Applied Sports Science newsletter – May 29, 2017

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for May 29, 2017


Penguins, Predators overcame big injuries to reach Cup Final

Associated Press, Stephen Whyno from

No one is totally healthy this late in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, certainly not the last two teams standing.

The Pittsburgh Penguins knew they’d be without top defenseman Kris Letang for the entire playoffs because of neck surgery and winger Chris Kunitz for the start, and they lost starting goaltender Matt Murray in warmups before Game 1 in the first round. Along the way they dealt with injuries to defensemen Justin Schultz, Trevor Daley and Chad Ruhwedel, wingers Bryan Rust, Patric Hornqvist and Carl Hagelin and even played — and won — a game without captain Sidney Crosby.

The Nashville Predators endured the loss of rookie Kevin Fiala to a gruesome broken leg and soldiered on without forward Craig Smith before two potentially devastating injuries in the Western Conference final. Top center Ryan Johansen needed emergency, season-ending surgery for acute compartment syndrome in his thigh. An undisclosed injury to captain Mike Fisher put them in a tough spot.


So you think you know Phoenix Mercury star Diana Taurasi? Think again

espnW, Mechelle Voepel from

Diana Taurasi has played much of her basketball in extreme climates. Summers in Phoenix, which at its hottest can sap anyone’s strength. Winters in Russia, which at its coldest can drain anyone’s willpower.

“You could even say that started in Connecticut,” Taurasi said of the significantly chillier place she went to college after growing up in the sunny Los Angeles suburb of Chino, California. “It does affect your mentality, your everyday life, and it changes your personality a little bit.”


Predators just 1 NHL team winning thanks to their Swedes

Associated Press, Teresa M. Walker from

… It has been a sweet postseason for players from a nation whose players once were derided for being soft and not able to handle the rigors of the NHL. In all, general manager David Poile has six Swedes on Nashville’s playoff roster as the Predators reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in their 19-year history.

“I must admit we haven’t gone out of the way necessarily to get them to this point, but I’m thinking maybe we should,” Poile said. “They’ve certainly been key parts of our team.”

The Predators have lots of company in mining Sweden for talent. Defenseman Erik Karlsson is one of four Swedes playing for Ottawa in the Eastern Conference finals, while former Nashville forward Patric Hornqvist is one of three for the Pittsburgh Penguins. A check of NHL rosters shows 79 skaters and 10 goalies from Sweden played during the regular season, with 40 appearing in at least one playoff game.


Christian Pulisic: ‘It was scary – you’re not thinking about football that night or the next day’

The Guardian, Nick Ames from

After a season in which his team’s bus was targeted in a bomb attack the US international is now looking forward to the German Cup final and thinks he could not have found a club better prepared to make the most of his talent


Arsenal’s FA Cup final man-of-match Per Mertesacker: Everyone had written me off 

The Telegraph (UK), Jason Burt from

After producing an extraordinary man-of-the-match performance in the FA Cup final triumph for Arsenal, Per Mertesacker admitted that “everyone had written me off” after spending more than a year without making a start for his club.

The 32-year-old German has suffered a serious knee injury and has also been overlooked by manager Arsene Wenger but was called upon following a defensive crisis which ruled out Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel and Shkodran Mustafi for the final against Chelsea.

“Two weeks ago I was on holiday – I didn’t expect to play,” Mertesacker said. “Everyone trusted me and supported me throughout the season and the manager gave me the opportunity. Our team had three centre backs out and he didn’t go small, he went with the big fella and I wanted to give something back to this club and this team.”


VU sport experts and FIFA join forces

Victoria University (Australia) from

Victoria University is working with international football governing body FIFA to establish world-first standards for electronic movement-tracking devices.

Many football clubs now use electronic devices to track player movement and performance. VU’s Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL) has been selected by FIFA to examine the quality, reliability and reproducibility of the devices against a computer vision standard, said lead researcher Associate Professor Rob Aughey.


Mossberg: The Disappearing Computer

The Verge, Walter Mossberg from

… But just because you’re not seeing amazing new consumer tech products on Amazon, in the app stores, or at the Apple Store or Best Buy, that doesn’t mean the tech revolution is stuck, or stopped. In fact, it’s just pausing to conquer some major new territory. And, if it succeeds, the results could be as big, or bigger, than the first consumer PCs were in the 1970s, or even the web in the 1990s and smartphones in the first decade of this century.

All of the major tech players, companies from other industries, and startups with names we don’t know yet are working away on some or all of the new major building blocks of the future. They are: artificial intelligence / machine learning, augmented reality, virtual reality, robotics and drones, smart homes, self-driving cars, and digital health / wearables.

All of these things have dependencies in common. They include greater and more distributed computing power, new sensors, better networks, smarter voice and visual recognition, and software that’s simultaneously more intelligent and more secure.


Digital health should mature from apps to innovative environments

STAT, John Torous and Carlos Rodarte from

Over the past decade, an entire industry has emerged to support the use of mobile health technology. New digital trackers and connected sensors are released every month. A quarter of a million health-related smartphone apps are available for download today. This technology was supposed to disrupt and transform health care. So why hasn’t it, and is there a comprehensive solution on the horizon?

The fundamental fault is that the industry as a whole hasn’t actually focused on meaningful problems. The question “What health care or patient challenges need to be solved?” has surreptitiously become “How can technology solve a health care problem?” It’s a subtle distinction, but the result is a glut of mobile technologies searching for medical purpose.

Take, for example, the use of smartphones and wearables to deliver mindfulness therapies. There’s something ironic about your phone beeping to tell you to relax and then incessantly buzzing until you tell it you took a deep breath. Perhaps it is not surprising that only a small percentage of mindfulness apps, 4 percent to be exact, provide actual mindfulness education and training.


Medical tents for players will be on NFL sidelines in ’17, Conor Orr from

Medical tents will be a permanent fixture on NFL sidelines this season.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the development at the Spring League Meeting on Tuesday, a few months after the small, mobile units gained popularity at the college level for their ability to aid doctors and trainers in doing their job without a raucous crowd bearing down on them from the stands.

“We also spent a fair amount of time on health and safety as we normally do,” Goodell said. “Dr. [Allen] Sills, our new chief medical officer is here, and he obviously made a presentation to the membership. He’s only three weeks into the job, but there are several things that he reported on, including this year we will be using medical examination tents on the sidelines which you may have seen to some extent on the college level.


Superfoods Aren’t Really All That Super

Pacific Standard, Michael Fitzgerald from

Americans fall hard for so-called superfoods. Sales keep skyrocketing for nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables like acai, pomegranate, beets, and goji berries. But most experts agree that the superfoods hype is more a result of marketing quackery than of healthy outcomes. Food isn’t medicine, and consumers shouldn’t expect any single food to cure what ails them—especially not the chronic ailments that many superfoods are purported to address. Three-quarters of Americans still won’t adopt the calorie-modest, balanced diet doctors have long recommended. Instead, we’re over-investing billions on the food cure-all du jour. What keeps us reaching for the quick fix?


Ajax recipe for success sets up UEFA Europa League final vs Manchester United – ESPN FC

ESPN FC, Simon Kuper from

… Ajax’s academy continued to produce good players (though the only top-rank offensive player to emerge in the past decade is Christian Eriksen, who now plays for Tottenham), but they swiftly left for bigger leagues. The club’s bank balance stands at about €100 million. Of all the clubs in Europe, only Arsenal, another famously stingy club, has built up a bigger piggy bank.

[Marc] Overmars didn’t hold with the old Ajax adage: “The capital should be on the field”. He insisted, implausibly, that high spending might jeopardize the club’s existence. For years he made only bargain-basement signings and refused to raise salaries to keep good players. The club has revenues of about €100 million a year, but Overmars says the wage bill for its entire playing staff is just €21 million. That means Ajax is spending only about 20 percent of revenues on salaries, whereas more conservative European clubs typically spend 50 to 60 percent. Ajax’s best-paid players earn about €1 million a year, which means that there are dozens of foreign clubs where they can better themselves.


Doing Data Science in a Data Illiterate Organization

Medium, Peter Binggeser from

I work with multidiscipline teams of designers, strategists, data scientists, developers, and researchers every day. While we live in the most collaborative and golden age of technical work, I’ve witnessed firsthand the turbulence data scientists encounter in less than data-savvy environments. Legitimate, accurate, and valid science can all be lost in translation far too easily. Below I outline some pragmatic advice for data scientists that I’ve found to be most effective in data illiterate organizations.

1. Interrogate the ‘ask’ and never stop considering: are we solving the right problem?


Why predicting the future is more than just horseplay

Christian Science Monitor, Daniel B. Larremore and Aaron Clauset from

The science of prediction lies at the heart of the modern world, but attempts to forecast even the most straightforward systems often confound scientists, while complex systems sometimes reveal themselves to surprisingly predictable.


The Baseball Factory Churning Out the Next MLB Stars

OZY, The Huddle, Matt Foley from

… Given the university’s location in baseball-obsessed Louisiana — and its membership in one of the NCAA’s “power conferences,” the Southeastern Conference (SEC) — it should come as no surprise that LSU is a factory for pro ballplayers. And no other institution can match LSU’s combination of success on the field and fanatical community engagement. Since 1996 — the year of LSU’s third national title — Alex Box Stadium has led the country in attendance for 21 straight seasons, and it’s the only U.S. college baseball program to draw more than 400,000 spectators in a single season. “The fans in that place are incredible,” says former Tiger and current Philadelphia Phillies ace Aaron Nola. “It’s a pro atmosphere.”


Bob Myers’ care for people goes long way as Warriors GM

NBC Sports, ProBasketballTalk, AP from

… The Golden State Warriors’ general manager has that same kind of feel for his entire operation – from those staffers behind the scenes, to the coaches, the MVPs and the role players, helping to forge a tight-knit team in its third straight NBA Finals.

“There’s a lot of things I have no clue on and then you bring people in to your blind spots and say, `Look, I’m not good at this, can you help me in this area?”‘ he said. “That’s also being self-aware. What does it mean? It just means we’re attentive to people. Everybody wants to feel appreciated. Everybody wants to know that they matter. We all matter in our own unique ways. So, does that help our team? I don’t know. It helps that we have really good players.”

Myers has found a balance being involved just enough in the day-to-day. Hands-on when needed while knowing when to back off.


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