Price and Value as a Performance Analyst

Background

This post what I think Mark Upton calls a fragment. It is my attempt to pull together some strands in a debate I need to explore.

It is a debate about valuing people not pricing them.

I have an apology to make at the outset.

In a post written yesterday,  I mentioned that I had been discussing internships with the Australian Catholic University’s  2018 cohort of the Graduate Certificate in Performance Analysis course.

I did not make it explicit (hence my apology) that it was a lively discussion and I used the word ‘slavery’ and talked about ‘minimum living wages’. It started with a question about the Leicester City performance analysis job description.

Thanks to my connector, Darrell Cobner, I learned that this conversation was going on in Atlanta too.

Amber Luzar was one of those who commented in England.

At about the time Lucy posted this, in Strathfield we had reached a Spartacus moment too:

Lance Du’Lac replied to Lucy.

Transformation

During the Strathfield conversation about the Leicester City ‘opportunity’, we discuss the role a cohort of students might play in rejecting an occupational community.

We noted the enormous numbers of people graduating in sport science and performance analysis each year and how a personal portfolio in an application might include experiences in a variety of sport settings.

My argument was that the #ACUGCPA18 Strathfield mob could accept that they are engaged in a transactional relationship with their industry and ‘volunteer’ for unpaid internships with the employer waxing lyrical about the kudos attached to working with for them without pay. And with that dreadful enticement about the possibility of paid employment at some future date should budgets permit.

We discussed the prisoner’s dilemma inherent in this transaction … if I do not do it, somebody else will (namely, “why two completely ‘rational’ individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interests to do so”).

Our conversation moved on to become a transformational performance analyst. What would it take for all of us not to be complicit in an industry that deludes us?

What if as a collective group we could take a moral stand even at a personal cost? And assert our value rather than our price (or non-price) as sentient human beings who have a passion for the analysis of performance in sport.

I had a three-hour drive home from Strathfield to think about the conversation we had.

On my way home, I stopped for coffee and this job advertisement popped up from a football team in England:

The club is recruiting a performance analyst to implement a variety of analysis strategies/methods to aid the performance of all first team players.

Reporting to First team management the successful candidate will be responsible for developing and implementing cutting edge analysis for the first team. This will incorporate:

Recording and analyse matches

To provide appropriate and effective video analysis sessions for all individual and positional groups within the first team environments

In collaboration with the first team management, monitor and evaluate team and individual KPIs

Maintain a database of games/sessions filmed for future use.

Use a variety of software packages when performing analysis tasks.

Contribute to accessibility of performance analysis support for players and coaches.

Provide motivational or supportive material to be utilised by coaches and players when required.

Liaise with coaches in preparation for analysis sessions.

Assisting with the organisation and training of students and/or interns.

Providing supportive material for upcoming and previous games

The candidate must be able to demonstrate the following:

Essential:

Hold a sports coaching/science related degree.

Level 3 coaching certificate

Experience using coding and video editing software (SportCode, IMovie, Hudl etc.).

Must be completely IT literate (Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and IOS equivalents).

Experience/knowledge of the PMA system

Hold a valid full UK driver’s licence.

Must have excellent communication skills.

Must be dynamic, hardworking and enthusiastic.

Desirable:

Masters or degree in Performance Analysis, Coaching or Sports Science related subject area.

Desire to conduct research to contribute to the development of the Analysis department

Previous experiences of first team football.

Salary: To be confirmed

The successful candidate will be required to work a 6 month probation period.

I thought about driving back to Strathfield!

Dazzled by certification and accreditation

One of this year’s cohort of students in performance analysis does not have a degree. ACU used their recognition of prior learning to acknowledge the student’s twenty years in the sport industry, part of which has been to use innovative visualisation techniques to share information with coaches and athletes. The student’s day job is working with a data analytics company collecting real-time game data.

The student was surprised and delighted that ACU accepted him.

I am mindful that I no longer meet students on a daily basis but I am concerned that job descriptions regard an undergraduate degree as essential and a Masters degree as desirable for a post in performance analysis.

My concern is that performance analysts on different learning pathways in an era of open access, self-directed learning are excluded for sharing their work.

I wondered if this might change if job descriptions were an invitation to audition for the role of performance analyst. At that audition, the employer must share an explicit strategy for analysis and provide details about any mentoring or critical friend support the applicant might require or benefit from.

This dilemma of a mandated qualification is enhanced when formal accreditation such as ESSA’s sport scientist level 1 requires:

Documented evidence of a qualification in exercise, sports or movement science at Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) Level 7 (or an international equivalent) leading to the award of a three-year bachelor degree.

In this context, I find it ironic that ESSA values cultural diversity (“sports scientists need an awareness of cultural diversity to enable them to shape and deliver their services in a culturally aware and sensitive manner”).

A colleague who has twenty years experience of analysis in a national sporting organisation does not meet these criteria despite being acknowledge as an industry example of better practice.

I am not arguing for no standards but want to assert that accreditation and certification are a pathway not the pathway.

Fragments

We are on the cusp of another great wave of development in performance analysis. Few of us remember the analogue era. Most are from a digital world.

My argument is that at the cusp of a post-digital occupational culture in performance analysis, we can support each other by challenging and rejecting unpaid and underpaid work.

We can in my utopian sense, celebrate our shared humanity. Performance analysis is an exciting career but not at any cost.

We should value each other and be valued by sport.

As I was compiling this, a number of other alerts came my way including:

ReGen18

ReGen18 will not be another talk-fest, but a task-force and learning ground with growing real-world impact year-on-year. It will launch a purpose-driven community to share practical tools, powerful ideas, new business models and innovative finance mechanisms to accelerate the change we need at the speed of the problems we now face.

Safe, happy and free (Tarja Halonen):

We live in a cold, harsh and remote place. Every person has to work hard for themselves. But that is not always enough. You have to help your neighbours.

Yesterday, groups in Strathfield (NSW), Atlanta, the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as the Twittersphere were thinking about our neighbours.

We can do this together but not alone.

Photo Credits

Durran Durra Fire (Queanbeyan RFS)

Keith Lyons (CC BY 4.0)

Sharing Sport Science and Sport Medicine Principles

The Australian Institute of Sport has proposed principles for sport science and sport medicine as “a practical guide to assist boards and senior management of sporting organisations in performing their oversight function” in relation to Sport Science and Sport Medicine practices. (Official announcement here.)

There is an introductory video:

The principles cover five key areas:

  1. Staff integrity and capability (the qualifications of sports science and medicine staff and their adherence to a code of conduct)
  2. Sport Science and Sport Medicine policy framework (a regularly reviewed supplements policy, medication policy and injection policy)
  3. Education (of coaches, athletes and staff in relation to Sport Science and Sport Medicine policies and any changes which take place)
  4. Detection and enforcement (clearly defined sanctions for breaches of Sport Science and Sport Medicine policy and a confidential process to report suspected breaches)
  5. Oversight and reporting (a required reporting framework to the boards and senior management to ensure they are informed of Sport Science and Sport Medicine practices and discharge their obligations to make sure practices are up to date and follow best practice)

They are available for download at AIS Sports Science Sports Medicine Best Practice Principles (PDF).

5169282378_a62c7bbafdThe Principles appear at a time when the integrity of Australian sport is under intense scrutiny. In addition to the ongoing ACC and ASADA investigations, there is a growing debate about legislation to curb gambling advertising.

On 17 May the Australian Senate voted to establish an enquiry into sports science. The text of the motion was:

That the following matter be referred to the Rural Affairs and Transport Committee for inquiry and report by 27 June 2013:
The practice of sports science in Australia with regard to:
a) The current scope of practice, accreditation and regulation arrangements, for the profession;
b) the role of Boards and Management in the oversight of sports scientists inside sporting organisations;
c) the duty of care of sports scientists to athletes, and the ethical obligations of sports scientists in relation to protecting and promoting the spirit of sport;
d) avenues for reform or enhanced regulation of the profession;
e) any other related matter.

These five points (including the wide-ranging (e)) form the terms of reference of the Committee

Exercise and Sports Science Australia released its support for the Enquiry in this statement.

Earlier this year, Kevin Thompson (a colleague at the University of Canberra), discussed the need for proper accreditation. In his article in The Conversation, Kevin observed:

Australian sport should work more closely with Exercise and Sports Science Australia to deliver an industry-standard accreditation system which insures that sport scientists require accreditation to gain employment. Such an accreditation system should value competency and evidence-based practise and allow existing practitioners with years of experience, but who might not possess a PhD, to gain accreditation.

I am keen to support and encourage any system that uses open audit to assure the integrity of sport.

I do think, like Kevin, we should value experience and avoid an over-credentialised approach to assurance.

We can do this as a community of practice accepting our responsibilities as custodians of a play spirit that is nourished by a fundamental ethical commitment to professional and Professional behaviour.

Photo Credit

Cross-country (Herald Post ,CC BY-NC 2.0)