We are many. Can we be as one?

My Price and Value post earlier this week seems to have struck chords with some performance analysts.

The post has become one of the most read posts on Clyde Street and there were some important exchanges on Twitter. I have been reflecting on these responses and this is a follow up post.

The title of this post comes from the lyrics of an Australian song

We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come …
I am, you are, we are …

I am sorry about my naivety in using these but they do resonate with me about the next phase in performance analysis.

We have to address these kinds of issues:

Lucy Rushton

Couldn’t agree more As we have to make a stand. We cannot continue to devalue ourselves in this way Its too easy to say ‘thats football {insert sport name}’. It’s not. Its what we have created & accepted. We cant let our passion for our job continue to be exploited

Amber Luzar

And it doesn’t take long for the novelty to wear off and the 60+ hours a week you work feeling extremely undervalued…for the love and growth of sport, this must change, to keep world class analysts continuing to be world class!

Jason Lear

The same issues seem to raise its head every couple of months and its sad that no collective exists to adopt the broader industry arguments. We remain or seem fragmented and easy to deflect by employers.

Lance Du’Lac

Time seems right to come together and change that then.

I am mindful that in starting this part of an occupational culture discussion, I do have responsibilities in an actionable conversation.

My commitment is to go away and do some comprehensive research about practice that I can share with the community.

In asking if we can be one, I am not asserting an homogeneous view of performance analysis and analytics. I want to celebrate diversity and different epistemic cultures.

A starting point for me is to engage with cultures whose first language is not English. I am critical of my own anglo-centric emphasis.

A second point is to discuss gendered identity in performance analysis and the languages we use to describe performance analysis practice.

Thirdly, I want to continue to advocate for our community to share practice openly so that we can have transparent conversations about our culture. (And support those who give their time and energy to connect our community.)

Fourthly, I think this is a conversation we must have with professional organisations, institutes of sport, and sport organisations.

This is where we can become one … through mutual recognition. It is my fight but it could be our shared fight if it is right for you.

I hope you do not mind me ending with music. When I think about what we can do together, I have this kind of performance in mind, at the end of a long day concert.

I will be back, possibly on drums.

Photo Credit

Baby’s hand (Fruity monkey, CC BY 2.0)



I saw this alert five days ago

I went to Charlie’s blog post on the Visual Performance Analysis site and tried to comment on a delightful, challenging post. At that time, the site thought I was a Spambot. I am not but I missed the opportunity to support and reply to Charlie immediately.

I applaud Charlie’s willingness to address the accreditation issues head on.

In the intervening time Jason Lear and Rob Carroll have responded in detail. My post is a contribution to the discussion.

I am really pleased Charlie has shared the findings of his investigation into performance analysis. His post notes that respondents to his questionnaire about the role of performance analyst considered “being accredited was ranked the least important personal attribute required for the role”.

Charlie suggests that we need accreditation “to be relevant and current to meet the expectations of the growing number of analysts and potentially provide a broader remit”. He cites the example of the United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning Association (UKSCA). This Association aims to:

  • Establish and maintain high professional standards for UK Strength and Conditioning Practitioners;
  • Promote and disseminate good practice, knowledge and research appropriate to strength and conditioning practitioners;
  • Facilitate communication among UKSCA members;
  • Represent the interests of the membership of the UKSCA.

The UKSA website indicates that there are 2700 members of the Association and 590 accredited members. I learned that “The UKSCA is a not-for-profit, limited by guarantee company and is managed by a voluntary Board of Directors, elected from and by the Accredited membership”.

I agree with Charlie (and Jason’s detailed response) that we must value, encourage and support continuing professional development (CPD). My hope has always been that the open sharing of CPD will enrich our performance analysis community of practice. I think these experiences can become the progressive learning programs Jason envisages that “will ensure the industry and members see accreditation as a career driver and goal setter and not just a retrospective acknowledger”.

Charlie concludes his post with these observations:

I feel something needs to be done to safeguard our industry, while helping new analysts build a career. I believe this has to come partly through a functioning and structurally relevant accreditation and CPD programme. ISPAS could form part of the bigger picture of the industry, focussing on the elements it has historically delivered well i.e. facilitating academic conferences and publishing scientific proceedings, but is there potential for an alternative body to offer CPD/accreditation components that are crucial for the continued maturation of the industry?

Do we need accreditation?


Rob Carroll has written a thoughtful post in reply to Charlie. Rob suggests “Considering how low employers are valuing accreditation and the effort required to establish a credible awarding body it seems unlikely that the situation will change any time soon. If employers are not valuing it – there is little incentive for people to get accredited” (my emphasis). Later, Rob adds “Accreditation would bring some benefits – not least if it forced people to undertake continuous professional development, but I’m not sure accreditation on it’s own solves many problems – not in the long-term anyway” (my emphasis).

Rob’s concluding points about a governance model for accreditation are well made. We do need industry wide inclusion if we are to have a gold standard for accreditation. This raises fundamental questions about constitutions, fees, accountability and sustainability.

I have been away from BASES for twelve years. I have read the Accreditation Guidelines (version 5, August 2013) and have noted the attention to detail in these guidelines (and for High Performance Sport Accreditation) including a very clear statement about competencies. I understand too the need for an unequivocal code of conduct.

There has been considerable discussion about accreditation of sport scientists in Australia in the last two years. In his discussion of the relevance of accreditation, Kevin Thompson points out:

Accreditation has to be worth possessing if it is to be of any value to a practitioner and a stipulation by an employer provides that value. Similarly an accreditation has to be of value to the industry it serves

I take this reciprocity between the practitioner and employer to be the key to an answer to the question about whether we need accreditation for performance analysis.

Small, Invitational, Transparent … and Compelling

Fifty More Shocks

Charlie, Jason, Rob and many others of late have helped me think about a dynamic accreditation system for performance analysis. I understand that the International Society of Performance Analysis of Sport (ISPAS) has a long standing interest and commitment to accreditation.

I have been wondering how a new approach to accreditation might extend the ISPAS reach in an industry that is now so diverse that many of the skills that are used are so specialist that they are developing their own practice in applied settings.

I am thinking that this new approach can be modest and small (to address Rob’s governance issues). We can use our shared expertise to promote a code of conduct and to be open about our practice. Using social media will give the group an extended reach and opportunities to share and connect through CPD or new practice.

By being open about what we do we could create a space that is sufficiently attractive to set up compelling reasons to participate and engage.

I envisage this space not to be about levels but to be about experience. We would have a knowledge network that is particularly adaptable to new forms of communicating and sharing.

If a small number of people can consent to a shared understanding of what it is to be accredited then the ripple effect could be significant.

In an era of open badges for accreditation we will be able to use our imagination for how we are and can be.

A Vinyl Record?


So far, Charlie’s post has received two comments (mine would have been the third) and has generated a number of Twitter exchanges.

Our reach is small. Clarence Fisher helped me think about this scale today when he posted about Blogs are the Vinyl records of the Internet. He quotes a Washington Post observation:

Just as vinyl records are still listened to, and considered better than the digital format, they exist without having a real impact on the music industry. In effect, blogs are the vinyl records of the Internet.

I think we have a most remarkable industry. I was knocking on sport organisations’ doors from the mid-1980s hoping to persuade them that performance analysis was the future. In the 1990s I tried (with Mike Hughes) to persuade BASS and BASES that accreditation for notational performance analysis was innovative.

Now we have a most wonderfully diverse group of performance analysts who might like to share experience and practice … and without too much pressure consider an accreditation process that will evolve to include experience, expertise and continuing professional development.

It will be a space for sharing, receiving and giving. Our future is social.

Photo Credits

Rainbow Guard (Bui Linh Ngan, CC BY 2.0)

Fifty More Shocks (Jeremy Brooks, CC BY-NC 2.0)

Vinyl World (Tim, CC BY 2.0)


Going Ahead


Geraint Lewis and Chris Power have a thought-provoking post today in The Conversation.

They point out that one of the key driving forces in science has been ‘spectacular growth in power and storage’. They add that ‘when the Square Kilometre Array starts observing the sky in 2020, it will generate more data on its first day than will have existed on the internet at that time‘.

However, they note that ‘many scientists-in-training are ill-equipped to write software (or code, in the everyday language of a researcher) that is fit-for-purpose’. They continue:

For this reason, it is probably unsurprising that many fields are awash with poor, inefficient codes, and data-sets too extensive to be properly explored.

This is exacerbated by a system that values the publication of scientific results. Geraint and Chris conclude:

  • Science needs to make a cultural change in understanding on what makes a good modern scientist.
  • Fertilise links with computer science colleagues.
  • Develop a career structure that rewards those who make the tools that allow Big Science to happen.

I really enjoyed Geraint and Chris’s paper. Their ideas resonate with me at a time when I am thinking about meta-activities in learning organisations. They resonate too with my interest in dynamic forms of accreditation generally and in performance analysis in particular.

I am very attracted to Jason Lear and Darrell Cobner‘s ideas and framework for accreditation of performance analysts linked to continuing professional development. As a result of Geraint and Chris’s thoughts I will be keen to include learning to code in any accreditation framework.

A recent post by Tony Hirst gave me a sense of how we might encourage coding. I thought his presentation to journalism students at the University of Lincoln was exactly the kind of open resource that might be included in emerging Vocational Open Online Courses (VOOCs). In these contexts, paper publication is peripheral to personal learning and development. They have a clear industry focus.

Donald Clark writes:

We’ve gone for a solution that taps directly into subject matter expertise – experienced practitioners, experienced course designers and a delivery mechanism that goes straight to potential learners. That’s really what the  ‘Napsterisation’ of learning is all about, the democritisation, decentralisation and disintermediation of learning.

I think an industry wide open online course in coding for performance analysis would harvest to rich and diverse experiences of the community that go beyond a single institution … so that many of us are able to deal with the oncoming flood of data in our own practice. This practice itself we be iterated through open sharing.

In doing so we might be mindful of Alan Alda’s advice about communicating science: ‘Communication is not something you add on to science, it is of the essence of science’.

Photo Credit

Reviewing code (hercios, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)