Sports Trends – How Are They Useful?

In these days, sports events are not only entertainment activities, but also are great money-spinning businesses. Undoubtedly, sports and sports events can yield huge amounts of earnings and profits for both the players and the organizers. Actually, nowadays, you can earn money even by watching your favorite sports event or game and predicting on its outcome. For this, all you have to know is certain underlying information about recent sports trends, sports statistics, weather, and latest condition of the players and teams.

We all know that there are some professional sports players, especially the football, basketball, tennis and polo players, who earn millions of dollars a year. Moreover, there are many businesses that revolve around sports and a majority of them are multi-million dollar industries and are highly profitable. Sports’ betting is one such associated business.

Sports’ betting refers to the system of placing a bet on the final outcome of a sports event or game. This is now a very lucrative business and there are lots of people who consider online sports betting as their main profession and make huge amounts of money from sports betting. One of the advantages of sports betting is that it can be done by anyone and everyone who knows a few basic facts about the game, details about the team and players, and latest sports trends.

Sports’ betting is widely prevalent in many popular sports, such as soccer, rugby, baseball, basketball, ice hockey, cricket, softball tennis, motorcar racing, and horse racing. If you want to earn money by betting on your favorite sports, the first step you need to take is to find a physical or online sports book that allows betting on your chosen sports game. There are several professional sports betting websites where you can participate in betting on various sports like football, basketball, baseball, and rugby. If the goddess of fortune is also on your side, you can definitely earn a lot from sports betting.

However, lady luck will bless you only if you work hard. Before placing a bet on a particular team or player, it is very important that you try to acquire as much information as possible about the game and the team. For instance, if you intend to bet on a football game, you must know and understand the up-to-date football statistics of the each team and the playing condition of each player. The sports trends are another reliable tool to predict the outcome of a sport activity or game. All these data are helpful to recognize the strength and weaknesses of a team and the playing methods and the current playing form if its players.

An essential quality that a successful sports bettor must have is the ability to observe and correctly read the recent sports trends. If you know the recent trends of a team, you can identify whether the team is on a winning or losing streak. It has been seen that many sports bettors have a tendency to place their bets on the player or team that is their favorite. However, identifying the sports trends may help these bettors to avoid making wrong decisions and approach betting with a professional attitude and mindset. Knowing the latest trends of the game can be highly useful to plan strategies and select the team that has the highest winning chances.

The gathering of sports data, including statistics and sports trends, is not an easy job and requires extensive research. Those sports bettors who do not have the time, patience or much knowledge about the sports on which they bet can seek the services of a sports handicapper to provide information on sports statistics, latest trends in the game, weather information, and other useful facts regarding the team and players. The sports handicappers usually have the knowledge and resources to collect and analyze the appropriate data and create a report on the current trends in the sports.

Sport and the Russian Revolution

“People will divide into “parties” over the question of a new gigantic canal, or the distribution of oases in the Sahara (such a question will exist too), over the regulation of the weather and the climate, over a new theatre, over chemical hypotheses, over two competing tendencies in music, and over a best system of sports.”
– Leon Trotsky, Literature and Revolution

At the start of the twentieth century sport had not flourished in Russia to the same extent as in countries such as Britain. The majority of the Russian population were peasants, spending hours each day on back-breaking agricultural labour. Leisure time was difficult to come by and even then people were often exhausted from their work. Of course people did still play, taking part in such traditional games as lapta (similar to baseball) and gorodki (a bowling game). A smattering of sports clubs existed in the larger cities but they remained the preserve of the richer members of society. Ice hockey was beginning to grow in popularity, and the upper echelons of society were fond of fencing and rowing, using expensive equipment most people would never have been able to afford.

In 1917 the Russian Revolution turned the world upside down, inspiring millions of people with its vision of a society built on solidarity and the fulfilment of human need. In the process it unleashed an explosion of creativity in art, music, poetry and literature. It touched every area of people’s lives, including the games they played. Sport, however, was far from being a priority. The Bolsheviks, who had led the revolution, were confronted with civil war, invading armies, widespread famine and a typhus epidemic. Survival, not leisure, was the order of the day. However, during the early part of the 1920s, before the dreams of the revolution were crushed by Stalin, the debate over a “best system of sports” that Trotsky had predicted did indeed take place. Two of the groups to tackle the question of “physical culture” were the hygienists and the Proletkultists.

Hygienists
As the name implies the hygienists were a collection of doctors and health care professionals whose attitudes were informed by their medical knowledge. Generally speaking they were critical of sport, concerned that its emphasis on competition placed participants at risk of injury. They were equally disdainful of the West’s preoccupation with running faster, throwing further or jumping higher than ever before. “It is completely unnecessary and unimportant,” said A.A. Zikmund, head of the Physical Culture Institute in Moscow, “that anyone set a new world or Russian record.” Instead the hygienists advocated non-competitive physical pursuits – like gymnastics and swimming -as ways for people to stay healthy and relax.

For a period of time the hygienists influenced Soviet policy on questions of physical culture. It was on their advice that certain sports were prohibited, and football, boxing and weight-lifting were all omitted from the programme of events at the First Trade Union Games in 1925. However the hygienists were far from unanimous in their condemnation of sport. V.V. Gorinevsky, for example, was an advocate of playing tennis which he saw as being an ideal physical exercise. Nikolai Semashko, a doctor and the People’s Commissar for Health, went much further arguing that sport was “the open gate to physical culture” which “develops the sort of will-power, strength and skill that should distinguish Soviet people.”

Proletkult
In contrast to the hygienists the Proletkult movement was unequivocal in its rejection of ‘bourgeois’ sport. Indeed they denounced anything that smacked of the old society, be it in art, literature or music. They saw the ideology of capitalism woven into the fabric of sport. Its competitiveness set workers against each other, dividing people by tribal and national identities, while the physicality of the games put unnatural strains on the bodies of the players.

In place of sport Proletkultists argued for new, proletarian forms of play, founded on the principles of mass participation and cooperation. Often these new games were huge theatrical displays looking more like carnivals or parades than the sports we see today. Contests were shunned on the basis that they were ideologically incompatible with the new socialist society. Participation replaced spectating, and each event contained a distinct political message, as is apparent from some of their names: Rescue from the Imperialists; Smuggling Revolutionary Literature Across the Frontier; and Helping the Proletarians.

Bolsheviks
It would be easy to characterise the Bolsheviks as being anti-sports. Leading members of the party were friends and comrades with those who were most critical of sport during the debates on physical culture. Some of the leading hygienists were close to Leon Trotsky, while Anotoli Lunacharsky, the Commissar for the Enlightenment, shared many views with Proletkult. In addition, the party’s attitude to the Olympics is normally given as evidence to support this anti-sport claim. The Bolsheviks boycotted the Games arguing that they “deflect workers from the class struggle and train them for imperialist wars”. Yet in reality the Bolshevik’s attitudes towards sport were somewhat more complicated.

It is clear that that they regarded participation in the new physical culture as being highly important, a life-affirming activity allowing people to experience the freedom and movement of their own bodies. Lenin was convinced that recreation and exercise were integral parts of a well-rounded life. “Young people especially need to have a zest for life and be in good spirits. Healthy sport – gymnastics, swimming, hiking all manner of physical exercise – should be combined as much as possible with a variety of intellectual interests, study, analysis and investigation… Healthy bodies, healthy minds!”

Unsurprisingly, in the aftermath of the revolution, sport would play a political role for the Bolsheviks. Facing internal and external threats which would decimate the working class, they saw sport as a means by which the health and fitness of the population could be improved. As early as 1918 they issued a decree, On Compulsory Instruction in the Military Art, introducing physical training to the education system.

This tension between the ideals of a future physical culture and the pressing concerns of the day were evident in a resolution passed by the Third All-Russia Congress of the Russian Young Communist League in October 1920:

“The physical culture of the younger generation is an essential element in the overall system of communist upbringing of young people, aimed at creating harmoniously developed human beings, creative citizens of communist society. Today physical culture also has direct practical aims: (1) preparing young people for work; and (2) preparing them for military defence of Soviet power.”

Sport would also play a role in other areas of political work. Prior to the revolution the liberal educationalist Peter Lesgaft noted that “social servitude has left its degrading imprint on women. Our task is to free the female body of its fetters”. Now the Bolsheviks attempted to put his ideas into practice. The position of women in society had already been greatly improved through the legalisation of abortion and divorce, but sport could also play a role by increasingly bringing women into public life. “It is our urgent task to draw women into sport,” said Lenin. “If we can achieve that and get them to make full use of the sun, water and fresh air for fortifying themselves, we shall bring an entire revolution in the Russian way of life.”

And sport became another way of conveying the ideals of the revolution to the working classes of Europe. The worker-sport movement stretched across the continent and millions of workers were members of sports clubs run mainly by reformist organisations. The Red Sports International (RSI) was formed in 1921 with the express intention of connecting with these workers. Through the following decade the RSI (and the reformist Socialist Worker Sports International) held a number of Spartakiads and Worker Olympics in opposition to the official Olympic Games. Worker-athletes from across the globe would come together to participate in a whole range of events including processions, poetry, art and competitive sport. There was none of the discrimination that marred the ‘proper’ Olympics. Men and women of all colours were eligible to take part irrespective of ability. The results were very much of secondary importance.

So, were the Bolsheviks anti-sport? They certainly did not seem to go as far as Proletkult’s fervent ideological opposition and, as we have seen, were prepared to utilise sport in the pursuit of wider political goals. No doubt there were many individual Bolsheviks who despised sports. Equally many will have greatly enjoyed them. Indeed, as the British secret agent Robert Bruce Lockhart observed, Lenin himself was a keen sportsman: “From boyhood he had been fond of shooting and skating. Always a great walker, he became a keen mountaineer, a lively cyclist, and an impatient fisherman.” Lunacharsky, despite his association with Proletkult, extolled the virtues of both rugby union and boxing, hardly the most benign of modern sports.

This is not to say that the party was uncritical of ‘bourgeois’ sport. It is clear that they tackled the worst excesses of sport under capitalism. The emphasis on competition was removed, contest that risked serious injury to the participants was banned, the flag-waving nationalist trappings endemic to modern sport disappeared, and the games people played were no longer treated as commodities. But the Bolsheviks were never overly prescriptive in their analysis of what physical culture should look like.

The position of the Bolsheviks in those early days is perhaps best summarised by Trotsky in the quote that opens this chapter. It was not for the party to decide what constituted the “best system of sports” or produce the correct line for the working class to follow. Rather it was for the mass of people to discuss and debate, experiment and innovate, and in that process create their own sports and games. Nobody could foresee exactly what the play of a future socialist society would be like, but equally no one could doubt that the need to play would assert itself. As Trotsky said, “The longing for amusement, distraction, sight-seeing and laughter is the most legitimate of human nature.”

Stalinism
The hopes of the revolution died, alongside thousands of old Bolsheviks, with the rise of Josef Stalin. The collectivist ideals of 1917 were buried, replaced by exploitation and brutal repression. Internationalism was jettisoned in favour of “socialism in one country”. As the values and imperatives of the society changed so too did the character of the country’s physical culture. By 1925 the Bolsheviks had already turned towards a more elitist model of sport. Around this time Stalin is reported to have said: “We compete with the bourgeoisie economically, politically, and not without success. We compete everywhere possible. Why not compete in sport?” Team sports reappeared, complete with capitalist style league and cup structures. Successful sportspeople were held up as heroes in the Soviet Union and the quest for records resumed. Many of the hygienists and Proletkultists who had dared to dream of new forms of physical culture perished in the purges.

Eventually sport became a proxy for the Cold War. In 1952 the Soviet Union was re-integrated into the Olympic movement ensuring that the medal table at each Games became a measure of the relative strength of East and West. As the country was inexorably compelled into economic, political and military competition on the international stage, so it also found itself drawn into sporting competition with the West.

Just as it would be a mistake to judge the ideals of the Russian Revolution by the horrors of Stalinism, so we should not allow the latter days of Soviet sport to obscure those remarkable early experiments in physical culture. Sport in Russia may have ended as a steroid-enhanced caricature, but how far removed that was from the vision of Lenin when he said: “Young men and women of the Soviet land should live life beautifully and to the full in public and private life. Wrestling, work, study, sport, making merry, singing, dreaming – these are things young people should make the most of.”

How To Become A Sports Psychologist

Psychology is a field that has diversified hugely over the past few years. One direction of interest is the growth and popularity of a career in sports psychology. With the hype surrounding many of our modern day sports people at an all time high, it is no wonder that more and more people are training for a career in sports psychology.

Sport and exercise psychologists focus on the mental and emotional aspects associated with sport and exercise. Most will either specialize in sport or exercise but it is possible to work in both areas. Once qualified as a sports psychologist, you can expect to work with teams and individuals at all levels of expertise from all backgrounds, from amateurs all the way up to top professionals.

Generally, a sports psychologist will work with a team or individual to deal with issues such as nerves and anxiety before a big game or event, improving self-confidence and thus improving performance, dealing with the stresses of a demanding training regime and also improving concentration. Many sportsmen and women struggle to maintain motivation and focus when faced with extreme pressure or stress and a sports psychologist will help to improve the situation. They will also help sporting individuals to deal with the frustration and stress of getting injured, controlling aggression during play and help individuals and teams to set themselves achievable goals in order to focus the mind.

Within your role as a sports psychologist you can expect to work in close proximity with not only sportsmen and women but other sporting professionals such as coaches, managers, nutritionists and physiotherapists. Sports psychologists need to be a specific type of person in order to be successful. They need to be genuinely interested in people and human behavior; they also need to have a keen interest in sport. It’s really important to have a desire to help others and have excellent communication skills. You need to be able to work within a team on a professional level and have a tolerant and patient manner. A good sports psychologist will have good problem solving skills and apply a logical approach to all areas of their work.

In order to work as a qualified sports psychologist you need to undergo the relevant training. You will need to complete a bachelor’s education requirements for psychology to begin with, and if possible choose a degree program that studies sports psychology. Most psychologists are advanced degree holders so in order to be competitive it is a good idea to further your career. You will be able to gain an entry level position with a two year degree but in order to be really successful, most professionals will advise the completion of a 5 year doctoral program based on sports psychology or sports science.

Many sports psychologists kick start their career with an internship as this can be really beneficial to set you apart from the competition. Gain at least 2 years of clinical work experience in order to gain the relevant on the job skills necessary. You will also be required to take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) issued by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). This is a requirement if you want to work in any of the states in the US and once completed you can practice as a licensed sports psychologist.

Many sports psychologists combine consultancy work with education by teaching or researching in other areas of psychology. Others opt for full-time employment with a professional sports team.

The National Service Factor in Sports Development

National Service (NS) is one of the key foundations, together with multiculturalism and religious harmony, in Singapore’s unique social fabric. Every male of the modern generation has gone through the rites of NS, including our very best athletes. These athletes leave their schools as future sports champions of our nation, but very few of them actually fulfill their potential to do Singapore proud in international competitions. What happened to these potential sports stars? Did NS hinder their passion and motivation to excel in their sports? Why do so few carry on in their sports after school and NS? In our national quest for more sporting excellence and glories, perhaps it is time to re-look at our NS policy and see how we can truly support and encourage the journeys of these potential sports stars without necessarily compromising the security of the nation.

The argument that NS is detrimental to the development and continuous journey of our budding athletes from school is not new. Athletes who are affected have been fighting for years to get the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) to make special concessions and arrangements for them to continue with their training programs with their sports coaches. In most cases, MINDEF has adopted a general guide line that athletes can still continue with their sports career as long as their obligations with their respective NS units are not compromised. This basically means that athletes will have to count on the good graces of their commanding officers to make special arrangements for them to continue training, and at the same time fulfill their training and duties with their units. A most difficult task at best. Any top class athlete will tell you that in order to be successful and be competitive with the rest of the other world class athletes, training twice a day, seven day a week, with full nutritional and physiological support is common practice. NS training by itself is already tough, and asking our athletes to spend time in NS and train at the same time is just not possible. When faced with this situation, most of our athletes have no choice but to drop out. Only a handful, with good fortunate and determination will be able to find the time to balance the NS commitments and training to the effect that some measure of success is possible. Even these athletes do not compare well when competing against other sportsmen from around the world. How do sportsmen in countries without compulsory NS fair? Let us investigate a bit further.

In the Olympic Games, the usual powerhouses that garner the most medals include countries like China, USA, Russia, Australia, Britain, Germany, and to a certain extend South Korea and Japan. Do these countries have compulsory military service? The answer is no. A logical conclusion here is that their athletes have unimpeded paths towards their sporting ambitions and peak performance in sports. Of course some might argue that these countries are large in terms of their population size. China has a population of 1.3 billion. Surely, from these mass of people, champions for various sports can be found. That is true. Let us now examine countries with similar population as Singapore and compare their sport achievements.

A search on the internet will reveal that the following countries have comparable population size as Singapore (5m); Norway (4.8m), Ireland (4.5m), Croatia (4.4m), New Zealand (4.3m), Finland (5.3m) and Denmark (5.5m). What strikes you as you view this list? These are all countries with well known sports achievements despite their limited population size. The three Scandinavian Countries listed above have won in access of 350 Gold Medals in all Olympics Games, and they are also well represented in World Sports Events. Norway and Denmark has featured in many football World Cups. Finland is consistent in producing NHL professional ice-hockey players. As for Ireland and Croatia, they have won 8 and 3 Olympic Gold medals respectively in their history. But let us not forget these two countries are also power houses in other sports. Ireland features highly in World Cup Football, Rugby and even golf. Croatia produces the best water-polo and handball teams regularly on the World Stage. Need we say more about New Zealand? Apart from the All Blacks, New Zealand has also produced 36 Olympic Gold in their history. These countries did not have huge population bases like China and Russia, but yet they have been consistently successful in peak performance in sports. By the way, did I mention that these countries have no compulsory military service for their citizens?

If we change our perspective and look at a country that Singapore is modeled after, maybe the effect of NS on sports become clearer. Israel has a population of 7.5m, a fraction greater than Singapore’s. They also have compulsory military service because of their security concerns. How many Olympic Gold Medals have they won? One. Are they prominent in other international sports? Not quite yet. Israel like Singapore has also been actively sending contingents for major competitions, but successes are far and few. The question is ‘has compulsory military service somehow affected their sporting achievements?’ If we look at the evidence presented here, we cannot deny the fact that NS does have a part to play in limiting peak performance in sports.

NS takes away the prime period of an athlete’s development. At 17-20 years of age, our body is reaching their full sporting potential. This is the time whereby, sports talents need to be continuously nurtured. The disruption caused by NS will break this important cycle and de-motivate our athletes to stop sports development in their lives. How many of our national school record breakers continue on to run and swim beyond their school and NS years? Hardly. Imagine how much achievement is possible if these athletes are supported and encouraged to continue on training in their sports. The sporting achievement for Singapore can be so much more than what we have achieved so far.

There are of course opponents to freeing these athletes up for full time sports development. Many argue that not doing NS will break the social fabric of Singapore. Many parents of servicemen feel that it is unfair for their sons to serve NS while sportsmen ‘take the easy way out’. There is no denying that NS is important. We must never take that away. Our very security and prosperity depends on it. But we are also at an age of dynamic change whereby different peaks of excellence are important in nation building. We need to add on to our social fabric by sewing on peak performance in sports and other areas. And people who contribute to these areas are far and few. Hence, if we are to achieve more sporting success, we must have policies that support these talented people; otherwise they will never reach their full potential because we as a nation have snuffed out the passion for these areas. What of those who feel that sports an easy way is out compared to serving NS? My answer to these critics is that they have never gone through what a true top class sports person has gone through. In many ways, the training regime of a top class athlete is more demanding than a typical NSF in Singapore. If you do not believe, try training twice a day, seven days a week. Try, eating sports diets seven days a week. Try foregoing social life for a few years to train for a competition. It is a tough job to try and win a Gold Medal.