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Aussie sporting icon marries in stunning private ceremony

<p>Cadel Evans has quietly tied the knot with Stefania Zandonella. </p> <p>After nine years together, the pair finally said "I do" in a stunning private ceremony in Mauritius earlier this month, with Zandonella confirming the news on social media this week.</p> <p>"Mr and Mrs Evans 👰 🤵‍♂️ 💍🏝️ 01.06.2024," she wrote on Instagram along with a photo of the newlyweds kissing on a pier. </p> <p>The bride wore a stunning low-cut gown, complete with a long, flowing veil, while Evans wore a light blue suit, with an open neck white shirt and corsage.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/C8ZWaH0ox8Q/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/C8ZWaH0ox8Q/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by STEFANIA Z. EVANS (@stefaniazandonella)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Evans, one of the three non-Europeans to have won the Tour de France, was previously married to Chiara Passerini for 10 years, before he confirmed their split in 2015. </p> <p>The former couple remained on good terms and share 12-year-old son, Robel, whom they adopted from Ethiopia when he was six months old.</p> <p>A few months after he announced his divorce, Evans and Zandonella started dating, and now they share two sons, five-year-old Aidan and three-year-old Blake.</p> <p>Zandonella also posted a series of photos on her Instagram stories to celebrate the moment. </p> <p>In one of the photos, her father was pictured walking her down the aisle during their beach ceremony. </p> <p>In another photo, the pair posed with their family, with beach ceremony under a marquee donning matching light blue shirts with beige pants. </p> <p>Rebel, was also part of the bridal party in Mauritius, and he donned a white shirt with beige pants. </p> <p>The photo of the newlyweds drew in a lot of congratulatory comments in both English and Italian.</p> <p>“So divine️. Simply bellissimo bella congratulations Mr and Mrs E,” wrote one person. </p> <p>“Congratulations you two — you looked stunning and so does Mauritius,” added another.</p> <p>“Absolutely beautiful photo. Once again, congratulations,” wrote a third. </p> <p><em><span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif;">Images: Instagram</span></em></p>

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Does hosting the Olympics, the World Cup or other major sports events really pay off?

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ivan-savin-678930">Ivan Savin</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/escp-business-school-813">ESCP Business School</a></em></p> <p>After a long battle, <a href="https://www.france24.com/en/europe/20240213-paris-booksellers-stay-olympics-macron-bouquiniste-france">Paris’s beloved <em>bouquinistes</em> will be staying put</a> this summer. The decision, announced on 13 February by the French government, came after considerable public backlash to the police prefecture’s original plan to move part of the iconic Seine booksellers elsewhere for the inauguration of the Olympics Games on 26 July.</p> <p>Meanwhile, less than six months away from the event, Parisians continue to grumble over a <a href="https://www.ouest-france.fr/jeux-olympiques/cest-aberrant-ce-maire-vient-dapprendre-que-sa-ville-accueillera-les-jeux-de-paris-ab1fa968-cfd1-11ee-89c0-6cefac77e04a">lack of consultations</a> with locals, warnings of <a href="https://www.rfi.fr/en/france/20231130-paris-vehicle-traffic-to-be-heavily-restricted-during-2024-olympic-games">gridlocked traffic</a>, closed metro stations, extensive video surveillance and other grievances. So for host countries, what was the point of the Olympics, again?</p> <p>In academia, the debate about the potential positive and negative effects of large-scale sporting events is ongoing. Although these events are often associated with substantial economic losses, the long-term benefits are the main argument in favour of hosting them. These include the development of material and soft infrastructure such as hotels, restaurants or parks. Big games can also help put the host region on the map as an attractive place for sports and cultural events, and inspire a better entrepreneurial climate.</p> <h2>The pros and the cons of big sporting events?</h2> <p>The cost of these benefits, as the Parisians have realised, is steep. Host countries appear to suffer from increased tax burdens, low returns on public investments, high construction costs, and onerous running cost of facilities after the event. Communities can also be blighted by noise, pollution, and damage to the environment, while increased criminal activity and potential conflicts between locals and visitors can take a toll on their quality of life. As a result, in the recent past several major cities, including Rome and Hamburg, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/6-cities-that-rejected-the-olympics/a-46289852">withdrew their bids to host the games</a>.</p> <p>A common feature of the economics of large-scale sporting events is that our expectations of them are more optimistic than what we make of them once they have taken place. Typically, expenditure tends to tip over the original budget, while the revenue-side indicators (such as the number of visitors) are rarely achieved.</p> <p>When analysing the effect of hosting large-scale sporting events on tourist visits, it is important to take into consideration both the positive and negative components of the overall effect. While positive effects may be associated with visitors, negative effects may arise when “regular” tourists refuse to visit the location due to the event. This might be because of overloaded infrastructure, sharp increases in accommodation costs, and inconveniences associated with overcrowding or raucous or/and violent visitors. On top of that, reports of poverty or crime in the global media can actually undermine the location’s attractiveness.</p> <h2>When big sporting events crowd out regular tourists</h2> <p>In an <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1527002523120639">article published in the <em>Journal of Sports Economics</em></a> with Igor Drapkin and Ilya Zverev, I assess the effects of hosting large-scale sporting events, such as Winter and Summer Olympics plus FIFA World Cups, on international tourist visits. We utilise a comprehensive dataset on flow of tourists covering the world’s largest destination and origin countries between 1995 and 2019. As a first step, we built an econometric model that effectively predicts the flow of tourists between any pair of countries in our data. Subsequently we compared the predicted tourist inflow in a hypothetical scenario where no large-scale sporting event would have taken place with the actual figures. If the actual figures exceed the predicted ones, we consider the event to have a net positive impact. Otherwise, we consider that it had a “crowding out” effect on “regular” tourists. While conducting this analysis, we distinguished between short-term (i.e., focusing just on the year of the event) and mid-term (year of the event plus three subsequent years).</p> <p>Our results show that the effects of large-scale sporting events vary a lot across host countries: The World Cup in Japan and South Korea 2002 and South Africa 2010 were associated with a distinct increase in tourist arrivals, whereas all other World Cups were either neutral or negative. Among the Summer Olympics, China in 2008 is the only case with a significant positive effect on tourist inflows. The effects of the other four events (Australia 2000, Greece 2004, Great Britain 2012, and Brazil 2016) were found to be negative in the short- and medium-term. As for the Winter Olympics, the only positive case is Russia in 2014. The remaining five events had a negative impact except the one-year neutral effect for Japan 1998.</p> <p>Following large-scale sporting events, host countries are therefore typically less visited by tourists. Out of the 18 hosting countries studied, 11 saw tourist numbers decline over four years, and three did not experience a significant change.</p> <h2>The case for cautious optimism</h2> <p>Our research indicates that the positive effect of hosting large-scale sporting events on tourist inflows is, at best, moderate. While many tourists are attracted by FIFA World Cups and Olympic games, the crowding-out effect of “regular” tourists is strong and often underestimated. This implies that tourists visiting for an event like the Olympics typically dissuade those who would have come for other reasons. Thus, efforts to attract new visitors should be accompanied by efforts to retain the already existing ones.</p> <p>Large-scale sporting events should be considered as part of a long-term policy for promoting a territory to tourists rather than a standalone solution. Revealingly, our results indicate that it is easier to get a net increase in tourist inflows in countries that are less frequent destinations for tourists – for example, those in Asia or Africa. By contrast, the United States and Europe, both of which are traditionally popular with tourists, have no single case of a net positive effect. Put differently, the large-scale sporting events in Asia and Africa helped promote their host countries as tourist destinations, making the case for the initial investment. In the US and Europe, however, those in the last few decades brought little return, at least in terms of tourist inflow.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222118/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ivan-savin-678930">Ivan Savin</a>, Associate professor of quantitative analytics, research fellow at ICTA-UAB, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/escp-business-school-813">ESCP Business School</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-hosting-the-olympics-the-world-cup-or-other-major-sports-events-really-pay-off-222118">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

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How much sport will you be able to watch for free under proposed new Australian broadcast rules?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-fujak-290599">Hunter Fujak</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-rowe-16403">David Rowe</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a></em></p> <p>Watching sport on television and other screens is integral to the <a href="https://researchdirect.westernsydney.edu.au/islandora/object/uws%3A57259">cultural lives of many Australians</a>.</p> <p>This is why, in 1995, the anti-siphoning scheme was introduced to ensure sport “<a href="http://www.tandfebooks.com/isbn/9780203758397">events of national importance and cultural significance</a>” would not be captured exclusively by pay TV at the expense of free-to-air coverage.</p> <p>There have been enormous <a href="https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9780429402265-5/television-tony-bennett-modesto-gayo-david-rowe-graeme-turner">changes in television</a> since and this analogue-era legislation is increasingly out of step with the modern digital media landscape.</p> <p>Critically, under current definitions, streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon fall outside a scheme restricting subscription broadcasters like Foxtel.</p> <p>The federal government <a href="https://anthonyalbanese.com.au/media-centre/labor-will-support-local-tv-free-sport-in-the-streaming-age">promised</a> before its election in 2022 to review the anti-siphoning scheme. Its subsequent <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/Bills_Search_Results/Result?bId=r7132">Communications Legislation Amendment (Prominence and Anti-siphoning) Bill 2023</a> is designed to close the “<a href="https://theconversation.com/streaming-platforms-will-soon-be-required-to-invest-more-in-australian-tv-and-films-which-could-be-good-news-for-our-screen-sector-198757">regulatory gap</a>” that has emerged within media law since Netflix’s launch in Australia in 2015.</p> <p>The Senate referred the bill to its Environment and Communications Legislation Committee. Its report has just been released and will help shape Australians’ access to sport media content.</p> <h2>The importance of prominence</h2> <p>“Prominence” refers to the discoverability of individual media applications, such as Netflix or 9Now, on the user homepage of smart televisions.</p> <p>The federal government is troubled by overseas services like YouTube and Amazon being immediately visible on smart televisions through commercial licensing agreements, effectively “burying” Australian free-to-air TV.</p> <p>Public service broadcaster SBS, for example, <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/anti-siphoning-prominence-laws-australia-free-to-air-tv-channels/87bc8ddd-4120-4542-864e-2c84a781411e">claimed</a> during Senate hearings that one television manufacturer demanded both a placement fee and a 15% share of revenue to feature on the television’s homepage.</p> <p>Prominence is crucial in sport because anti-siphoning legislation is based on the principle that, although in <a href="https://www.thenewdaily.com.au/finance/finance-news/2023/03/06/tv-habits-australia">general decline</a>, free-to-air TV is still the most effective, <a href="https://accan.org.au/files/Reports/ACCAN%20Research%20Snapshot%20How%20Australians%20Watch%20TV.pdf">low-cost, readily-accessed</a> vehicle for delivering premium sport to a majority of Australian households.</p> <h2>Anti-siphoning</h2> <p>While often criticised by <a href="https://www.infrastructure.gov.au/have-your-say/anti-siphoning-scheme-review">subscription media companies and many sports</a> as anti-competitive, anti-siphoning legislation is significantly responsible for the continued abundance of free major sport on our televisions.</p> <p>In a portent of the risks ahead, <a href="https://www.cricket.com.au/news/3807634/amazon-prime-video-secures-icc-broadcast-rights-in-australia-t20-odi-world-cup-world-test-championship-2024-27">International Cricket Council</a> World Cups will disappear from free-to-air television between 2024 and 2027, after the world governing body signed an exclusive four-year deal with streaming platform Amazon.</p> <p>The <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/sport/afl/afl-boss-flies-to-us-for-talks-with-media-companies-20220425-p5ag16.html">AFL</a> also reportedly met Amazon in 2022 as part of its media rights negotiations.</p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/regardless-of-the-rules-sport-is-fleeing-free-tv-for-pay-and-it-might-be-an-avalanche-154640">Loopholes</a> in the scheme are also being increasingly exploited. This problem was exposed in 2018 when <a href="https://www.cricket.com.au/news/3296093/tvs-antisiphon-list-and-cricket-explained">Australian one-day international cricket matches</a> went behind a paywall, despite being listed as free-to-air events.</p> <p>As <a href="https://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/streaming/nrl-calls-for-technologically-neutral-overhaul-to-sport-broadcasting/news-story/31fc06ab986e12c7e6f720df33d23ad1">Foxtel</a> told the Senate hearing, both Nine (Stan) and Ten (Paramount+) are now hybrid networks, able to move acquired sports from free-to-air broadcast to behind a streaming paywall.</p> <p>At present, free-to-air networks cannot be compelled to acquire the rights to any sport, broadcast them if they do, or refrain from on-selling them to a pay platform.</p> <h2>What are the implications for sport and other viewers?</h2> <p>The majority Senate report broadly supported the federal government’s existing <a href="https://minister.infrastructure.gov.au/rowland/media-release/exposure-draft-prominence-regulations-released">exposure draft</a>.</p> <p>Regarding prominence, this means free-to-air channel “tiles” will be highly visible when you turn on a new smart TV. A 12-month phased implementation of a prominence framework was recommended by the committee – and would only apply to new televisions.</p> <p>The committee also broadly accepted the draft bill’s anti-siphoning provisions, which will affect what and where sport is viewed by fans.</p> <p>First, the listed events will be expanded by 30% and incorporate more women’s and parasports. They include the AFLW and NRLW finals, NRLW State of Origin, and the Summer Paralympic Games.</p> <p>To provide counterbalancing benefits to subscription broadcasters, sport events not acquired by a free-to-air broadcaster will become more quickly available to subscription platforms (12 months before an event starts, rather than six months before). This provides subscription platforms with greater lead-in times to plan, organise and promote their content schedules.</p> <p>The most controversial recommendation related to the scope of anti-siphoning laws, affecting how Australian viewers can access sport in the medium term.</p> <p>It supported the government’s position, on grounds of excessive competitive advantage, that anti-siphoning should only apply to terrestrial broadcasting. This excludes digital rights for live streaming through broadcast video on demand apps such as 9Now, Seven+, iView and SBS On Demand.</p> <p>Commercial free-to-air broadcasters called this a “<a href="https://www.mediaweek.com.au/industry-reacts-to-prominence-and-anti-siphoning-findings/">nightmare scenario</a>”, as they <a href="https://www.freetv.com.au/access-to-local-tv-services-and-free-sport-under-threat-unless-laws-are-strengthened/">estimate</a> 50% of households will be watching TV online by 2027.</p> <p>For viewers without televisions connected to aerials, this could make major sport events on free-to-air TV unavailable. Although terrestrial TV is still the most <a href="https://intellectdiscover.com/content/journals/10.1386/jdmp_00098_1">universally available screen sport vehicle</a>, aerials are no longer routinely installed in new housing developments.</p> <p>Research by the <a href="https://www.acma.gov.au/television-research">Australian Communications and Media Authority</a>, though, indicates that free-to-air network claims about disappearing TV aerials are somewhat exaggerated. Nonetheless, as modernisation was a central justification for the anti-siphoning reforms, the strategic compromise over broadcast video on demand apps will inevitably be scrutinised.</p> <p>Notably, in a dissenting minority report, the Greens were unhappy the bill did not go far enough in either prominence or anti-siphoning. They reserved their right to reject it unless suitably amended to guarantee global corporations could not capture Australian sports rights.</p> <h2>What happens next?</h2> <p>The amended bill must pass through Parliament to become law, and its final shape and the fate of any amendments are as yet unknown.</p> <p>While it is widely, though not universally, acknowledged action is needed to protect free screen sport viewing, intense disagreement remains among competing interest groups over what is to be done now and in the future.</p> <p>To safeguard their viewing interests, Australian sport fans will need to watch these formidably technical debates as closely as their favourite sport contests.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/226499/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-fujak-290599">Hunter Fujak</a>, Senior Lecturer in Sport Management, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/david-rowe-16403">David Rowe</a>, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Research, Institute for Culture and Society, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/western-sydney-university-1092">Western Sydney University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-much-sport-will-you-be-able-to-watch-for-free-under-proposed-new-australian-broadcast-rules-226499">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Dreading footy season? You’re not alone – 20% of Australians are self-described sport haters

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-fujak-290599">Hunter Fujak</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/heath-mcdonald-92440">Heath McDonald</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p>With the winter AFL and NRL seasons about to start, Australia’s sporting calendar is once again transitioning from its quietest to busiest period.</p> <p>For many, the return of the AFL and NRL competitions is highly anticipated. But there is one group whose experience is very different: the approximately 20% of Australians who hate sport.</p> <p>We are currently conducting research to better understand why people feel this way about sport and what their experiences are like living in a nation where sport is so <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1329878x15616515">culturally central</a>. We have completed surveys with thousands of Australians and are now beginning to interview those who have described themselves as “sport haters”.</p> <h2>Australia, a ‘sports mad’ nation</h2> <p>Australia has long been described as a “<a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14660970902955588">sports mad nation</a>”, a reasonable assertion given the Melbourne Cup attracted crowds of <a href="https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/catalog/2178266">more than 100,000 people</a> as far back as the 1880s.</p> <p>Australia’s sport passion is perhaps most evident today from the number of professional teams we support for a nation of 26 million people, one of the highest per capita <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Heath-Mcdonald/publication/326140082_Are_Sport_Consumers_Unique_Consumer_Behavior_Within_Crowded_Sport_Markets/links/5e9465fd92851c2f529c4322/Are-Sport-Consumers-Unique-Consumer-Behavior-Within-Crowded-Sport-Markets.pdf">concentrations</a> in the world.</p> <p>In addition to our four distinct football codes – Australian rules football, rugby league, rugby union and soccer – we have professional netball, basketball, cricket and tennis. In all, there are more than <a href="https://www.clearinghouseforsport.gov.au/kb/structure-of-australian-sport">130 professional sport teams in Australia</a> today (across both genders).</p> <p>Australia also hosts – and Australians attend – major sport events at a rate wildly disproportionate to the size of our population and economy. <a href="https://www.blackbookmotorsport.com/news/f1-australian-grand-prix-record-crowd-melbourne-albert-park/">Formula One</a>, the <a href="https://ausopen.com/articles/news/record-breaking-australian-open-ao-2024-numbers">Australian Open</a>, the <a href="https://nbl.com.au/news/nbl-sets-new-season-attendance-record">National Basketball League</a>, the <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/sport/nrl/nrl-attendance-records-tumble-as-fans-flock-back-to-footy-20230902-p5e1ib.html">National Rugby League</a> and <a href="https://mumbrella.com.au/64-of-aussie-population-watched-matildas-new-deakin-research-claims-797902">Matildas</a> have all recently broken attendance or television viewership records.</p> <h2>Why people hate sport</h2> <p>The ubiquity of sport in our culture, however, conceals the fact that a significant portion of people strongly and actively dislike sport. Recent <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/14413523.2023.2233342">research</a> by one of the co-authors here (Heath McDonald) has begun to shine light on this cohort, dubbed “sport haters”.</p> <p>Sport haters account for approximately 20% of the Australian population, according to two surveys we have conducted of nearly 3,500 and more than 27,000 adults. Demographically, this group is significantly more likely to be female, younger and more affluent than other Australians.</p> <p>Their strong negative sentiments are reflected in the most common word associations <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/14413523.2023.2233342">study participants</a> used to describe sport. In the case of AFL, these were: “boring”, “overpaid”, “stupid/dumb”, “rough”, “scandal” and “alcohol”.</p> <p>While the reasons for disliking sport vary from person to person, research shows there are some common themes. The first is in childhood, where negative experiences participating in sport or attending games or matches can lead to a life-long dislike of all sport. As one professed sport hater said in an <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/AskMen/comments/1zxfyt/guys_who_do_not_like_sports_can_you_explain_why/">online forum devoted to men who don’t like sport</a>: "My brother would force me to play soccer against my will all the time as children. I think that is where my resentment for physical sport comes from because the choice was taken away from me by my twat of a brother."</p> <p>Sport hatred can also derive from social exclusion or marginalisation. Sport has historically been a male-centric domain that <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0277539587900525">celebrates</a> masculinity and can lead to <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-20/taylor-swift-effect-sports-fandom-nfl/103486274">toxic behaviour</a>, which can exclude many women and some men.</p> <p>Sport has also had to overcome racism, perhaps most symbolically visible by AFL player Nicky Winmar’s <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-04-17/nicky-winmar-indigenous-afl-racism-anniversary/102222960">iconic protest</a> in 1993. In addition, individuals with a disability still face <a href="https://www.sportaus.gov.au/integrity_in_sport/inclusive-sport/understanding-our-diverse-audiences/people-with-disability#:%7E:text=People%20with%20disability%20receive%20the,than%20adults%20who%20don't.">barriers</a> that result in lower rates of sport participation.</p> <p>Here, the current <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-20/taylor-swift-effect-sports-fandom-nfl/103486274">Taylor Swift effect</a> is noteworthy. The singer’s attendance at National Football League games, including the Superbowl, resulted in huge spikes in television viewership. Through her association, Swift helped make the sport more <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S096969892300317X#bib122">psychologically accessible</a> for many women and girls.</p> <p>The <a href="https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&amp;lr=&amp;id=AvjrDwAAQBAJ&amp;oi=fnd&amp;pg=PT125&amp;dq=Contesting+national+Culture&amp;ots=1_lQuBpKK7&amp;sig=dMb-5s0PgpUumUTSFeEKZiNq0dg#v=onepage&amp;q=Contesting%20national%20Culture&amp;f=false">cultural dominance</a> of sport also fuels its detractors, with many critical of sport’s media saturation and its broader social and even political prioritisation. (The <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-02-16/macquarie-point-stadium-dominates-election-campaign-day-one/103473124">debate in Tasmania</a> over the controversial AFL stadium proposal is a good case in point.)</p> <p>From a media perspective, Australia’s particularly strict <a href="https://theconversation.com/regardless-of-the-rules-sport-is-fleeing-free-tv-for-pay-and-it-might-be-an-avalanche-154640">anti-siphoning</a> laws have ensured that sport remains front and centre on free-to-air television programming.</p> <p>Sport’s cultural dominance also fosters resentment for overshadowing people’s non-sporting passions and pursuits, as well as creating societal out-groups. Journalist Jo Chandler’s <a href="https://libraryedition.smedia.com.au/lib_a/Default.aspx#panel=document">2010</a> description of moving to Melbourne is no doubt shared by many: "In the workplace, to be unaligned is deeply isolating. Team tribalism infects meetings, especially when overseen by male chiefs. In shameful desperation, I’ve played along."</p> <p>In life, it’s fairly easy to avoid most products you might dislike. But given sport’s ubiquity, simply tuning out is sometimes not an option.</p> <h2>The Anti-Football League, a club for haters</h2> <p>In 1967, two Melbourne journalists, Keith Dunstan and Douglas Wilkie, launched an anti-sport club in response to this growing cultural dominance. In his founding address to the <a href="https://www.academia.edu/7584522/Football_is_a_Fever_Disease_Like_Recurrent_Malaria_and_Evidently_Incurable_Passion_Place_and_the_Emergence_of_an_Australian_Anti_Football_League">Anti-Football League</a>, Wilkie made clear who the club was for: "All of us who are tired of having football personalities, predictions and post mortems cluttering our newspapers, TV screens and attempts at alternative human converse – from beginning-of-morning prayers to the last trickle of bed time bathwater – should join at once."</p> <p>Membership quickly reached the thousands. Soon, a Sydney branch was launched, bringing national membership to a high of around 7,000. According to sport historian Matthew Klugman, members found joy in being “haters”.</p> <p>"…they wanted to find a shared meaning in their suffering, not to extinguish it, but to better enjoy it."</p> <p>This led to some curious rituals, with members ceremonially cremating footballs or burying them. An Anti-Football Day was also launched, taking place on the eve of the Victorian Football League Grand Final.</p> <p>The club would go on to experience periods of both prosperity and hiatus over the years, but has been dormant since <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/vale-keith-dunstan-gentle-footy-hater-cyclist-and-master-of-words-20130911-2tklh.html">Dunstan’s death</a> in 2013.</p> <p>With eight more years to go in Australia’s so-called “<a href="https://this.deakin.edu.au/career/golden-decade-of-sport-ahead-for-australia">golden decade of sport</a>”, which began with <a href="https://www.fiba.basketball/womensbasketballworldcup/2022">2022 Women’s Basketball World Cup in Sydney</a> and culminates with the 2032 Brisbane Olympics, it may be time sport haters to start a new support group.</p> <p>If you consider yourself a sport hater, and are interested in contributing your experience to our ongoing research, please provide your contact information <a href="https://researchsurveys.deakin.edu.au/jfe/form/SV_a4CqHyqipjYj5SC">here</a>.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/223733/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-fujak-290599"><em>Hunter Fujak</em></a><em>, Senior Lecturer in Sport Management, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/heath-mcdonald-92440">Heath McDonald</a>, Dean of Economics, Finance and Marketing and Professor of Marketing, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/dreading-footy-season-youre-not-alone-20-of-australians-are-self-described-sport-haters-223733">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Sports journalist dies during Australian Open broadcast

<p dir="ltr">Renowned sports journalist Mike Dickson has passed away while reporting on the Australian Open. </p> <p dir="ltr">The father-of-three was just 10 days away from celebrating his 60th birthday when he collapsed on Wednesday, with his heartbroken family confirming the news of his passing. </p> <p dir="ltr">“We are devastated to announce that our wonderful husband and Dad, Mike, has collapsed and died while in Melbourne for the Aus Open,” his wife Lucy wrote, also attributing the statement to their children Sam, Lucy and Joe.</p> <p dir="ltr">“For 38 years he lived his dream covering sport all over the world. He was a truly great man and we will miss him terribly.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Australian Open organisers said tournament officials were shocked by the news of the popular journalist.</p> <p dir="ltr">"We are shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Mike, our long-standing colleague and friend. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family," the organisation said on X.</p> <p dir="ltr">The UK Daily Mail reporter’s passing has led to scores of tributes including from tennis greats such as Tim Henman and the organisers of the US Open and Wimbledon.</p> <p dir="ltr">The organisers of Wimbledon said it was “deeply saddened” by Mr Dickson’s death. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Mike covered so many of our Championships during his remarkable career in journalism and brought so many stories to so many sports fans around the world.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The US Open said he was “one of the most well respected journalists in the industry,” while the World Tennis Association said Mr Dickson was a “highly respected figure on Tour among players, coaches, staff and everyone connected with tennis”.</p> <p dir="ltr">British tennis player Tim Henman held back tears on TV when discussing Mr Dickson, saying, “It’s incredibly sad that he passed away in Melbourne. He was a great friend of the tennis community”.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p> </p>

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Connection, camaraderie and belonging: why the Matildas could be making you a sports fan for the very first time

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sarah-tillott-1462234">Sarah Tillott</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/diarmuid-hurley-1462235">Diarmuid Hurley</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em></p> <p>With over seven million Australians hooked onto the world cup viewing, many who have never really been interested in sports have recently found themselves screaming at the TV, cheering in pubs and hugging complete strangers.</p> <p>Have you found yourself in this new legion of sports fans, and wondering how you got here?</p> <p>It is likely down to many factors. There is of course the incredible talent on display, the <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/world-cup-2023-matildas-captain-sam-kerr-gives-prized-gameworn-top-to-young-fan/b9e35f75-6d11-4148-af3a-ac3cd0c95c0c">kindness</a> players are showing on and off the field, and women and girls relating to players <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-08-15/matildas-world-cup-sam-kerr-mary-fowler-inspire-diverse-fans/102713288">who look like them</a>.</p> <p>But it is also to do with the visibility and exposure of the game; the influence of our families and friends; the ways we are hardwired for connection; and the addictive nature of neurotransmitters.</p> <p>Like many Australians, we will be sure to not miss tonight’s game when Australia plays England in the semifinal – but first, here’s a look at all of these new emotions you may be experiencing.</p> <h2>The social contagion</h2> <p>With Australia as a host nation – and the incredible success of the Matildas – there has never been more visibility and focus on women’s football in Australia.</p> <p>Positive emotions and behaviours are contagious. Psychologists refer to “<a href="https://positivepsychology.com/emotional-contagion/">emotional contagion</a>” or “social contagion”, which describes how emotions, attitudes and behaviours spread through groups and crowds.</p> <p>In general, people just want to feel good! We enhance that feeling by forming positive social connections with other humans, sharing in a common experience, having a common goal and putting aside our differences.</p> <p>Being on the same side means we have something to share and celebrate in and, more importantly, someone to do it with.</p> <p>You’re likely feeling like you are part of something greater, and that has us all reaching for more by getting together to watch the next game.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">This. Is. Football. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/matildas?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#matildas</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/tilitsdone?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#tilitsdone</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FIFAWWC?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FIFAWWC</a> <a href="https://t.co/guLoCdIGpv">pic.twitter.com/guLoCdIGpv</a></p> <p>— Mikey Mkoka-Nicholson (@Mikey_Nicholson) <a href="https://twitter.com/Mikey_Nicholson/status/1690322529024720896?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 12, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p>Another reason you might find yourself getting behind the world cup is everyone loves a good story – and this competition has them in spades.</p> <p>This world cup has had its share of ups and downs: superstar Sam Kerr’s injury; the crushing low of defeat to Nigeria; the high of the must-win-game against Canada; the electric edge-of-your-seat drama of the penalty shootout against France.</p> <p>We all share in these highs and lows.</p> <p>Sports can help <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11110513">create positive social cohesion</a> by bringing people together. There is something very comforting about winning or losing as a group - whatever the result, we aren’t doing it alone!</p> <p>Sports <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-sport-can-break-down_b_7927724">breaks down barriers</a>, forms <a href="https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci11110513">pro-social bonds</a> and <a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/02/north-and-south-korea-have-shown-us-the-unifying-power-of-sport/">helps people unite</a> through a common goal. We get lost and escape into a world of togetherness, which feels great!</p> <p>The ability to laugh, cry or hold hands with people (both strangers and friends) in nervous moments is felt deep in our body. It is undeniable, palpable and reinforces our connectivity. These heightened emotions fast track our sense of belonging to a group.</p> <p>Meanwhile, there is something very primitive going on deep in the brain that may explain this phenomenon.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Goosebumps.</p> <p>From all corners of the country 🫶🇦🇺<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Matildas?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Matildas</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FIFAWWC?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FIFAWWC</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TilitsDone?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TilitsDone</a> <a href="https://t.co/ERIusC7HEZ">pic.twitter.com/ERIusC7HEZ</a></p> <p>— CommBank Matildas (@TheMatildas) <a href="https://twitter.com/TheMatildas/status/1690657319527600128?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 13, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p>Our brains <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-we-are-wired-to-connect/">are wired</a> to work in groups or tribes. Historically, working together towards a common goal improved our ability to survive.</p> <p>In a contemporary setting, when we belong to groups we unite through the notion of achieving a common vision. The “self” blends with the social. We evaluate our environment and look for links of commonality to achieve social harmony.</p> <p>This comes back to the notion of feeling good. When you are sharing a sporting event – watching together or talking about it after – you are sharing a safe space you can relate, engage and belong to.</p> <h2>Shared experiences</h2> <p>The reality of what sports can do to unite and change the way we connect is palpable through this world cup.</p> <p>We are all sharing a common experience which enables us to talk to complete strangers at the bus stop, on the train and when we are ordering our coffees at the local café.</p> <p>This shared experience enables us the confidence to strike up new conversations: sharing our pride, our fears and our emotions.</p> <p>We fast track our connections with people through sharing our vulnerabilities. Connections that could generally take years to form are happening in seconds. The moments to form those connections are more frequent as the success of our team continues.</p> <p>Matilda’s defender Claire Hunt <a href="https://www.matildas.com.au/video/230810huntpresser">spoke</a> of the collective belief the team has in their abilities. This collective belief has spread out from the team and their diehard supporters to become a source of national pride.</p> <h2>We belong</h2> <p>Sports creates a connection to something greater than yourself, an ability to ride the highs and lows of a team as you journey with them for the entire match!</p> <p>Notice the feeling of your heart beating through your chest (and that feedback coming through your smart watch as the high pulse rate alert is screaming at you!); feeling like you want to vomit and cry from the anticipation; the <a href="https://www.apa.org/monitor/oct05/mirror">tensing of your muscles</a> during every attempt at goal.</p> <p>Through Australia’s collective love, support and excitement behind the Matildas, we are in the process of forming our identity and becoming part of a family.</p> <p>We relate to people, we connect to people, we belong.</p> <p>These feelings have powerful effects on our wellbeing. Belonging <a href="https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9780203148211-19/role-emotion-engagement-coping-development-motivational-resilience-ellen-skinner-jennifer-pitzer-heather-brule">enhances self-esteem</a>, improves <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167213499186">psychological and behavioural functioning</a>, and improves <a href="https://psychology.org.au/for-members/publications/inpsych/2019/june/making-sense-of-belonging">the quality and meaning</a> of our lives.</p> <p>As our energy starts to rise, we begin to release <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/happy-hormone">positive endorphins</a> such as serotonin, dopamine and adrenaline. Dopamine <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/dopamine-the-pathway-to-pleasure">enhances</a> our feelings of pleasure, satisfaction and motivation. Adrenaline <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health/adrenaline-junkie">makes you feel alive</a>. These neurotransmitters increase our sense of wellbeing.</p> <p>They are addictive and we are left feeling that we want more.</p> <p>Even as a newly minted fan, you are now part of the Matilda’s family and they’re counting on the Aussie social contagion to push through those cramping muscles, tired bodies and sweaty palms.</p> <p>You are about to be a part of history and those neurotransmitters won’t want to miss it for the world!<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/211526/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sarah-tillott-1462234">Sarah Tillott</a>, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/diarmuid-hurley-1462235">Diarmuid Hurley</a>, Lecturer, Faculty of Health, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/southern-cross-university-1160">Southern Cross University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/connection-camaraderie-and-belonging-why-the-matildas-could-be-making-you-a-sports-fan-for-the-very-first-time-211526">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Matildas smash TV viewer records for the first time in a decade

<p>On Saturday night, many households around the nation joined together and held their breath as The Matildas took on France in an epic showdown for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.</p> <p>The game had an audience of millions around the country, as people watched the nail-biting event live and free on Channel 7 and 7plus to set all kinds of staggering TV records. </p> <p>Australia has been swept up in the fever of the Women's World Cup, with each game boasting more and more fans, with millions of people, including the not-so sports inclined, showing up in a display of solidarity for women's sport. </p> <p>Many accommodations were made for the match against France, the Channel 7 pushing their nightly news broadcast, and countless live streaming sites set up around the country for sports fans to gather together and watch the showdown in real time. </p> <p>As a result, Seven has revealed that the game delivered “the highest rating TV sport program of the past decade”.</p> <p>The last time the Matildas stepped out, for the 2-0 win over Denmark, their TV numbers eclipsed last year’s AFL and NRL grand finals, and all of this year’s State of Origin battles in rugby league and reality TV shows.</p> <p>Now, Seven’s “preliminary data” shows that the epic battle with France was watched by a whopping 7.2 million people (on both Seven and 7plus) with an estimated average audience during the game of 4.17 million.</p> <p>The game’s adjusted average audience of 4.17 million included a national broadcast audience of 3.69 million viewers on Seven (2.62 million in the capital cities) plus 472,000 viewers on 7plus.</p> <p>“It is the No.1 TV program of the year,” Seven said in a statement.</p> <p>“The 472,000 viewers on 7plus makes the Matildas v France game the biggest streaming event ever seen in Australia.”</p> <p>Overall, Seven’s coverage of the World Cup has now reached 11.9 million broadcast viewers plus another 2.3 million on 7plus.</p> <p>Seven’s Melbourne director and head of sport, Lewis Martin, said, “Australia partied yesterday as the Matildas did us proud. The nation gathered around the screens of Seven to cheer on our latest sporting heroes, in an amazing, shared experience that only Seven can deliver.</p> <p>“The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 has brought Australia together in a way we haven’t seen for years."</p> <p>Australia beat France in the epic battle on Saturday, after The Matildas had the nation on the collective edge of their seats before dominating in a tense 7-6 penalty shootout. </p> <p>The Matildas will now take on England in the semi-finals on Wednesday night, in a match that is sure to break TV viewing records all over again. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Sports presenter slammed over "Barbie" comments

<p>The BBC has issued a statement after a cringeworthy interview with a sports presenter went viral. </p> <p>Chris Hughes, a former <em>Love Island</em> contestant, was chatting to Aussie cricketer Maitlan Brown during Southern Brave's match in The Hundred.</p> <p>As the interview began, Hughes referred to Brown as a "batsman", with the rest of the interview only going downhill from there. </p> <p>Hughes then asked how Brown had been settling in and bonding with her teammates. </p> <p>"We watched Barbie the other night all together and it was really good team bonding and the group is gelling really well together," Brown replied.</p> <p>Hughes then quipped back, "You're a little Barbie yourself, aren't you, with your blue eyes."</p> <p>As Brown laughed awkwardly, Hughes added, "She's blushing now."</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The absolute state of this <a href="https://twitter.com/BBCSport?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BBCSport</a> </p> <p>"Batsman"</p> <p>"You're a bit of a Barbie yourself"</p> <p>So much great young journalistic cricket talent in the UK, and you hire that clown <a href="https://twitter.com/chrishughes_22?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@chrishughes_22</a>, because demographics, innit <a href="https://t.co/f7FwAtQjR9">pic.twitter.com/f7FwAtQjR9</a></p> <p>— Always Look On The Bright Cider Life 🍎🏏🍎🏏🍎 (@somersetpodcast) <a href="https://twitter.com/somersetpodcast/status/1686411647903006720?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 1, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p>Since the interview, Hughes has copped criticism on social media with the BCC stating they have addressed the issue with him.</p> <p>"We have spoken to Chris and explained that his comment was not appropriate," a BBC spokesperson said.</p> <p>Hughes has been the subject of an online slating since the interview, with many criticising his comments and wondering how he even landed the gig in the first place. </p> <p>One person wrote on Twitter, "This is what happens when you get a Love Islander to present cricket... Oh dear."</p> <p>"Whether Chris Hughes made the Barbie remark yesterday with the intention to belittle or embarrass Maitlan Brown or not is irrelevant. As is whether Brown in fact took offense to it. The effect and imagery was the same," another commented.</p> <p><em>Image credits: BBC</em></p>

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Does a woman’s menstrual cycle affect her athletic performance? Here’s what the science says

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sara-chica-latorre-1443479">Sara Chica-Latorre</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865">University of Canberra</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-pengelly-1443674">Michael Pengelly</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865">University of Canberra</a></em></p> <p>During the Women’s FIFA World Cup, it has been wonderful to see the spotlight turn to female athletes.</p> <p>There’s always been <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24766579/">more research on male athletes</a> compared to female athletes, but the gap is narrowing.</p> <p>One thing we still don’t know enough about is the effect of the menstrual cycle on athletic performance.</p> <h2>What does the menstrual cycle do to a woman’s body?</h2> <p>The menstrual cycle is a complex cascade of events typically lasting 28 days. The primary female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone rise and fall as the body cycles through four phases, beginning at menstruation, maturation and releasing of an egg (ovulation), preparation for pregnancy, and restarting the cycle if the egg is not fertilised.</p> <p>Fluctuations in female sex hormones have been associated with changes in inflammation, metabolism, muscle activation and body composition, which <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33572406/">can influence athletic performance</a>.</p> <p>For instance, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22306563/">inflammation decreases</a> when the body is preparing to ovulate, reaching its lowest point around ovulation. It then increases following ovulation and peaks during menstruation.</p> <p>This peak coincides with lower perceived performance among many female athletes.</p> <p>The menstrual cycle can also give rise to symptoms including pain, cramps, weakness, and poor sleep and focus, <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35911030/">challenging performance</a> during training and competition.</p> <p>For example, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/24733938.2021.2020330">research</a> conducted in elite female soccer players found over 87% of players perceived reduced power and increased fatigue during menstruation, while over 66% perceived their reaction time and recovery to be affected.</p> <p>Considering the approximate maximum career length of soccer players (21 years) and a woman’s fertile life, that adds up to about 250 times throughout a woman’s soccer career that performance may be compromised.</p> <p>Trends observed among female soccer players closely mirror the experiences of other female athletes, with over <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37389782/#:%7E:text=Results%3A%20Sixty%20studies%20involving%206380,the%20most%20prevalent%20MC%20disorder">74% reporting</a> negative effects mainly during the first days of menstruation.</p> <p>For some, this may lead to reduced training participation, potentially compromising skill development, fitness levels, and even their chances of being selected for competition.</p> <p>But the menstrual cycle is complex, and its effects can vary between athletes and sports. Consequently there is disagreement regarding whether the menstrual cycle universally affects athletic performance, with <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10076834/#:%7E:text=Findings%20suggest%20that%20strength%2Drelated,cause%20variations%20in%20strength%20performance">some research</a> <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32661839/">indicating</a> no influence of the menstrual cycle on certain performance measures. But these studies are few and had various logistical limitations, including a small number of participants.</p> <p>Also important to note is that most studies to-date have excluded women using hormonal contraceptives, which is about <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29283683/">50% of female athletes</a> and <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35475746/#:%7E:text=Conclusion%3A%20Most%20WSL%20players%20do,minimise%20discomfort%20and%20maximise%20performance.">28% of female soccer players</a>. The use of hormonal contraceptives suppresses natural hormonal fluctuations and replaces them with external synthetic versions of female sex hormones, affecting the athlete differently.</p> <p>Clearly the extent and severity to which the menstrual cycle impacts athletic performance is highly variable and complex, with more research needed. So for now it’s sensible to consider the effects of the menstrual cycle on an individual basis.</p> <h2>How to support athletic performance at all cycle stages</h2> <p>It’s essential for players to familiarise themselves with their own cycles to understand how they’re affected throughout, as well as communicate any menstrual cycle-related issues to support staff (physicians and coaches). This awareness can guide adjustments in training and nutrition when required.</p> <p>For example, oestrogen has an important influence on iron levels in females, such as chronic oestrogen deficiency is <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23041085/">linked to iron deficiency</a>. Iron status can also be compromised by blood loss during menstruation, depending on the heaviness and duration of bleeding.</p> <p>Iron is essential for human function, facilitating energy production and the transportation of oxygen around the body. In soccer, about <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16521852/#:%7E:text=Of%20the%20investigated%20female%20soccer,at%20the%20top%20international%20level">60% of elite female players</a> present as iron deficient, compared to <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18384395/">less than 12% of their male counterparts</a>. For an iron deficient midfielder, this might translate into covering less distance at lower speeds.</p> <p>It’s therefore important female athletes have their iron levels regularly checked by qualified practitioners. Addressing deficiencies through diet, supplementation, or iron transfusions, will ensure athletic performance during training and competition is not compromised.</p> <p>Individual athletes’ training loads can also be strategically managed to accommodate severe menstrual symptoms.</p> <p>Football clubs around the world have been <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/24733938.2020.1828615">experimenting with this strategy</a> since it gained popularity during the 2019 Women’s FIFA World Cup. But how does it look in practice?</p> <p>For team sport athletes, such as soccer players, this can be a demanding logistical task. It’s not easy to track the menstrual cycles of more than 25 players concurrently, and hold training sessions at convenient times for all of them. The complexities are heightened when training and game days cannot be avoided.</p> <p>But performance coaches must consider athletes’ needs and ensure they’re prepared for competition, while minimising the risk of injury and menstrual discomfort. Coaches should also ensure athletes maintain adequate nutrition for both competition and to support their menstrual cycle.</p> <p>For an athlete who reports severe menstrual symptoms during the first days of menstruation (such as increased pain and weakness), this might translate into reduced training intensity, additional recovery days, and an anti-inflammatory diet that also supports the restoration of iron levels (increased intake of nuts, seeds, berries, lean red meats, and fibre and Omega-3 rich foods).</p> <p>And it’s important to keep in mind some athletes might experience menstrual cycle issues in phases other than menstruation. So, training and nutrition should be flexible and individualised across the cycle.</p> <p>Using this approach, athletes can mitigate the influence of the menstrual cycle on their performance, giving them the best opportunity to achieve their athletic potential and success during competition.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/206700/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sara-chica-latorre-1443479">Sara Chica-Latorre</a>, Phd Candidate and Research Assistant, Research Institute for Sport and Exercise, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865">University of Canberra</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-pengelly-1443674">Michael Pengelly</a>, PhD Candidate, Research Institute for Sport and Exercise, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-canberra-865">University of Canberra</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/does-a-womans-menstrual-cycle-affect-her-athletic-performance-heres-what-the-science-says-206700">original article</a>.</em></p>

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‘Existential questions’: is this the beginning of the end of the Commonwealth Games?

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-fujak-290599">Hunter Fujak</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/damien-whitburn-1455572">Damien Whitburn</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p>Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Tuesday that the Victorian government has withdrawn from its commitment to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games, citing an anticipated cost blowout from an original estimate of A$2.6 billion to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2023/jul/18/australia-commonwealth-games-2026-victoria-cancels-event-after-funding-shortfall">over $6-$7 billion</a>.</p> <p>Commonwealth Games Australia chief executive Craig Phillips described the decision as “beyond disappointing”. Phillips questions the government’s figures, <a href="https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/2023/07/18/commonwealth-games-federation/">saying that the</a> cost of running the Gold Coast event in 2018 was $1.2 billion and the 2022 Birmingham Games was $1.8 billion.</p> <p>The government said existing funding set aside for the games will remain invested in regional projects intended to create an event “legacy”.</p> <p>Aside from the viability of the 2026 event, Victoria pulling out of hosting the event raises the broader question of whether the Commonwealth Games will survive.</p> <h2>How has this happened?</h2> <p>Victoria secured the Commonwealth Games in April 2022 with a unique multi-region model that sought to bring the event to regional Victoria.</p> <p>Despite the obvious risks and costs associated with decentralising a major event away from pre-existing infrastructure in Melbourne, Andrews <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/victoria-confirms-bid-for-2026-commonwealth-games-20220216-p59wvp.html">noted</a> at bid submission that "Victoria is Australia’s sporting state, and, if awarded the 2026 Commonwealth Games would demonstrate to the world a new way to deliver the competition."</p> <p>Andrews made clear the decision to withdraw was entirely financial, stating that the new estimated cost of potentially over $7 billion “does not represent value for money”.</p> <p>When pressed at his media conference to provide accountability as to how his government’s costing could have been so grossly inaccurate, Andrews said that certain event costs were unforeseeable.</p> <p>"What could not be reasonably foreseen, and was not foreseen, was the costs incurred in terms of services, security, transport […] there were estimates that were made and those estimates are clearly well and truly under the actual cost."</p> <p>The Commonwealth Games Federation and Commonwealth Games Australia dispute these costs estimates. They <a href="https://www.commonwealthsport.com/news/3594069/response-to-victoria-government-2026-commonwealth-game-host-withdrawal">signalled</a> the blame for any cost overruns lies with the Victorian government.</p> <p>"The numbers quoted to us today of $6 billion are 50% more than those advised to the Organising Committee board at its meeting in June."</p> <p>:Since awarding Victoria the Games, the Government has made decisions to include more sports and an additional regional hub, and changed plans for venues, all of which have added considerable expense, often against the advice of the Commonwealth Games Federation and Commonwealth Games Australia."</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Bit of a long one this morning.</p> <p>You might have heard the news this morning that Victoria will no longer be hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games.</p> <p>And I wanted to tell you about the decision.</p> <p>— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) <a href="https://twitter.com/DanielAndrewsMP/status/1681087774110384128?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 17, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <h2>The implications</h2> <p>The decision to withdraw from hosting the event will still incur costs. This includes pre-existing costs related to staffing contracts, renting premises and marketing, as well as to-be-determined contractual break costs as negotiated with the Commonwealth Games Federation.</p> <p>The financial costs of the withdrawal, however, may pale against the longer-term reputational damage done to Victoria and perhaps Australia more broadly.</p> <p>This decision may also damage Andrews’ reputation. In proposing an untested regional games delivery model, it was incumbent on the government to adopt a particularly rigorous process to ensure the the event’s viability, which does not appear to have been done.</p> <h2>Is Victoria still Australia’s ‘sporting capital’?</h2> <p>Victoria has long proclaimed itself Australia’s (and even the world’s) <a href="https://search.informit.org/doi/abs/10.3316/INFORMIT.143058285756777">sporting capital</a>. The state has developed an unparalleled portfolio of major sport events since the 1980s, and become a global exemplar in executing major events in the process.</p> <p>But withdrawing from the 2026 Commonwealth Games arguably represents Australia’s most prominent sporting failure of the past half-century, and is a significant reputational blow to Victoria’s sporting pre-eminence.</p> <p>What’s more, in an <a href="https://inqld.com.au/news/2023/07/12/take-that-melbourne-brisbane-now-rated-as-australias-sports-capital/">annual global ranking of sport cities</a> published last month, before the Commonwealth Games decision, Brisbane (15th) leapfrogged Melbourne (23rd) and Sydney (44th) to become Australia’s top ranked.</p> <p>Brisbane’s success isn’t only attributable to its impending hosting of the 2032 Olympics. Its ranking also recognises that the FIFA Women’s World Cup is being played predominantly in the north-east Australian states due to <a href="https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/sport/soccer/not-a-realistic-option-why-the-matildas-aren-t-playing-at-the-mcg-20230717-p5doxk.html">stadium challenges</a> associated with <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/football/2021/dec/03/melbourne-falls-short-in-womens-world-cup-venue-allocation">AFL-orientated</a> Victoria.</p> <p>Meanwhile, South Australia’s recent sporting successes include the hosting of <a href="https://www.afl.com.au/news/906620/afl-to-gather-round-again-in-sa-for-next-three-years">AFL Gather Round</a>, LIV Golf and recent procurement of the <a href="https://supernetball.com.au/news/location-2024-ssn-grand-final-revealed#:%7E:text=Adelaide%20will%20host%20the%202024,at%20the%20Adelaide%20Entertainment%20Centre.">2024 Super Netball</a> final from Victoria.</p> <p>Victoria’s grip on the “sports capital” title is increasingly tenuous.</p> <h2>The end of the Commonwealth Games?</h2> <p>Perhaps the most critical question is the viability not only of the 2026 Games, but also the broader Commonwealth Games movement.</p> <p>Victoria’s withdrawal continues a trend of recent instability. In 2017, the South African city of <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-games-commonwealth-durban-idUSKBN16K1UN">Durban</a> was stripped of 2022 hosting rights for a failure to meet key obligations around governance, venues and funding.</p> <p>However, whereas the Commonwealth Games Federation had just under 2,000 days to secure a replacement host for 2022, Victoria’s withdrawal has occurred only 973 days prior to the start of the event.</p> <p>The movement’s broader existence is perilous given there’s a shrinking pool of host cities. Victoria was the <a href="https://www.theage.com.au/sport/melbourne-set-to-step-into-breach-as-2026-commonwealth-games-host-city-20220118-p59p6r.html">only formal applicant</a> for the 2026 edition.</p> <p>This is a challenge faced by large sporting events more broadly, with potential applicants <a href="https://www.routledge.com/Sport-Management-in-Australia-Organisation-Development-and-Global-Perspectives/Karg-Shilbury-Phillips-Rowe-Fujak/p/book/9781032330242?_ga=1233395845.1684800000">increasingly wary</a> of the significant costs.</p> <p>Even the summer and winter Olympic Games have increasingly struggled to attract applicants. This resulted in the <a href="https://olympics.com/ioc/2024-2028-host-city-election">unprecedented</a> move to simultaneously award the 2024 and 2028 summer games to Paris and Los Angeles in 2017 – normally the summer games are awarded to one city at a time.</p> <p>With seemingly little global appetite to host the event, and broader cultural discussions in Australia and abroad surrounding the role of the monarchy, existential questions surround the Commonwealth Games movement.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/209961/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/hunter-fujak-290599">Hunter Fujak</a>, Lecturer in Sport Management, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/damien-whitburn-1455572">Damien Whitburn</a>, Lecturer, Sport Management, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/deakin-university-757">Deakin University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/existential-questions-is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-of-the-commonwealth-games-209961">original article</a>.</em></p>

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"Gross exaggeration": Sporting officials slam Dan Andrew's Comm Games spending

<p>Dan Andrews has been the subject of a blistering attack by sporting officials just hours after announcing the 2026 Commonwealth Games would not go ahead. </p> <p>The Victorian premier broke the news in a press conference on Tuesday, saying the <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/finance/money-banking/i-m-not-here-to-apologise-dan-andrews-fires-up-as-comm-games-is-scrapped" target="_blank" rel="noopener">event has been cancelled</a> due to ongoing funding issues. </p> <p>He shared that the event, which was due to be held in numerous regional Victorian towns and was first expected to cost $2.6 billion, would now blow the budget out to a whopping $7 billion. </p> <p>However, following Andrews' announcement, Commonwealthh Games Australia Executive Officer Craig Phillips said the premier's cost update doesn't add up, with the $7 billion figure being a "gross exaggeration". </p> <p>“Beyond disappointing for us,” he said on Tuesday. </p> <p>“It’s a comprehensive let-down for the athletes, the excited host communities, First Nations Australians who were going to be at the heart of the Games and which millions of fans that would have embraced the sixth home Games in Australia.”</p> <p>Phillips also accused Andrews of telling misinformation surrounding the process in which the government put its hand up to host the event. </p> <p>After being confirmed to host in April 2022, planning documents showed the intentions were to establish hubs in Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat and Gippsland, each with an athlete’s village.</p> <p>Shepparton was also planned to host events, and the MCG would have hosted the opening ceremony.</p> <p>In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, Phillips made bombshell claims government officials ignored advice to save costs by moving events to existing stadiums and facilities in Melbourne. </p> <p>Phillips also said Commonwealth Games Australia was not notified about the changed budgetary estimates until the government had already made its decision.</p> <p>He said, “The detailed budgetary implications announced today have not been sighted or discussed with the CGF or CGA ahead of being notified of the Government’s decision." </p> <p>“The stated costs overrun, in our opinion, are a gross exaggeration and not reflective of the operational costs presented to the Victoria 2026 Organising Committee board as recently as June."</p> <p>“Beyond this, the Victorian Government wilfully ignored recommendations to move events to purpose-built stadia in Melbourne and in fact remained wedded to proceeding with expensive temporary venues in regional Victoria."</p> <p>Many were up in arms over the Games being cancelled, including Victorian opposition senator Anne Ruston, who has called on prime minister Anthony Albanese to “take responsibility” for Victoria’s decision to cancel the Commonwealth Games, arguing it has dented Australia’s international reputation.</p> <p>“I say to the prime minister: Australia’s reputation has been damaged today and you should be very worried about the damage this does to Australia’s international reputation,” Ruston said. </p> <p>“This is a terrible decision for Australia but it is also very disingenuous and I think as we dig into the decision this morning, which we will do through our Senate inquiry, you will see that the Victorian government is hiding its incompetence behind a smokescreen of saying this is a budget blowout.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p> </p>

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Australian researchers confirm world’s first case of dementia linked to repetitive brain trauma in a female athlete

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stephen-townsend-501829">Stephen Townsend</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alan-pearce-734804">Alan Pearce</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-olive-944640">Rebecca Olive</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p>Researchers at the <a href="https://www.brainbank.org.au/">Australian Sports Brain Bank</a> have today reported the world’s first diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in a <a href="https://rdcu.be/dfQiz">female athlete</a>.</p> <p>With the consent of her family, the diagnosis was made on the brain of Heather Anderson, a 28-year-old AFLW athlete <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-14/adelaide-aflw-premiership-player-heather-anderson-dies-aged-28/101653188">who died</a> last November. Heather’s family donated her brain to the Australian Sports Brain Bank hoping to better understand why she died.</p> <p>The findings, which Professor Alan Pearce co-authored with the Australian Sports Brain Bank, raise questions about how a lifetime of contact sport may have contributed to her death. They come as Australia’s <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Headtraumainsport">Senate inquiry</a> works on its report into concussions and repeated head trauma in contact sport, due in August.</p> <p>Given how hard women have fought to participate in football codes and contact sports in recent years, this diagnosis has major implications for women’s sport in Australia. It also highlights the significant lack of research about women athletes in sport science and medicine.</p> <h2>What is chronic traumatic encephalopathy?</h2> <p><a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20370921">CTE</a> is a devastating form of dementia which causes a decline in brain functioning and increased risk of mental illness. It is increasingly associated with athletes who play contact sports, such as football, boxing and martial arts.</p> <p>It is incurable and can only be <a href="https://www.brainbank.org.au/cte-diagnosis/">diagnosed post-mortem</a>. Recently, a number of high-profile former Australian footballers were found to have been suffering from CTE when they died, including former AFL stars <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-04-26/danny-frawley-family-urges-afl-to-act-on-cte-concussion/102269648">Danny Frawley</a> and <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-08-25/brain-disease-killed-shane-tuck-not-mental-health-says-sister/101362740">Shane Tuck</a>, and former NRL player and coach <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-10-22/qld-paul-green-brain-scans-reveal-brain-disease-cte-diagnosis/101566032">Paul Green</a>.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Adelaide AFLW premiership player Heather Anderson dies aged 28 <a href="https://t.co/ihy2i9UcRl">https://t.co/ihy2i9UcRl</a></p> <p>— ABC News (@abcnews) <a href="https://twitter.com/abcnews/status/1592079585201381377?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 14, 2022</a></p></blockquote> <p>Concussions in contact sports have long been associated with long-term neurodegeneration in <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fspor.2021.676463/full">Australia</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3987576/">internationally</a>. While the public and researchers are rightly concerned about serious concussions, a study published last month in <a href="https://urldefense.com/v3/__https:/www.nature.com/articles/s41467-023-39183-0__;!!PDiH4ENfjr2_Jw!FvAmUDcX-ESwwl8nG_BNNkRyB2J4TBq1oXkBTE1bBcdRGEQTl4u7qmgGsLguHpGNlFpWkz-SjKg3HGwdNYxIfEWW9U6ifytx%24">Nature Communications</a> confirmed that repetitive brain trauma over time – even seemingly mild head knocks or whiplash – is the strongest predictor for an athlete developing CTE. Athletes with long careers in contact sport are at particular risk, especially if they play from an early age.</p> <h2>A sporting life</h2> <p>Heather Anderson began playing rugby league at age five before transferring to Australian rules football in her early teens. She played representative football in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory before being drafted into the inaugural season of the AFLW in 2017.</p> <p>Anderson played a single season with the <a href="https://crowshistory.afc.com.au/aflw-players/heather-anderson#:%7E:text=Biography&amp;text=An%20army%20medic%2C%20Heather%20Anderson,year%20and%20starred%20for%20Waratah.">Adelaide Crows</a>, during which she won a premiership and suffered a career-ending shoulder injury. She then returned to her role as a medic with the Australian Army, a physical career which also carries a <a href="https://www.defence.gov.au/adf-members-families/health-well-being/programs-initiatives/military-health-outcomes-program">heightened risk of brain injury</a>.</p> <p>Anderson’s family donated her brain in the hope of knowing whether a lifetime of exposure to repetitive head trauma contributed to her death.</p> <h2>Was this diagnosis expected?</h2> <p>Concussion researcher Anne McKee predicted earlier this year it was a <a href="https://www.1news.co.nz/2023/02/20/its-coming-experts-worried-about-female-athlete-brain-injuries/">matter of time</a> before CTE was found in the brain of a woman athlete.</p> <p>The Australian Sports Brain Bank team believe Anderson is a “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK564388/">sentinel case</a>” we can learn from. She is the first female athlete diagnosed with CTE, but she will not be the last.</p> <p>Although Australian women have historically been excluded from the sports most associated with repeated head injuries, this is changing. In 2022, there were almost one million women and girls playing some form of <a href="https://www.clearinghouseforsport.gov.au/kb/women-in-sport">contact sport</a> in Australia. As women’s participation in contact sport continues to grow, so too does their risk of repetitive brain trauma.</p> <h2>Are women more prone to CTE than men?</h2> <p>There is emerging evidence that women are at significantly higher risk of mild traumatic brain injury (concussion) and may suffer more severe symptoms.</p> <p>Concussion alone does not cause CTE, but an athlete’s number of concussions is a reliable indicator of their cumulative exposure to brain trauma, which is the biggest predictor of CTE.</p> <p>While knowledge on the topic is still developing, researchers <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02089-2">propose a mix of physiological and social explanations</a> for women’s increased concussion risk. These include "[…] differences in the microstructure of the brain to the influence of hormones, coaching regimes, players’ level of experience and the management of injuries."</p> <p>More research is needed to understand sporting brain injuries specifically in women and girls. Given their growth in participation and the enhanced risks they face in sport, it is concerning that women and girls are <a href="https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/56/17/981">underrepresented</a> in concussion research.</p> <p>This is representative of a <a href="https://journals-humankinetics-com.ap1.proxy.openathens.net/view/journals/wspaj/29/2/article-p146.xml">broader trend</a> in sport and exercise science research to exclude women from studies because their bodies are perceived as <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40279-021-01435-8">more complex</a> than men’s and thus more difficult to accommodate in testing.</p> <h2>A disease that does not discriminate</h2> <p>This world-first report of CTE in a female athlete is proof the disease does not discriminate and lends urgency to calls for <a href="https://theconversation.com/sports-concussions-affect-men-and-women-differently-female-athletes-need-more-attention-in-brain-research-160097">greater representation</a> of women in brain injury studies.</p> <p>Efforts to reduce concussion in women’s sport must first address resource inequalities between men’s and women’s sport. This includes giving women access to quality training and coaching support, as well as <a href="https://theconversation.com/new-study-much-of-what-were-told-about-gym-exercises-and-resistance-training-is-from-studies-of-males-by-men-205753">greater attention</a> from sport science and medical research.</p> <p>The health of <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14443058.2019.1575262">women athletes and women’s sport</a> will only progress if researchers, policymakers and sport governance bodies ensure the attention and resources required to address concussion and brain disease are not focused solely on men.</p> <hr /> <p><em>If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call <a href="https://www.lifeline.org.au/">Lifeline</a> on 13 11 14.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/208929/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></em></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/stephen-townsend-501829">Stephen Townsend</a>, Lecturer, School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/the-university-of-queensland-805">The University of Queensland</a>; <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/alan-pearce-734804">Alan Pearce</a>, Professor, College of Science, Health, Engineering, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/la-trobe-university-842">La Trobe University</a>, and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rebecca-olive-944640">Rebecca Olive</a>, Vice Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/rmit-university-1063">RMIT University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/australian-researchers-confirm-worlds-first-case-of-dementia-linked-to-repetitive-brain-trauma-in-a-female-athlete-208929">original article</a>.</em></p>

Caring

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"She treats it like a sport": Richard Wilkins reveals toughest interview

<div class="post-action-bar-component-wrapper" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline;"> <div class="post-actions-component" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; visibility: visible;"> <div class="upper-row" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 8px 16px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; display: flex; justify-content: space-between; align-items: flex-end;"> <div class="right-box-container" style="box-sizing: border-box; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; display: flex; justify-content: flex-end; color: #323338; font-family: Figtree, Roboto, Rubik, 'Noto Kufi Arabic', 'Noto Sans JP', sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-weight: 400; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: 2; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 2; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; background-color: #ffffff; text-decoration-thickness: initial; text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial;"> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div> <div> <div> <div> <div> <p dir="ltr">Richard Wilkins has opened up about the toughest interview of his career.</p> <p dir="ltr">The <em>Nine Entertainment </em>reporter revealed that a 2015 interview he did with <em>Material Girl</em> singer Madonna, kept him on his toes.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I guess Madonna would have to be up there. I've done a few interviews with her. She treats it like a sport," Wilkins revealed.</p> <p dir="ltr">In the interview, Wilkins played a drinking game with the singer, where she told him that their chat would not be "your average interview".</p> <p dir="ltr">"One of the last interviews I did with her she had a bottle of tequila and two shot glasses. She said if you ask a really good question, I'll have a shot and if you ask a really stupid question you have to have a shot."</p> <p dir="ltr">As the interview went on the two shot glasses remained empty.</p> <p dir="ltr">At one point, the singer let out an expletive in response to one of Wilkins’ questions and immediately apologised, to which Wilkins jokingly asked whether she should have a shot for swearing.</p> <p dir="ltr">"No, that's not part of the... I make up the rules to this game, OK," she quipped, with a smile creeping across her lips.</p> <p dir="ltr">The two were super competitive as the bottle of tequila remained untouched throughout the interview.</p> <p dir="ltr">When they discussed Madonna’s thirteenth album <em>Rebel Heart</em>, Wilkins finally broke the streak after asking her a question about changing her image.</p> <p dir="ltr">Without uttering a word Madonna pours him a shot, to which Wilkins groans, “Oh come on”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I always answer the same way,” the singer justified and then told Wilkins to “drink up”.</p> <p dir="ltr">Wilkins recalled this moment as if it happened yesterday.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I said, this new record, you know you're going in a different direction... 'Oh, the reinvention question, alright here you go'," he recalled, miming pouring a drink.</p> <p dir="ltr">"It was all fun and games, but you've got to be on your toes when you interview Madonna, because she does not take any prisoners,” he added.</p> <p dir="ltr"> </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: 9Honey</em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div>

TV

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Martha Stewart becomes oldest ever Sports Illustrated covergirl

<p>Martha Stewart has cemented her place in <em>Sports Illustrated Swimsuit </em>magazine’s history, becoming the oldest cover star in the history of the publication at 81 years old. </p> <p>The celebrity chef’s photoshoot was revealed during her appearance on the US breakfast show <em>Today</em>, with her cover - Martha in a plunging white swimsuit with a billowing orange shirt - on full display, according to the New York Post. </p> <p>“I like that picture,” Stewart admitted on the show, before noting that she was “sort of shaking”. </p> <p>She went on to share that it had been “odd” to be snapped in her swimming costume “in front of all those people”, but that things had gone okay. </p> <p>The photographer behind the shoot was Ruven Afanador, and it took place in the Dominican Republic, with Stewart donning no less than 10 swimsuits.</p> <p>“When I heard that I was going to be on the cover of <em>Sports Illustrated Swimsuit</em>, I thought, ‘oh, that’s pretty good, I’m going to be the oldest person I think ever on a cover of <em>Sports Illustrated’</em>,” Stewart told the magazine. “And I don’t think about age very much, but I thought that this is kind of historic.</p> <p>“Age is not the determining factor in terms of friendship or in terms of success, but what people do, how people think, how people act, that’s what’s important and not your age.”</p> <p>Fans were delighted, both with the photoshoot and with her take, and raced to social media to share their enthusiasm when the cover was revealed across <em>Sports Illustrated</em>’s various accounts - as well as Martha’s own. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Thrilled to be on cover of the <a href="https://twitter.com/SI_Swimsuit?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SI_Swimsuit</a> issue! I hope this cover inspires you to challenge yourself to try new things. Pick up on newsstands May 18th! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SISwimsuit?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SISwimsuit</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SISwim23?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SISwim23</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/ruvenafanador?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ruvenafanador</a> <a href="https://t.co/DsRgLr6crK">pic.twitter.com/DsRgLr6crK</a></p> <p>— Martha Stewart (@MarthaStewart) <a href="https://twitter.com/MarthaStewart/status/1658195286571753478?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 15, 2023</a></p></blockquote> <p>“Martha Stewart being the cover model for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit was not on my 2023 bingo card but here we are!” one wrote. “She looks amazing!”</p> <p>“You look gorgeous, as always, Martha! Love you and the cover!!” another gushed. </p> <p>“Spectacular! Congratulations! So gorgeous and strong!” came one round of praise. “A true role model for women”.</p> <p>“Congrats queen! I had no idea you were 81,” someone confessed, “because your energy is so youthful!”</p> <p>Meanwhile, another had similar thoughts to share, noting that “now this is representative of what 'old age' looks like in reality - diverse, modern, bold, stylish and sexy. A rethink is needed! </p> <p>“A woman is beautiful at any age.”</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram, Twitter </em></p>

Beauty & Style

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Set sail in style alongside these sporting legends

<p dir="ltr">The time has come for sports fans with a passion for cruising to live their dreams, with <a href="https://www.cunard.com/en-au/cruise-types/event-cruises/sporting-greats">The Voyage of Sporting Greats</a> - the latest offering to the world of thrilling themed voyages from British luxury cruise line Cunard. </p> <p dir="ltr">The first-of-its-kind-trip will set sail in February 2024, headlined by none other than AFL legend Adam Goodes, cricket’s Brett Lee, and golfer Karrie Webb. <em>Sunrise </em>and Olympic presenter Mark Beretta will also be joining in on the fun, as well as Bruce McLaren’s daughter, Amanda McLaren.</p> <p dir="ltr">While onboard, guests will have the opportunity to attend live fireside chats with their sporting heroes, to enjoy sports-themed shore excursions with those very same stars, and to get to know them better - if you’ve ever wondered just how heavy some of those trophies can be, now’s your chance to ask.</p> <p dir="ltr">For example, the Queen Elizabeth - one of four ships setting sail as part of the 2024 fleet, alongside Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria, and the brand new Queen Anne - has a jam-packed star-studded program to offer guests, featuring everything from talks to sporting activities, and unique excursions to the shore in Sydney, Melbourne, and Hobart. </p> <p dir="ltr">Additionally, the Queen Elizabeth - the second largest ship in Cunard’s fleet with room for 2,000 guests and an additional 1,000 crew - boasts more than 10 different eating establishments, an entire Games Desk with the likes of paddle tennis, croquet, hitting bays, and bowls, as well as an impressive two-story library, a ballroom, and a Royal Court Theatre - the latter will even host performances by <a href="https://circa.org.au/">Circa</a>, an Australian contemporary circus company, in February 2024. </p> <p dir="ltr">As Katrina McAlpine, the commercial director of Cunard Australia and New Zealand, explained, “we are extremely excited to host some of the biggest local names in sport on Queen Elizabeth next February. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Brett Lee, Adam Goodes, Karrie Webb, Mark Beretta, and Amanda McLaren will captivate sport enthusiasts with stories of their career defining moments, their professional highs and lows, and give guests the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with them during priceless and bespoke activities onboard and ashore. </p> <p dir="ltr">“The Voyage of Sporting Greats offers sports fans a once in a lifetime chance to meet and engage with some of our country’s most famous sporting icons in one place.”</p> <p dir="ltr">2014 Australian of the Year and AFL great Adam Goodes, for one, is eager to join in on the fun with his fellow sporting greats, noting that “this is a spectacular opportunity to join the other sporting icons and connect with guests aboard Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth. I am looking forward to sharing stories about my career, what drives and inspires me and what projects I am currently working on. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I am specifically keen to talk to fans onboard and create great memories of the sailing for them.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Celebrated Australian golfer Karrie Webb is similarly excited for Cunard guests to experience their athletic lineup. And golf fans in particular will benefit, with Karrie “very much looking forward to sharing with guests my favourite tips and golf stories, as well as having a swing with them onboard.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Amanda McLaren - daughter of the late Bruce McLaren -  is honoured to be taking part, and “can’t wait to interact with guests and to share the McLaren racing story - and my father’s legacy that kick started in Australia.”</p> <p dir="ltr">And for cricket legend Brett Lee, the trip is set to become the highlight of his year, with the star most looking forward to catching up with guests on the “voyage for the ages”.</p> <p dir="ltr">The same could be said for and by renowned sports presenter Mark Beretta, who is thrilled to be facilitating the talent on deck as they share their stories. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Sharing stories of Australian sporting history and anecdotes from behind the scenes of the world of sports, plus talking to some of the biggest stars in Australian sport is going to be a treat for me and our guests,” he shared. “I’m also looking forward to getting on the road with guests to host a very special excursion!”</p> <p dir="ltr">The stars and their fellow cruisers will depart from Sydney on February 13 2024, heading to Tasmania and back over a span of 7 nights, with stops to stretch their legs and enjoy all that the shore has to offer in Hobart, Port Arthur, and Melbourne.</p> <p dir="ltr">To find our more about costs the voyage’s impressive guest list, and what’s on offer on this trip of a lifetime, potential passengers can learn all about it - and secure their spot - here: <a href="https://www.cunard.com/en-au/cruise-types/event-cruises/sporting-greats">https://www.cunard.com/en-au/cruise-types/event-cruises/sporting-greats</a></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Cunard [supplied]</em></p>

Cruising

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Fitness inspiration from a 75-year-old tennis champion

<p>Being 60 no longer means sinking deeper into armchair and shying away from the fitness world. In fact, new research commissioned by over-50s insurer, Apia, shows that most of Australia’s mature residents are fighting fit and loving life.</p> <p>Local tennis champion Gordon, 75, says there is “no age barrier” when it comes to accomplishing great feats in sport. He recently won the singles in the NSW Seniors Tennis Championships after only starting to play at 40.</p> <p>The tennis star also volunteers his time at his local tennis club through mentoring members on the health benefits that result from exercising on a regular basis and supports his fellow players in reaching their potential.</p> <p>Gordon hopes that his experience and commitment to health and fitness will help change misconceptions of age and encourage others to have a more positive outlook towards keeping fit. He spoke to Over60 about motivation, the joy of volunteering and getting out of life what you put in.</p> <p><strong>How have you found the motivation to stay focused on your tennis for the last thirty years? Have there been any obstacles, be it mental or physical?</strong></p> <p>I realise only too well that as we age, it is important to stay as active and involved as possible - ‘If we don't use it, we lose it.’ So shortly after I retired at 55, I decided to fully engage in the sport of tennis, joining tennis seniors and my local club, both of which I am very active in socially and competitively. I find that I love this sport and am very passionate about all aspects, and I think that one must have this sort of commitment in order to excel at anything you do. Despite having some setbacks over the years, I can honestly say that the wonderful friendships, esprit de corps, and support of this tennis fraternity and family, have helped me through. Everyone has their life challenges. If you get knocked down, just get up and keep going. For me, the burning desire to keep improving at whatever I do, is the motivation to keep playing the demanding physical sport of tennis, where with the support of family and friends, I am still competing at 75. </p> <p><strong>How does volunteering at your local tennis club enrich your day to day life and what made you decide to do it?</strong></p> <p>You get out of life what you put into it, and I so thoroughly enjoy tennis and the fantastic friends and connections I make both locally and overseas, that I try to put back into this sport whatever I can contribute, since it has been so good to me. Consequently, any volunteer work I and others do for the club and community is not viewed as work, rather as pleasure, and I am grateful to be of service. When nominated to be on the club committee, I happily accepted the opportunity to participate and contribute even more.</p> <p><strong>What advice would you give to someone who is over 60 and looking to make a change to a more active lifestyle? </strong></p> <p>If I was 60-years-old and planning to change from a sedentary to a more active lifestyle, I would probably proceed as follows:</p> <p>1. Start slowly on any exercise or activity undertaken, and build up gradually. </p> <p>3. Engage in a body strengthening regime of some sort.</p> <p>4. Do whatever you enjoy, so it is easy to repeat, little and often better than too much at one time.</p> <p>5. Some people may want to join a gym, others walk or swim etc. There are plenty of good books on the general subject, after you have made the choice of your favoured activity.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Body

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Hit your head while playing sport? Here’s what just happened to your brain

<p>It’s Friday night, your team is playing, and scores are nail-bitingly close. A player intercepts the ball, and bam! A player tackles his opponent to the ground. Trainers and doctors gather nervously while the commentators wait for confirmation: a concussion, mild traumatic brain injury, head knock, strike, tap, bump, blow … there are many terms for it.</p> <p>How to prevent and treat such injuries is the subject to a <a href="https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Headtraumainsport">Senate inquiry</a>, with public hearings this week.</p> <p>But what exactly are these injuries? What’s going on in the brain?</p> <h2>What is concussion?</h2> <p>Concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Concussion typically falls at the milder end of the spectrum, and so is often called mild TBI.</p> <p>Concussions happen most often when the head directly hits against something. But it can also happen without head impact, when a blow to the body causes the head to move quickly.</p> <p>The brain is a soft organ in a hard case, floating in a thin layer of <a href="https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/cerebrospinal-fluid-csf-analysis/">cerebrospinal fluid</a>. The brain can be damaged away from the site of impact for this reason, as it bounces with force within the skull.</p> <p>Concussions that happen during sport can be complex because the head often rotates as the person falls. This “<a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3979340/">rotational acceleration</a>” can cause more damage to the brain. This is especially the case for cells in the long tracts of white matter responsible for relaying signals around the brain.</p> <p>As well as causing initial damage to brain cells at the time of injury, concussion sets off a cascade of <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4479139/">chemical and biological changes</a>. These occur within minutes and may last for days or even weeks after concussion.</p> <p>Cell membranes become permeable (more leaky), causing an imbalance of brain chemicals inside and outside cells. Cellular functions shift into overdrive to try to restore balance, using more fuel in the form of glucose. At the same time, blood flow to the brain is often reduced, resulting in a mismatch between energy supply and demand.</p> <p>The structural scaffolding of cells in the white matter may begin to weaken or break, preventing or reducing the ability of cells to communicate.</p> <p>Sensing danger, cells from the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28910616/">immune system</a> begin to migrate to the brain in an attempt to stem the damage, spouting chemical signals to recruit other inflammatory cells to the sites of injury.</p> <p>These initial responses to concussion typically resolve over time, but the recovery period may be different for each person, and may persist even after symptoms go away.</p> <h2>What are the symptoms?</h2> <p>Concussion <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/concussion/symptoms-causes/syc-20355594">symptoms</a> can differ depending on the person and the circumstances of injury.</p> <p>Some people have more obvious symptoms like loss of consciousness, vomiting and confusion; others may have headaches, problems with their vision, or thinking and concentration. Some people may have one symptom while others have many. Some people’s symptoms may be severe, and others may have only mild symptoms.</p> <p>So diagnosing and managing concussion can be difficult. Most people who have a concussion will find their symptoms subside within days or weeks. But around <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26918481/">20% of people</a> will have persistent symptoms beyond three months after their concussion.</p> <p>Ongoing symptoms can make it harder to perform at work or school, to socialise with friends and to maintain relationships. Scientists don’t know why recoveries are different for different people. We have no way to <a href="https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/11/5/e046460.info">predict</a> who will recover from concussion and who won’t.</p> <h2>How about repeat blows to the head?</h2> <p>People who play contact sports are more likely to have multiple concussions over a playing career. Higher numbers of concussions tend to mean <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28387556/">worse symptoms and slower recovery</a> for subsequent concussions.</p> <p>This indicates the brain doesn’t get used to concussions, and each concussion is likely to impart additional damage.</p> <p>Emerging evidence suggests repeated concussions may lead to <a href="https://n.neurology.org/content/88/15/1400.short">ongoing changes</a> in people’s brain cell structure and function.</p> <p><a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32326805/">Inflammation</a> may persist inside and outside the brain. Inflammation may also <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30535946/">cause or contribute</a> to someone developing symptoms, and long-term brain functional and structural changes.</p> <p>Prolonged symptoms and long-term brain changes may be worse in the long run for people who experience their concussions as <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6595074/">young adults</a> compared to people who have concussions as older adults.</p> <p>Scientists are also starting to find differences in <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30618335/">symptoms</a> and <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8596946/">brain alterations</a> in males and females. These could be related to newfound sex differences in the <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29104114/">scaffolding proteins</a> of male and female brains, making female brains more susceptible.</p> <h2>We’ve known about this for a long time</h2> <p>The long-term brain and behaviour changes resulting from repeated sports concussions have been reported since at least the <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/1/3306/816">1920s</a>. Back then, it was seen in boxers and termed dementia pugilistica, or <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/260461">punch-drunk syndrome</a>.</p> <p>We now call this condition <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1934148211005296">chronic traumatic encephalopathy</a> (CTE). People found to have CTE don’t always experience severe symptoms. Instead, symptoms tend to emerge or worsen later in life, even decades after injury or at the end of a playing career.</p> <p>People also have <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8166432/">varied symptoms</a> that can sometimes be hard to measure, like confusion, impaired judgement and aggression. This has made diagnosis difficult while people are alive. We can only confirm CTE after someone dies, by detecting altered structural proteins of the brain in <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12024-023-00624-3">specific brain areas</a>.</p> <p>There is still a lot to learn about CTE, including the exact processes that cause it, and why some people will develop it and others won’t.</p> <h2>Concussion is common</h2> <p>Concussion is a common injury almost <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7048626/">30%</a> of us will experience in our lifetime.</p> <p>Although we have a lot still to learn, the current advice for people who experience concussion is to seek medical advice to help with initial management of symptoms and guide decisions on returning back to playing sports.</p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/hit-your-head-while-playing-sport-heres-what-just-happened-to-your-brain-203038" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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Golfers guide to lower back pain

<p><em><strong>Dr Richard Parkinson is a highly trained neurosurgeon who has performed ground breaking and complex surgery on some of Australia's elite sportspeople and recognised as a leading expert in sports injuries.</strong></em></p> <p>Golf is a great sport for general fitness, including muscular endurance and cardiovascular wellbeing. However, it’s time we talked about golf back pain, which is a fairly common affliction, exacerbated by the more advanced age of the average amateur golfer. Fortunately, the pros of getting out there on the green outweigh the cons.</p> <p>Lower back pain in golfers is common, as are a range of other injuries to areas including the neck, shoulders, elbows, head and eyes. Interestingly enough, injuries to the knees are pretty rare. Golf back pain and neck pain are usually related to bending or twisting injury and both are, in turn, often related to current swinging of the club. Golf is, unfortunately, a fairly asymmetric sport.</p> <p><strong>The price of the swing</strong></p> <p>The problem is that the swinging action causing the pain is unavoidable in golf. You can't hold your back completely still while you swing. Having said that, though, it's not a tremendously high impact sport by any reach of the imagination, and the exercise you get from being outdoors and getting some gentle exercise is very beneficial.</p> <p>So for people who are a bit older, golf remains an excellent way to get some exercise and have some fun. Equally, however, that twisting can increase the problem with lower back pain and really the only thing you can do is, if you're hurting, work on your short game and minimise your swing. Other solutions might be to work on your putt and to try to improve your score by avoiding the big screen with the three wood. Most people can do a short swing with an iron and get three quarters of the way.</p> <p><strong>The core of the problem</strong></p> <p>When I discover lower back pain in golfers, I usually tell them to go and see a physio and get some work done on their core. In the meantime, they can still work on their short game while they gradually find their way back to full strength with the assistance of a physio. Core strength is the key to avoiding golf back pain. Golfers need to learn how to turn their core on—to engage it, in other words—when they swing, and to start approaching their game in a physiological way with a bit of knowledge about how their body works.</p> <p>There are a lot of golfers out there, and it is, generally speaking, a low-risk game for injuries—but what if you have an established back problem or disc herniation, what should you do about your golf? After I perform disc surgery, I usually tell patients to have three months off golf, because the twisting can predispose you to golf back pain.</p> <p><strong>Your first step</strong></p> <p>If you do have an injury, it's always worthwhile giving it some physiotherapy and, as a Sydney neurosurgeon, I can definitely refer my patients to a physio with an interest in golfing injuries.</p> <p>There are physios out there that specialise in asymmetric sports; then there are those that specialise in over-arm sports − and there are those physios that specialise in bending and twisting type sports.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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Sad update on Schumacher's wife

<p>Eddie Jordan, former F1 boss and friend of the Schumachers, has opened up about how Corinna Schumacher has lived “like a prisoner” since her husband’s 2013 ski accident. </p> <p>Corinna, who has been declared “Michael’s guardian angel” on more than one occasion, has been battling for an entire decade to uphold his wish for privacy when it comes to his health and his ongoing recovery. </p> <p>It is reported that Corinna handles the Schumacher family’s affairs, and it’s a rare occasion when she does speak about her husband and family, despite overwhelming interest in how Michael is doing - all while helping son Mick launch his own career in Formula 1.</p> <p>And now, Eddie Jordan - who was a key player in Michael’s 1991 F1 experience - has spoken up about the reality of Corinna’s situation, admitting in an interview with <em>The Sun Online</em> that she is living “like a prisoner”. </p> <p>"This was the most horrific situation for Mick and Corinna," he said. “It's been nearly ten years now and Corinna has not been able to go to a party, to lunch or this or that, she's like a prisoner because everyone would want to talk to her about Michael when she doesn't need reminding of it every minute."</p> <p>He confessed that Corinna once denied him a visit with his friend, as she had imposed a kind of “family only” rule when it came to seeing Michael after the 2013 incident. Eddie wasn’t offended, instead supporting her decision, aware that the rule had come from a place of love, and that he knows her “very well, and a long time before Michael Schumacher.” </p> <p>However, there is apparently one individual who is allowed to stop by - Jean Todt, F1 chief and former boss for Ferrari.  </p> <p>"She's a lovely girl,” he continued, “and I knew her when she married Michael so there is a long history of good relations.</p> <p>"I made an effort to go see Michael in the early days and Corinna refused, and rightfully so because too many people wanted to go see him.</p> <p>"Jean Todt was given the privilege to go see him because of how close they were from their time together at Ferrari which is completely understandable.</p> <p>"I was not able to go see Michael and they said 'we love you Eddie and we've been involved with you for a very long time, but we do need privacy and safeguard of Michael'."</p> <p>This isn’t the first time that Eddie has spoken out about his friends, having explained early in 2023 that the 54-year-old Michael was “there, but not there.” </p> <p>And Corinna has revealed something similar herself, as seen in the documentary <em>Schumacher</em>, where she said, “I miss Michael every day. But it's not just me who misses him.</p> <p>"It's the children, the family, his father, everyone around him.</p> <p>"I mean, everybody misses Michael, but Michael is here. Different, but he's here and that gives us strength … we try to carry on a family as Michael liked it and still does. And we are getting on with our lives.</p> <p>“'Private is private', as he always said. It is very important to me that he can continue to enjoy his private life as much as possible.</p> <p>"Michael always protected us, and now we are protecting Michael."</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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Sam Kerr shares rare insight into romance with rival sports star

<p dir="ltr">Aussie soccer star Sam Kerr has shared a rare insight into her relationship with her US player girlfriend, Kristie Mewis.</p> <p dir="ltr">Speaking to UK online publication <a href="https://gaffer.world/pages/sam-kerr-kristie-mewis#MainContent" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Gaffer</em></a>, the couple confirmed that they first knew of each other back in 2019 while competing in the National Women's Soccer League in the US.</p> <p dir="ltr">The two soccer stars then slid into each other's direct messages on Instagram and sparked a conversation.</p> <p dir="ltr">Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions, they were "forced" to get to know each other online.</p> <p dir="ltr">"It was about three or four months until we could hang out in person," Kerr said, referring to the first romantic meeting with her now girlfriend.</p> <p dir="ltr">"The first time we ever met there was quarantine so we had to spend two weeks together the first time we met.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I was thinking if I don’t like her this is going to be awkward".</p> <p dir="ltr">But her fears were proven wrong as the couple are still going strong, their relationship close to hitting the two-year mark.</p> <p dir="ltr">"We didn’t share it for ages, then it just got too hard to hide it," Kerr said regarding their sweet relationship.</p> <p dir="ltr">Kerr also shared the story of how the couple first started coming out to their friends.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I remember one time we were with some friends and some fans asked for a picture and then we thought we don’t really want this coming out from someone else. We want to be the ones to share it," she said</p> <p dir="ltr">"Once we told our friends it kind of started getting out there a little bit".</p> <p dir="ltr">Mewis, on the other hand, said she was more eager to go public with their relationship.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I was so proud that she was mine so I wanted to share it. I love her and I was so proud to be her girlfriend".</p> <p dir="ltr">Mewis also shared that she loved sharing their relationship on social media, as she hopes that in publicising their relationship, they can change a few people's lives.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I think just being out and being two girls in love, I think if we can change one or two people’s lives and the way that they feel about each other and how comfortable they feel, then that means a lot to me," she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">"So I think if we can change the way one or two people feel about themselves, they can look at us and see that we're happy and we're trying to be as successful as we can and we're an out gay couple. I think that that's so important".</p> <p dir="ltr">The couple are now one of soccer's power couples and are both "out and proud" in the queer and straight communities.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Instagram/ Gaffer</em></p>

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