lean body like those shown on social media.

Often, the first question that comes to mind of young men on their smartphones is whether or not they can achieve a physique like someone’s on social media, and how quickly a body like this can be achieved.

Interestingly, it is becoming increasingly common when as health and fitness practitioners you must convince young trainees that an aesthetical physique requires patience and long-term consistency; building towards health and beauty should be a gradual process. Laidler (2017), an experienced personal trainer, comprehensively explains in The Telegraph newspaper that factors such as patience, commitment, a healthy diet and specific training programmes, as well as sufficient rest and sleep, will all contribute to the handsome body one desires.

However, in a world in which everything is being created at a rapid pace and everyone is rushing to exhibit their achievements, a quick body transformation is demanded to make one feel proficient and competent, as well as to show it off in their social environment! Someone who begins a hypertrophy programme to build the physique they dream of, or more specifically the ‘perfect’ body they have seen on social media, will soon find out the harsh reality; that is, the body does not change as rapidly as many people advertise. Besides, if it was so simple for us all to get big and lean, then there would be a significantly greater number of young men with the body they desire. On the contrary, if you take a walk around the majority of gyms, you will soon discover that a massive and ‘shredded’ body it is no easy feat. Most individuals cannot naturally reach extremely high muscle mass levels along with very low body fat, with the exception of some individuals who are favored by their genetics, and even this is only up to a certain threshold (Morgan, 2015).

Nevertheless, on the subject of improving self-image in gyms, the argument seems to almost always be the same: ‘how are those two guys in the gym I have been training bigger and leaner than the others? I want to be like them’. If you are constantly asking for an answer, another coach will appear from nowhere and offer you the opportunity to achieve the body you have dreamt of. They will claim they can transform you into a bigger and leaner version of yourself (Krahn, 2009).

With the hope for positive and immediate results but a false sense of body image (Jones, 2016), you suddenly find yourself becoming victim to the IPEDs (Image and Performance Enhancing Drugs) world. (Mandalakis, 2019)

‘Up to a million Britons use steroids for looks not sport’ (The Guardian, 2018). Public health experts have stated that in order to change the way they look, up to 1 million people in the UK are taking anabolic steroids and other IPEDs. Ranging from teenagers seeking the perfect physic and elderly men hoping to hold onto their youthfulness. Anabolic steroids are the biggest group of IPEDs. They are a group of hormones which occur naturally in the body and are responsible for growth, physical development and functioning of reproductive organs. Some athletes abuse anabolic steroids to help them perform better as steroids build muscle and improve athletic performance.

In a Public Health Institute study, more than half of the respondents said that the development of body image was their motivation for using IPEDs. Those who took part ranged from 17-74 years of age, resulting in the average person likely to take IPEDs to be a white male in their 30s (The Guardian, 2018).

Image and performance enhancing drugs can cause numerous health issues; including both physical and mental side effects. For example, IPEDs can cause cardiovascular diseases and permanent disruption of normal sexual function as a result of long-term use (Pope et al., 2014). Some IPEDs are taken by injecting which can cause soft tissue injury and localised infections. Furthermore, sharing injecting equipment can spread HIV, hepatitis C and other infections. In a 2013 study, 8.9% of IPED users stated that they had shared injecting equipment. As a result, it was discovered that 1.5% of IPED injectors across England and Wales were HIV positive, and a further 8% infected by hepatitis B and 5% by hepatitis C (Hope et al., 2013).

Additionally, the main risks of steroids include stunted growth in young people and hypertension; steroids encourage the retention of water in the body and thus raise blood pressure. DrugWise (2017) also states that steroids can cause irreversible changes in the female body including the risk of developing ‘male’ features such as decreased breast size, facial and body hair, and deepening of the voice.

The IPEDs world is a dangerous one… Your health should always come first.

References:
BBC (2017) Main Motivation for Steroid Use ‘to enhance image’ [Online\. Available at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-41984527 (Accessed 22 January 2019).

DrugWise (2017) Performance and Image Enhancing Drugs (PIEDs) [Online]. Available at https://www.drugwise.org.uk/performance-and-image-enhancing-drugs-pieds/ (Accessed 22 January 2019).

The Guardian (2018) Up to a Million Britons Use Steroids For Looks Not Sport [Online]. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jan/21/up-to-a-million-britons-use-steroids-for-looks-not-sport (Accessed 22 January 2019).

Hope, V. D., McVeigh, J., Marongiu, A., Evans-Brown, M., Smith, J., Kimergård, A., Croxford, S., Beynon, C. M., Parry, J. V., Bellis, M. A. and Ncube, F. (2013) ‘Prevalence of, and risk factors for, HIV, hepatitis B and C infections among men who inject image and performance enhancing drugs: a cross-sectional study’, BMJ Open, vol. 3, no. 9 [Online]. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3773656/ (Accessed 22 January 2019).

Jones, H. (2016) Steroid Use in the UK: What You Need to Know, ITV [Online]. Available at https://www.itv.com/goodmorningbritain/news/spencer-matthews-investigates-britains-steroid-epidemic-for-gmb (Accessed 16 January 2019).

Krahn, B. (2009) The Drug Coach [Online]. Available at https://www.t-nation.com/pharma/drug-coach (Accessed 23 January 2019).

Laidler, S. (2017) How to Build Muscle: A Complete Guide to Making a Bigger, Stronger You [Online]. Available at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/build-muscle-complete-guide-making-bigger-stronger/ (Accessed 16 January 2019).

Morgan, A. (2015) Maximum Genetic Muscular Potential – The Models and their Limitations [Online]. Available at https://rippedbody.com/maximum-muscular-potential/ (Accessed 16 January 2019).

Pope, H.G. Jr., Wood R.I., Rogol, A., Nyberg, F., Bowers, L. and Bhasin, S. (2014) ‘Adverse health consequences of performance enhancing drugs: An Endocrine Society Scientific statement’, Endocrine Reviews, vol. 35, no. 3, pp. 341-375 [Online]. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24423981 (Accessed 22 January 2019).

How can schools make sport the foundation of culture and society?

By Russell Dyas, Dean Ellis, Emma Hardwicke and Kevin Smith (E119 18J Students)


This blog was written as part of a collaborative team work task by students studying E119. They had to select a topic and then decide on what roles each person would perform in the team, such as researcher, writer, editor and leader. This blog was chosen as one of the four best blogs from around 80 blogs that were produced.


Research acknowledges the benefits of physical education and sport (PES) for all generations through participation in a wide range of activities. Although it is admirable that those from any generation turn to physical activity to improve their quality of life, there is greater value to the societies of tomorrow that we positively discriminate in supporting the children and youth of today.

Talbot (2001) cited in Bailey (2006, p.397) claims that ‘physical education helps children to develop respect for the body – their own and others, contributes toward the integrated development of mind and body, develops an understanding of the role of aerobic and anaerobic physical activity in health, positively enhances self-confidence and self-esteem, and enhances social and cognitive development and academic achievement.’

The mental health charity ‘Mind’ (2016) has reiterated the importance of being active from an early age and maintaining this throughout life. Some of the key mental health benefits from regular exercise and sport include:

  • Increased self-esteem – Increased confidence not only in a sporting environment but in everyday life. Glenn (2003) describes healthy self-esteem as a realistic, appreciative opinion of oneself.
  • Reduced feelings of stress – Exercise and physical activity helps control the body’s cortisol levels; elevated cortisol levels can increase the chance of heart disease and high blood pressure, and can affect our learning (Christopher, 2013).
  • Reduced risk of depression – One study has found that increasing activity levels – from doing nothing to exercising at least three times a week – will reduce the risk of depression by almost 20% (Mind, 2016).

Obesity amongst primary school aged children is now at an all-time high of 1 child in 3. This means that there needs to be more of an emphasis on exercise and sport activities in schools (Jenkin, 2015).

Oasis Academy Blakenhale Infants’ School introduced a fitness programme called ‘Fit4Schools’, to increase the pupils’ physical health and mental alertness (Hood-Truman, 2015). A teacher at the school explained that ‘our key stage 1 results changed dramatically this year. That is not only down to good teaching but also because we’ve created a really positive learning environment that incorporates physical activity.’

Stephen Roberts, the Managing Director of Fit4Schools, recommends the form of exercise being a 20 second warm-up, then a 20-40 second intense activity followed by a cooldown period, so this could mean jumping on the spot or coordination and balance work (Jenkin, 2015).

There are also behaviour benefits that can stem from being physically active, as Keith Barton from the Youth Trust explains: ‘The thing that leads to poor behaviour is kids not feeling any ownership of what they are doing and not feeling a part of anything. Sport can really help people to feel like part of a team’ (Jenkin, 2015).

Regarding participation in sport and exercise, a recent survey (Sport England, 2018) demonstrates a bottom-up PES position of 130,000 active 5-16-year olds between September 2017 and July 2018. A survey described as ‘phase 1’ by Sport England (2018) ‘specifically focuses on behaviours.’ The survey data highlights that 17.5% of the sample size were active for over 60 minutes every day, thus meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines on PES participation. Promisingly, 25.7% and 23.9% were involved in PES for an average of over 60 minutes (but not every day) and 30-59 minutes daily respectively.

Sport England (2018) proffers that ‘… attitudes towards sport and physical activity are often shaped by experiences in childhood attitudes towards sport.’ With this and the current statistics in mind, should society today direct the dispersal of ‘limited funding’ towards radically reshaping a culture of acceptance in the participation in PES? Specifically, should the funding for schools be ‘ring-fenced’ for PES, as opposed to that for academia? There are various influences on participation, whereby schools – moreover, a collective of highly trained experts – can be the ‘hub,’ ensuring inclusion of all levels of ability and interest.

To that end, a cross-functional team of experts (sports scientists, nutritionists, physios, coaches etc.) can be employed/deployed at countrywide ‘hubs’ to assess the ability of the children in a catchment area and guide them into participation based on their personal needs. The funding should come from Government and private sources (where appropriate) as a projected offset to the billions spent in the NHS on conditions related to non-participation in PES from an early age.

The position of sport in schools is often influenced by the perception of its importance. Sir Michael Wilshaw, an OFSTED Chief Inspector, describes how head teachers commonly view PE as an ‘optional extra’ (Paton, 2014). Attendance at the ‘hub’ should be part of the national curriculum, thus proactively focusing on sport.

This positivity towards sporting activity in schools, especially primary schools, is not only critical to positive mental health and wellbeing but also to the success of a country’s elite programme. The long-term athlete development model (Istvan el al, 2013) is used by numerous different sports organisations as a fundamental building block for sports development. A critical stage of the model is the FUNdamental stage. This is especially true in late specialisation sports such as athletics, combative sports, rowing and team sports (Balyi, N.D). This stage is often developed between the ages of 6 and 10 years, with schools providing an essential role. If a school has a negative view of sporting activity, this may pass on to the young people.

If sport is to become the foundation of culture and society and reap the benefits of better physical and mental health, and the benefit of providing the next generation of elite athletes, we must empower the next generation by using schools’ systems to provide a positive outlook on sports to young people. This will also provide infrastructure for country wide ‘hubs’ to provide a stepping stone between schools and ‘centres of excellence.

Reference List
Balyi, I, Way, R and Higgs, C. (2013) Long-Term Athlete Development, Champaign, IL, Human Kinetics.

Balyi, I. (n.d) FHS [Online]. Available at https://www.activeoxfordshire.org/uploads/long-term-athlete-development-article.pdf (Accessed 29th January 2019).

Bailey, R. (2006). ‘Physical Education and Sport in Schools: A Review of Benefits and Outcomes’. Journal of School Health October 2006, Vol. 76, No.8 d 2006, American School Health Association

Christopher, B. (2013) Psychology Today [Online]. Available at https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-athletes-way/201301/cortisol-why-the-stress-hormone-is-public-enemy-no-1 (Accessed 29th January 2019).

Glenn, S. (202) The Self-Esteem Workbook, Oakland, CA, New Harbinger.

Jenkin, M. (2015) ‘Fit for Learning’ [online] available at: theguardian.com [27th January 2019]

Mind (2016), Mind How to improve your wellbeing through physical activity and sport [Online]. Available at https://www.mind.org.uk/media/2976123/how-to-improve-your-wellbeing-through-physical-activity-and-sport.pdf (Accessed 29th January 2019).

Paton, G. (2014) ‘Ofsted: state school pupils ‘under-represented’ in top sport’, The Telegraph, [Online]. Available at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/10912704/Ofsted-state-school-pupils-under-represented-in-top-sport.html (Accessed 29th January 2019).

Sport England (2018). ‘Active lives children and young people survey academic year 2017/18’.

Talbot M. (2001). ‘The case for physical education’. In: Doll-Tepper G, Scoretz D, eds. World Summit on Physical Education. Berlin, Germany: ICSSPE; 2001:39-50.