Does the Media Impact Athletic Performance?

“It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, who knows the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory or defeat.”–26th President Theodore Roosevelt

Introduction

Many books, articles, and papers have been published relative to the relationship between an athlete’s mental state and his or her performance. A point of consensus clearly stated in these sources is that athletic performance efficiency is reduced by distraction. It is believed that distractions interfere with an athlete’s ability to focus. Distractions evoke negative mood responses, detrimental arousal and anxiety levels, and stress, thus resulting in the consumption of mental energy. Mental energy is a vital element needed to be able to concentrate one’s attention and maintain a positive mental attitude. By concentrating effectively, an athlete can conserve physical energy by maintaining good technique and focus, executing skills properly, and pushing the body through pain and fatigue barriers. Time spent fretting over distractions drains mental energy so that performance suffers (Manktelow, 2006). As Haverstraw (2002) noted, distractions may arise from various sources including: the presence of loved ones you want to impress, family or relationship problems, teammates and other competitors, coaches, underperformance or unexpected high performance, frustration at mistakes, poor refereeing decisions, changes in familiar patterns, unjust criticism, and the media.

The purpose of this paper is to initiate an examination of the influence of the media as a distraction and its impact on athletic performance. For the purposes of this paper it is important to have a common definition and understanding of media, arousal, stress, anxiety, and mood. Media will be defined as individuals who publicly report or make public statements relative to an athlete’s performance. In this context, media can be newspaper reporters, paparazzi, television newscasters, or fans and critics who publicize their critiques of athletic performance through the use of public forums and blogs.

In order to differentiate between arousal, anxiety, and stress in this text, specific definitions will be used. Arousal will refer to a state of alertness as the body prepares itself for action. It is associated with increases in physiological and psychological activity, such as heart rate and attention (Landers, 1980). Stress is defined as a state that results from the demands that are placed on the individual which require that person to engage in some coping behavior (Jones, 1990). Anxiety results when one doubts his or her ability to cope with the situation that causes him or her stress (Hardy et al., 1996). Additionally, for this text, mood is defined as a group of persistent feelings associated with evaluative and cognitive states which influence all the future evaluations, feelings, and actions (Amado-Boccara et al., 1993). Now that there is a common understanding of these terms, it is important to understand their relationship to athletic performance.

Arousal and Anxiety

In the field of Sport Psychology, many models have been created to explore arousal and anxiety levels as they relate to athletic performance. Following criticisms of lack of support, popular unidimensional models such as the Inverted U-Theory and the Catastrophe Theory are being replaced with multidimensional-type models (Weinberg, 1990). The Multidimensional Anxiety Theory by Martens et al. (1990), for instance, focuses on the anxiety response that accompanies high levels of stress. It takes into consideration two different elements: cognitive anxiety and somatic anxiety. Cognitive anxiety signifies distractions which involve inability to concentrate, disruptions in attention, and negative performance expectations (Martens et al., 1990). Additionally, the somatic anxiety element signifies perceived physiological arousal such as elevated heart rate and increased perspiration (Martens et al., 1990). In general, The Multidimensional Anxiety Theory hypothesizes that as cognitive anxiety increases, athletic performance decreases. Also, it concludes that an inverted-U relationship explains the correlation between somatic anxiety and athletic performance. This inverted-U relationship illustrates that as somatic anxiety increases from low to moderate levels, there is an associated improvement in performance. Performance level decreases, however, once intensity levels either exceed or fall below this moderate range (Davidson & Schwartz, 1976).

Arousal and Stress

In sport competition, athletes must often think fast and make sharp decisions regarding the task at hand. For example, when a basketball player is receiving a pass from a teammate, he or she must complete necessary cognitive functions quickly in order to catch the pass. According to a model created by A.F. Sanders, one entity that may affect one’s cognitive functions is arousal level. If the basketball player exhibits a low level of arousal, his or her perception declines. However, the player’s perception is sped up with a high level of arousal. When the arousal level is too high, though, perception becomes less efficient. Additionally, Sanders proposes that stress commonly results from one’s failed efforts in correcting a level of arousal that is too high or too low. Moreover, high levels of stress accompany increased anxiety (Sanders, 1983).

Mood

Sport psychologists, coaches, and others are eager to learn how to tailor athletes to perform at the highest level possible. In their attempts to accomplish this, mood in relationship to performance is being studied. Lane and Terry (2000) created a conceptual model of mood and performance. In this model, the authors focus on mood during pre-competition and its effects on subsequent performance. It is suggested that pre-competitive mood influences athletic behavior. Depressed mood, specifically, acts as a catalyst for reduced vigor, increased anger, confusion, fatigue, and tension, thereby debilitating performance (Mellalieu, 2003). These depressive symptoms involve negative cognitive views individuals have of themselves in relation to their past, present, and future social experiences.

To examine influences on elite athlete performance, Greenleaf et al. (2001) interviewed Olympians from the Atlanta and Nagano Olympic Games. Although positive factors existed, the Olympians cited many negative factors influencing performance. One such factor noted was media distractions. It was found that factors, such as media distraction, are psychological in nature, thus, demonstrating the importance that mental factors play in elite sport performance (Greenleaf et al., 2001).

The theoretical and empirical data regarding arousal, anxiety, stress, and mood will be used to explore the influence media may have on athletic performance. In order to apply this information, it is necessary to first provide the following individual examples where media may have impacted athletic performance.

Media’s Influence on Athletic Performance

Many athletes are targets of media prey. Win or lose, their performance and life is publicly dissected by the media. Winning brings about media glorification and expectation, and/or jealousy and criticism. Losing brings forth negative judgment and more criticism. Howard Ferguson (1990) in his book, The Edge, said, “Criticism can be easily avoided by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. Mediocre people play it safe and avoid criticism at all costs. Champions risk criticism every time they perform.” One such athlete who risked media criticism was Miki Ando.

Miki Ando was a two-time Japanese national figure skating champion and 2004 Junior World champion. She also became the first female skater to successfully complete a quadruple jump in competition. Ando is very popular in Japan and receives a lot of attention from gossip magazines and other Japanese media. Ando’s athletic performance struggled in 2005 and 2006, and media coverage turned negative. When the Japanese Skating Federation (JSF) selected her to be on its 2006 Olympic woman’s figure skating team, the press said she did not deserve to go to Torino. They also frowned on her for wearing mini skirts. The JSF was so concerned media coverage would negatively affect Ando as she prepared for the Olympics, they sent formal written requests to several magazine publishers asking them to cut back on their coverage (NBC, 2006).

The JSF was not the only organization concerned with media impact on their 2006 Olympic athletes. The Canadian Olympic Committee (2006) recognized the potential of the media as a distraction to their athletes as well. In an effort to divert any negative media influence, the Committee publicly announced the following communications objective in their victory management plan: A media training section emphasizing the notion to support athletic performance by removing media as a distraction (Canadian Olympic Committee, 2006).

Were these concerns founded? Some in the Republic of China believe so. After China won the first gold medal in the 2004 Olympic Games and had some major unexpected wins during the first few days of Olympic competition, Chinese newspaper and television stations touted predictions of gold medals their athletes would claim. The predictions, however, did not come to fruition. Athletes the media advertised would take first, such as the Chinese male gymnasts, did not even make it to the award stand. Badminton player Lin Dan was beaten in the first round of competition and Ma Lin, China’s top table tennis player, was defeated by 20th-ranked Swede Jan-Ove Waldner (China Daily, 2004).

On August 19, 2004, China Daily blamed the losses on exaggerated hypes of gold made by the media. The editorial claimed the hype caused the athletes to become overconfident and resulted in athletic incompetence. Chinese diver Peng Bo agreed. After his partner’s last-minute error cost the men’s springboard double gold, Peng Bo said, “We’re ordinary people. We feel pressure, and sometimes we can’t help having some distracting thoughts. Please understand us” (China Daily, 2004).

At the 2006 Torino Olympics, Ando did not quite meet the gold medal goal coveted by all Olympian athletes. She placed eighth in the Ladies figure skating short program and 15th in the freestyle competition. Canada’s athletes, however, exceeded the expectations of many by leaving Torino with a best-ever 24 medals, the third-most of any country (CBC, 2006). Whether or not Ando’s less than expected performance was a result of media distraction, or the Canadian athletes’ successes were a direct result of media discipline is hard to say, but should be explored further.

Because there have been no empirical examinations on the influence of the media on athletic performance, the following will provide examples of some famous athletes who have been subjected to intense media scrutiny, provide their reaction to the media attention, and present the impact, if any, the media had on their athletic performance.

The Stones that Critics Hurl

Kenny Rogers

Baseball player Kenny Rogers has had a volatile relationship with media. During the 2005 season, Rogers refused to talk to media after they published a report saying he would retire if the Rangers did not give him a contract extension. Then on June 29, 2005, while walking onto the field for a pre-game warm-up, he had an altercation with two cameramen. Rogers first shoved Fox Sports Net Southwest photographer David Mammeli, yelling at him to get the cameras out of his face. Next, Rogers charged cameraman Larry Rodriguez, wrestled the camera from him, threw it to the ground, and kicked it.

As a result of the tirade, Rodgers was suspended and fined. Before all of his run-ins with the media, Rogers was having a career best season. However, following the suspension, in his August 11, 2005 return to the mound, Rogers allowed five runs and seven hits in five innings, on the way to a 16 to 5 loss. He also gave up a two-run homer in the all star game where he was booed by the crowd.

This indicates a possible causal relationship between stress and the media influence on Rogers. His adversarial relationship with the press caused him to publicly lose his temper and become violent, which cost him playing time, salary, and the respect of the fans. Moreover, it affected his performance and his season’s statistics declined (ESPN, 2006).

Ricky Williams

David Swerdlick’s editorial Ricky Williams – Just Let Him Be, discusses how the constant pressure of the media drove collegiate and professional football standout, Ricky Williams, to quit the sport he loved. According to Swerdlick (2005), Ricky Williams suffered with a debilitating social anxiety disorder and extreme shyness. The aggressive media attention was uncomfortable and frightening for him. In his early pro years he dreaded doing interviews so much he wore his helmet and an eye shade inside his face mask.

The article claims that in order to cope with all the unwanted media attention Williams smoked marijuana. As a result, he failed three NFL drug tests and experienced further embarrassing press. Superstar NFLer, Ricky Williams, loved the sport, but couldn’t handle the media attention that comes with greatness. Swerlick asserts that the media negatively impacted this athlete. Ricky Williams walked out on the Miami Dolphins; lost millions of dollars; lost the respect of his teammates and fans; and still finds himself as media fodder (Swerdlick, 2005). Many disagree with this conclusion, however, as is indicated on numerous blogs. One such blog critic instead credits Williams’s early departure with his overriding desire to smoke marijuana (Sportscolumn.com, 2004).

Mike Tyson

Iron Mike Tyson’s quick rise to the top of professional boxing made him one of the most publicized and admired boxers of all times. His personal turmoil, however, such as being convicted of raping Miss Black America and his volatile escapades such as biting off the ear of opponent, Evander Holyfield, made him one of the most media criticized boxers of all times.

Up until the early 1990s, Tyson, to many boxing enthusiasts, seemed unbeatable. He earned numerous championship titles such as: World Boxing Council (WBC) Heavyweight Title, World Boxing Association (WBA) Heavyweight Title, and International Boxing Federation (IBF) Heavyweight Title. However, as his personal life became mired in legal difficulties, the media had an increased negative focus when reporting about him, and concurrently, Tyson lost all of his previously earned professional boxing titles. His sudden decline in performance may be tied to negative and excessive media attention, effecting his training and mental state. Days prior to a comeback fight, in an interview by writer John Raygoza, Tyson was asked if it bothers him when the media writes negative things about him. He responded, “It’s my job to beat people and win fights…and it’s their job to sell papers. Everything that could’ve been said about Mike Tyson has already been said. I don’t take it personally like I use to.” Here, Tyson admits that the media criticism did impact him but he is beyond that. One has to wonder, though, as Tyson was knocked out in the fourth round of that fight, and his boxing career ended on that night (Raygoza, 2004).

Only the Mentally Strong Survive

The above were examples of athletes whose performance was negatively impacted by media. Tony Dorsett, legendary NFL halfback, said: “You can turn the negative around and use it as a motivating force in your life. One of my biggest desires has always been to prove certain people wrong-to prove to them I can do it despite what they think or say” (Ferguson, 1990).

Like Dorsett, some athletes are able to strive under intense media scrutiny by using it as motivation to achieve success. The following are several reports of athletes who have been able to survive and thrive in spite of the media.

Venus And Serena

In the world of tennis, two standout sisters have received more than their share of negative press. Venus and Serena Williams are not your typical small, cutesy, white, female tennis players. They are black, muscular, and solid. They win with their hard hitting, hard return, power-games. Not only does the media write and talk about them due to them not fitting the stereotypical construct of the usual tennis player, Venus and Serena are also known and criticized for the exotic, colorful, and tight fitting attire they wear on the court.

The two girls grew up in a poor, Los Angeles neighborhood. They could not afford tennis lessons or even tennis balls. Their dad taught them the game from books; they used worn equipment; and they practiced on rundown tennis courts. To illustrate, Venus and Serena’s father comments on the environment and conditions his daughters experienced during practices in East Compton Park, California: “It’s a radical neighborhood. A lot of dope is sold. We play on two courts — that’s all there is –and they look like trash, they’re so slippery” (Sports Illustrated, 2006).

Instead of being commended for overcoming disadvantage, Venus and Serena are criticized and negatively portrayed by media. Those in the tennis world and media constantly criticize that Venus and Serena are not skilled athletes…just hard hitting. Through all of the media attention, however, Venus and Serena have proven tremendous mental toughness that has served them well in their progress and maturation. The girls countered the media by rising to the top of their games and raising the bar for all (Loving, 2002).

Colin Montgomerie

Colin Montgomerie, one of Europe’s top golf pros, has had his share of ups and downs. Among his many accomplishments are victories at the European Tour Order of Merit every year from 1993 to 1999. During this era, he was consistently ranked in the top 10 in the Official World Golf Rankings, reaching the number two ranking at his peak. Then in 2003 and 2004, he began having personal and performance problems, and his ranking slumped to the eighties. To make matters worse, he became the victim of media and fan abuse. Media publicly questioned his ability, and fans called him names, such as Mrs. Doubtfire, because of his noticeable weight gain.

Initially, the negative media and fan criticism had an impact on him and his performance. According to an article written in Golf Today, not only was he performing really badly in an Open Tournament, he was so upset by media criticism he threatened to pull out of the Scandinavian Masters (Lexus Internet Limited, 2002). Moreover, Martin (2002) reported that because of negative media coverage Montgomerie even considered taking a break from the sport.

Eventually though, Montgomerie overcame the criticism and made a comeback in 2005, where he won another European Tour Order of Merit and returned to the top ten in the World Golf Rankings.

Clinton Portis

Washington Redskins running back, Clinton Portis, during the 2005-2006 season, was known for wearing outrageous costumes and playing odd characters during media interviews. In one such costume, he dressed up as a made-up character named “Sheriff Gonna Getcha”. He wore a long, black wig, glasses with oversized eyes, a Led Zeppelin T-shirt, a star-shaped badge, and an unusual necklace. In another interview, he showed up in a black cape, black Lone Ranger mask, clown-style oversized yellow sunglasses, a shaggy black wig, and fake gold teeth. He also created outrageous names for his costumes such as: Dr. I Don’t Know, Dolla Bill, Rev Gonna Change, Kid Bro Sweets, and Coach Janky Spanky (Solomon, 2006).

The stand-out athlete started this charade of characters after being traded by the Denver Broncos to the Washington Redskins in 2004. He was uncomfortable on this new team and had trouble scoring touchdowns. To deflect negative press questions he began dressing up in costumes, and had fun with the press. Five of his teammates got in on the act as well. During one interview, they joined Portis by dressing up in crazy get-ups calling themselves “Clinton’s” Angels. Many may view these stunts as foolish, however, Portis’s tactics proved successful. Instead of negative reporting by the press, the press had fun with the parade of characters and concentrated on this instead of the team’s performance. Portis not only started scoring touchdowns, he broke the Redskins’ record for the most rushing yards in a season in 2006 and became the third runner in league history to reach 1,500 yards in three of his first four seasons (Solomon, 2006). With media criticism gone, the team went from a losing record to playoff contenders. This is a case where media impact could have contributed to poor performance on the field. Instead, Portis used the media to have fun, loosen up the team, and motivate himself (Solomon, 2006).

Application to Theory

Throughout this paper there have been examples of athletes whose performance was impacted by media. Some let media distraction impact them negatively. Kenny Rogers’s ordeal may be explained by Lane and Terry’s (2000) conceptual model of mood and performance. In Roger’s case, media distraction triggered his increased anger and tension, a result of depressed mood. Lane and Terry’s finding that depressed mood is debilitating to performance is evident as Rogers’s potentially career best season quickly declined following the media incident. Ricky Williams experienced much stress as he struggled with the constant pressure and media attention. According to The Multidimensional Anxiety Theory, by Marten et al. (1990), the anxiety responses Williams encountered may be due to elevated stress levels. Specifically, Williams’s increased cognitive anxiety response, due to disruptions in attention and concentration, led to decreased performance. However, Williams tried to counteract his increased cognitive anxiety with the calming effects of marijuana. In Mike Tyson’s situation, The Multidimensional Anxiety Theory and Lane and Terry’s conceptual model of mood and performance are essential in explaining the impact media had on Tyson’s drastic change in performance. Following the extensive media criticisms relating to many of Tyson’s problems and controversial incidents, Tyson’s legendary boxing performances rapidly declined. Decreased concentration, a result of increased cognitive anxiety, affected Tyson’s training prior to competition. Also, during performance, Tyson experienced somatic anxiety levels above a moderate range, thus decreasing his performance. This is evident from the inverted U-relationship. Furthermore, Tyson’s mental state prior to competition, negatively affected his performance. Tyson may have exhibited depressive symptoms which include negative cognitive views individuals take of themselves in relation to their past, present, and future social experiences. If Tyson possessed depressive mood, the effects of increased anger, heightened fatigue, increased confusion, and reduced vigor immensely hindered his performance.

Other athletes, however, used media distraction as inspiration to succeed. Venus and Serena Williams, Colin Montgomerie, and Clinton Portis employed their own coping strategies to deal with the media while flourishing in competition. There are many techniques an athlete can use to overcome the media hurdles. Many hire sports psychologists or counselors. Sport psychology consultants can work with athletes to strengthen their mental preparedness in order to enhance and improve athletic performance. Sport psychology consultants are trained to help athletes understand how pressure affects them, and then introduce them to strategies to help them overcome the effects of pressure. The consultant educates athletes on mental techniques such as goal setting, motivation, confidence, relaxation, focus and concentration, team cohesion, and communication (Dunn, 2005). Moreover, sport psychologists are interested not only in helping athletes use psychological principles to enhance athletic performance, but also to achieve optimal mental health when facing tough situations brought about by sport such as pressure from family and fans, harsh comments from coaches, or media criticism.

Positive Vibes

While media has potential to negatively impact athletic performance, this medium can also be used to cultivate or bring out the best in an athlete. In an excerpt from the book, Coaching Wrestling Successfully, Dan Gable, a gold medalist in freestyle wrestling in the 1972 Olympics and former head wrestling coach for the University of Iowa, discuses various ways to motivate wrestlers. Of specific note is his view on using the media as a tool to positively motivate wrestlers. He believes athletes get pumped up from positive media, and media forums should be used extensively as a tool to motivate athletic performance. One specific media outlet he references is the collegiate team’s annual poster. He suggests that if athletes know they will get their picture on the poster if they become an All-American, they are motivated to excel and attain some deserved recognition. He also discussed the advantages of having a media day before the first competition each year. He says this not only serves as a good motivator, but also assists to enhance the athlete’s communication skills in responding to the media. Most importantly, Gable stresses the importance of a coach’s statements to the media and how they can serve as motivators. He believes athletes are inspired when they hear their coach’s positive comments about them (Gable, 1999).

Conclusion

The examples and cases above support the premise that media does impact athletic performance. The cases also reveal or recognize that athletes have two choices: 1) they can succumb to the challenges of media distractions, or 2) they can meet the challenges of media.

American poet Arthur Guiterman wrote, “The stones that critics hurl with harsh intent – a man may use to build a monument”’. As evidenced above, we suggest that a champion can use those stones as momentum to win. Research into the specific mechanisms of how the media influences athletic performance is warranted.

The Idea of Peace as Coubertin’s Vision for the Modern Olympic Movement: Development and Pedagogic Consequences

The Origin of the Idea of Peace in the Modern
Olympic Movement

The Olympic Games took place in ancient Greece 293 times from 776 B.C.
up to 393 A.D., i.e. over a period of almost 12 centuries, in contrast
to modern times without interruption.

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Sports 2.0: A Look at the Future of Sports in the Context of RFID’s “Weird New Media Revolution”

Abstract

This article examines the myriad ways in which RFID (Radio Frequency
Identification) technology will impact the world of sports. In this paper,
we look at how this “weird new media revolution” will have
a transformative impact both on the games themselves and the fans’
experience at the stadium. We will examine how RFID is being used in sport
applications from golf to soccer to racing of all forms to add previously
unimaginable real-time richness and accuracy to the sports. We will also
look at the use of RFID in ticketing and payment applications that will
add security, control, and new revenue streams to sports operations, while
giving enhanced value and services to the fan. We will conclude with a
look at what this new version of Sports 2.0 will mean in the future both
in and out of the sporting arena.

Introduction

RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification, and it is poised to be
the successor technology to the bar code in identifying “things”
in our economy. Using small microchips embedded in objects, RFID can create
unimaginable levels of control and visibility in a whole host of applications.
Evidence of such can be seen in the mandates of major retailers, such
as Wal-Mart, Target, and Albertson’s, along with the U.S. Department
of Defense, to have their suppliers begin affixing RFID-enabled labels
to shipments of goods to their distribution centers (Morphy, 2005, n.p.).
As outlined in Table 1, RFID is currently being employed in a whole host
of areas.


Table 1 – RFID Applications

Traditional RFID Applications Emerging RFID Applications
  • Security/Access Control
  • Electronic Article Surveillance
  • Asset/Fleet Management
  • Mass Transit
  • Library Access
  • Toll Collection
  • Animal Identification
  • Warehouse Management
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Reverse Logistics
  • Shipment Tracking
  • Asset Tracking
  • Retail Management
  • Document Tracking
  • Anti-counterfeit
  • Advance Access Control
  • Mass Transit– Monthly and Single Trip
  • Airline Baggage Handling
  • Aircraft Parts and Tools
  • Health Care Applications
  • Regulatory Compliance
  • Payments

Source: Wyld (2006, p. 159)


While creating new efficiencies in distribution and new opportunities in
retail may mean billions of dollars and while the application of RFID in
pharmaceutical and animal tracking applications may save thousands of lives,
the wide world of sports is no doubt one of the sexiest applications for
RFID on the horizon. It is also an area where RFID can enhance both the
participant and the spectator experience, impacting people’s lives
in a positive manner. As such, innovative companies across the globe are
rushing into sports applications for the technology.

Take golf balls for example. Anyone who has picked-up a golf club has
been there. You hit your drive off the 1st tee, and it goes, and goes,
and goes – where? All golfers have spent countless hours combing
the banks of creeks, looking in crevices, and pouring through thickets
in often fruitless searches for their wayward shots. But what if there
was a high-tech way for the ball to tell you where it was and guide you
to it? Radar Golf is a small company, based in Roseville, California,
seeking to RFID-enable the game of golf with its Radar Golf System. Such
a prospect led Stephanie Stahl (2005), the editor of InformationWeek,
to say that finding lost golf balls may be the “killer app”
for RFID in the consumer world.

Radar Golf has developed a golf ball that is manufactured by a Chinese
contractor that has an RFID tag embedded inside its core. The ball has
been certified as conforming to the rigorous standards of the United States
Golf Association (USGA), enabling it to be used in tournament play. The
company’s patented Ball Positioning System (BPS) is built into a
handheld unit, which is essentially an RFID reader that transmits a specific
radio frequency signal to search for the lost ball. It provides a visual
LCD signal strength display and pulsed audio tone feedback to the golfer
looking for his/her ball, with the beep increasing (like a Geiger counter)
as the golfer nears the location of the wayward ball. The BPS presently
has a detection range of up to 100 feet (LaPedus, 2005). The company began
marketing the system in mid-2005. The Radar Golf System retails for $249,
which includes a dozen golf balls (additional dozen balls sets retail
for $39). It plans to license the technology to other golf ball manufacturers
to equip their branded balls with RFID tags (LaPedus, 2005).

We are seeing that, as with the golf ball example, games themselves can
be enhanced through the use of RFID technology. We are also seeing that
RFID can be used to secure ticketing and enhance the in-stadium spectator
experience. RFID can also create new metrics – and new gambling
opportunities – in the sports world. In this article, we will take
a look at Sports 2.0, as RFID helps reshape the sporting life and experience.

RFID on the Field

RFID is fast getting “in the game,” as we are seeing exciting,
in-event applications of RFID technology in sports ranging from the “beautiful
game” to road racing of every form.

Football (Soccer)

Indeed, the most noteworthy in-game example to date comes in the world’s
most popular sport – football (or soccer as we in the U.S. know
it). The Erlangen, Germany-based Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits
has developed an RFID-based system to give complete visibility to the
soccer field. Both the ball and a shin-guard on each of the twenty-two
players are outfitted with RFID-chips, and readers positioned to scan
the entire field can read the position of both the players and the “Smartball”
up to two thousand times each second. The Fraunhofer system will not only
allow for referees to consult the data to potentially aid in correctly
calling disputed goals and troublesome off-sides penalties, but it will
permit soccer clubs and their fans to access performance metrics on their
teams and individual players. Although FIFA (Fédération
Internationale de Football Association), soccer’s world governing
body, passed on using the technology for the 2006 World Cup, the system
is likely to be approved for tournament use later this year (Collins,
2005).

Racing

We have also seen that RFID can add value and visibility to racing events
of all types. One of the longest standing applications of RFID has been
in the area of marathon racing. The ChampionChip Company pioneered the
use of RFID-chips attached to runners in the Berlin Marathon in 1994.
Since then, the firm’s namesake tracking device has been worn by
millions of road racers, cyclists, in-line skaters, cross-country skiers,
and triathletes in thousands of events worldwide. The tracking device,
which uses passive RFID technology with antennas built into specially-designed
mats over which the athletes must pass, allows for the racers’ real,
net times to be recorded as they pass the start-finish and other intervals
along the course, as well as the “value-add” of for real-time
tracking via the Internet for friends, fans, press, and family members.
It has been used in the New York City Marathon, where five thousand runners
per minute crossed the thirty-six meters-wide starting line at the Verrazano
Narrows Bridge. And in the June 2000 Broloppet Half Marathon, in which
runners raced across the new bridge connecting between Denmark and Sweden,
a record 79,837 competitors were tracked using the ChampionChip (ChampionChip,
2006). Commenting on the state of marathon technology, Judith Donohue,
manager of the HP’s New England Initiative, whose firm has worked
with the Boston Marathon for over a decade, observed: “We’ve come
a long way from when we used to draw a line in the street with chalk”
(quoted in Ewalt, 2004, n.p.).

RFID has moved into a motor racing. Texas Instruments has developed the
Race Timer system for motorcycle racing, in which an RFID transponder
is placed either on the motorcycle’s front fender or in the rider’s
chest protector. The system is a quantum improvement over the former use
of single-file gates and either manual recording or scanning bar codes
attached to riders’ helmets. With the TI system, the size of motorcycle
events can grow significantly, supporting up to one thousand riders in
a single event (Texas Instruments, 2005). RFID has also been adopted by
the IRL (Indy Racing League), with active transponders being positioned
in the same point in the nose of the Indy Car and with antennas positioned
around – and in – the track. With speeds of over two-hundred
miles per hour, the system can distinguish between two or more racecars
passing the same point within 10,000ths of a second of each other. The
system allows for real-time race tracking via the Internet for all IRL
races, including the Indianapolis 500, where antennas are installed in
the track surface in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s famous Yard
of Bricks at the start-finish line of the “Old Brickyard”
as the track is known (Karle, 2004).

While NASCAR has not announced a similar in-race system, the fast-growing
racing circuit is employing RFID for tracking tires used by all racing
teams in its three racing circuits. The system will enable for centralized
control over the Goodyear tires used in NASCAR events, in order to allow
for an even playing field between the race teams and better control over
tire stock (Anonymous, 2005). RFID also presents a very practical advantage
over the former bar-code based labeling of tires for NASCAR events. Goodyear
had in the past attempted to track tire inventory for race teams by applying
bar code labels to the sidewalls. However, they quickly found that the
bar code labels could be intentionally rubbed off or smudged when in use
(Sullivan, 2005). With the new system, the tire inventory is centralized
by NASCAR, and race officials can use handheld readers to quickly scan
both cars and the pits to make sure they have the proper quantity and
type of tires in their possession before, during, and after the races
(Swedberg, 2005).

Finally, in a slower speed form of racing, RFID has been introduced in
the ancient sport of pigeon racing. In the past, to determine timing and
ranking in pigeon races, handlers had to catch pigeons one-by-one and
read an identification number from metal rings attached to their legs.
Today, the standard practice for almost a decade has been to attach RFID-enabled
plastic bands to the birds’ legs with the positioning of antennas
at points along the course from the release point to the home loft (Anonymous,
1997).

RFID in the Arena

RFID-enabled Paper Ticketing

There have been exciting developments recently to integrating RFID chips
into a paper-form ticket. Doing so has several advantages, including:

  • Preventing counterfeiting
  • Promoting security
  • Inhibiting the secondary “black market” for prized tickets
  • Facilitating faster patron entry into sports venues.

The recently concluded FIFA World Cup in Germany was the largest use
of RFID in sports ticketing to date, with:

  • Twelve venues
  • Sixty-four games
  • 3.5 million tickets (Blau, 2006a).

FIFA had previously employed RFID-equipped tickets in its “dry
run” for the 2006 event in staging its Confederations Cup in Germany
in 2005 (Blau, 2006b).

The World Cup ticketing was based on Philips Electronics MIFARE technology,
enabling ticket-holders to gain entrance to the venues by sliding their
tickets into fixed scanners, positioned at the entry gates to the stadiums.
As can be seen in Figure 1, the tickets are personalized with the name
of the ticket buyer. While FIFA collects identification information on
all ticket buyers, the RFID tag does not contain info on the ticket holder,
only access information for the FIFA ticketing system (Stensgaard, 2006).

Figure 1 – World Cup Tickets

Figure 1

 

Besides security concerns, one of the principal reasons FIFA chose to
employ RFID-based security in its ticketing for the World Cup was out
the organizer’s desire to significantly cut down on the secondary
or “black market” for these highly coveted tickets, which
FIFA prohibits from sale or transfer outside of family members except
in cases of undue hardship (Blau, 2006b). According to Carrie Johnson,
an e-commerce analyst for Forrester Research, the size of the global secondary-ticket
market is difficult to precisely pin down, with projections ranging anywhere
from $2 to $25 billion annually (cited in Sandoval, 2006). While World
Cup tickets for this year’s event averaged approximately a $180
face value, one estimate from the United Kingdom projected that FIFA leaves
as much as $3.6 billion (US) on the table by not charging market rates
for tickets (Blau, 2006a). FIFA’s prohibition on illegal ticket
sales, whether by what are known as “ticket brokers,” “scalpers,”
or “touts” by region, has not stopped those engaged in the
banned practice from trying to sell tickets. In fact, bids rose to $3000
or more per seat on eBay for World Cup tickets, even though the buyer
had no assurance they could actually enter the venue with a ticket, the
name on which could not possibly match the ticket holder (Kelly, 2006).
Buyers were betting on the fact that gate personnel would not bother checking
the ticket holder’s ID to match the name on the ticket to the person
presenting it at the turnstile – a bet lost by some fans, according
to media reports from the game sites. One sports industry analyst stated
that better control over the pricing of tickets brings FIFA additional
worldwide revenues in areas such as licensing, sponsorship, and broadcast
rights through marketing the World Cup as a “people’s game,”
rather than as entertainment for the wealthy and powerful (Higgitt, 2006).
Still, it is not a fool-proof system, as even one member of the FIFA Executive
Committee, Ismail Bhamjee of Botswana, was asked to leave Germany during
the World Cup when it was discovered that he had sold match tickets for
the England versus Trinidad and Tobago game for more than three times
their face value (Anonymous, 2006a).

Certainly, preventing counterfeit tickets from being presented at the
turnstile is a concern of any promoter of a sporting event – from
one as large as the World Cup, as pricey as the Super Bowl, or for hosts
of professional sports events and even prestigious amateur competitions,
such as college football games and skating championships. For instance,
at this year’s Super Bowl XL in Detroit, local police arrested twelve
people on felony charges for selling counterfeit Super Bowl tickets, and
seventy-three bogus tickets were confiscated from people who tried to
enter Detroit’s Ford Field on the day of the game (Anonymous, 2006b).

How can RFID help to curb counterfeiting? In November 2005, Texas Instrument’s
Tag-It RFID inlays were embedded into all 100,000 tickets for the Tennis
Master’s Cup 2005, held in Shanghai, China. The event organizers
used sixteen stationary readers at the entrance gates to Shanghai’s
Qi Zhong stadium, which is slated to host the event for three consecutive
years through 2007. As Yang Yibin, Deputy General Manager of New Sports
and Entertainment (Shanghai) Ltd., a subsidiary of the Ba-Shi Group, explained:
“Prior to using RFID, spectators were required to purchase a pre-event
ticket holder and then exchange it for the physical ticket at the stadium
box office. This new system not only offers peace of mind that the tickets
purchased are genuine, it puts tickets in the purchaser’s hands faster
and provides more efficient entry come event time” (quoted in O’Connor,
2005b, n.p.). In addition to the gate verification of the ticket, New
Sports and Entertainment outfitted event staff members with handheld RFID
readers to spot check tickets inside the stadium for an added level of
security (O’Connor, 2005b).

Many of the best practices and lessons learned emerging from the FIFA
World Cup and other high profile events will be employed at the next global
sports event on the horizon at which organizers plan to use RFID-based
ticketing – the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics (Campbell, 2005).

RFID-enabled Smart Cards – The “Golden Ticket”?

The hybrid solution of RFID-enabled, paper-form tickets may be a short-term
solution to the problems of crowd control, security, and resale prevention.
Indeed, the longer-term solution may be a move away from hard copy tickets
entirely to an electronic “Golden Ticket,” – a smart
card solution that offers benefits in both ticketing and payments.

That is the vision of a number of competing firms today. Stadiacard,
a division of the UK-based TelCo Management Limited, is working with several
leading football clubs in the UK in proving the viability of such a contactless
card solution. Most notably, there is the example of the Liverpool Football
Club, which has been at the forefront of using contactless technology
in its stadium since 2003. For the upcoming 2006/2007 season, the Liverpool
Club, winners of the 2006 FA Cup, will be shifting its season ticket buyers
entirely to Stadiacard’s contactless solution, providing them with
what they are branding as the Fan Card. Liverpool has now equipped its
historic Anfield Stadium, which dates back to 1884, with readers at all
of its entry gates. The Liverpool Club believes that the system will not
only speed entry of season ticket holders into the stadium, but also eliminate
the possibility that these buyers could resell individual game tickets
from their season-long package or provide them to “ticket touters.”
This is because the Fan Card will be required for entry throughout the
season. If sold, the season ticket purchaser would lose the right to enter
the stadium for not just a single match or series of games, but the remainder
of the season. While Anfield only has a capacity of 45,400 seats, the
Liverpool club has issued over 130,000 Fan Cards to date. Supporters who
are not season ticket holders can use their Fan Cards as ID when purchasing
individual game tickets via the phone or the Internet (Stadiacard, 2006).

A similar solution, also aimed for the football market, is being marketed
by the St. Andrews, Scotland-based Scotcomms Technology Group. Scotcomms
TeamCard contactless solution is being employed by several leading football
clubs in the UK, including:

  • Bolton Wanderers
  • The Celtic (Glasgow)
  • Chelsea
  • Crystal Palace
  • Everton
  • Ipswich Town
  • Millwall (Scotcomms Technology Group, 2006).

One of the significant benefits of such contactless ticketing is the
ability of the sports’ team/club to derive incremental revenue from
what would have been unused tickets by season ticket holders. One of the
British football clubs making use of the TeamCard, the Bolton Wanderers,
has turned a season ticket holder’s inability to attend a game into
a “win-win” for all parties. Gareth Moores, a director of
the club, estimates that 5-8% of season ticket holders can not attend
a given game. The Bolton Club rewards season ticket holders who notify
the organization in advance of their inability to attend a game with £10
worth of points loaded onto their TeamCard. These points can then be used
for purchasing either refreshments in the club’s stadium or team
merchandise from the club. The club is then able to resell that unused
seat – for an average profit of £15. Likewise, football clubs
have begun to offer seating upgrades to better sections on an availability
bases to card holders, with the ability to charge their registered payment
option immediately should they choose to sit in a better seat for an event
(Thomas, 2004).

There is also a significant security benefit to the use of contactless
tickets for sporting events in general and for football specifically.
Unlike with paper-form tickets, if a fan’s ticket card is lost or
stolen, the team can simply issue a replacement and cancel out the original
lost item. Also, the team retains significant control over the use of
the card, which is especially important in venues such as football in
England, where crowd rowdiness and hooliganism has been of paramount concern
in recent years. If a team can identify trouble making fans, they can
simply deactivate that person’s contactless ticket card and ban
them from the grounds. In the same fashion, as has been done in Liverpool
since the 2003/2004 season, stadium security and support personnel have
themselves been issued contactless cards, allowing for the club to maintain
required staffing levels throughout the stadium and monitor staff movement
for both management and payroll purposes. Finally, since the fan’s
card also operates as a form of payment in the stadium, the benefits of
contactless payments at concessions and merchandise sales locations can
be reaped. And, in the United Kindgom, unlike at sports venues in the
United States, where sports betting is not legal in the stadium setting,
fans can place wagers before and even during games using the same contactless
ticket card (Scotcomms Technology Group, 2006; Stadiacard, 2006; and Thomas,
2004).

Michael Richardson, Chief Technology Officer of New York-based Smart
System Technologies (SST), points to the fact that professional sports
teams “have to look for new ways to raise incremental revenues beyond
selling seats” (quoted in Collins, 2004, n.p.). Contactless payment
technologies, integrating RFID into either credit cards or key fobs, may
indeed be the key to unlocking more revenue potential from fans inside
the stadium. Early trials of such systems have been promising. In one
pilot, fans using the PowerPass system of New York-based Smart System
Technologies (SST) consistently bought double the amount of brewskis,
hot dogs, foam fingers, and other concession items, while speeding the
transactions (between two and six times faster than cash or credit card)
and taking cash-handling out of the equation (Collins, 2004).

This season, Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers have worked
in partnership with Chase to provide their fans with the convenience of
contactless payment technology. During the 2005 season, only one concession
stand at Ameriquest Field in Arlington, Texas was even equipped to accept
credit-card payments. For this season, the Rangers have installed more
than two-hundred contactless credit-card terminals throughout the ballpark,
at a cost of approximately $150 each. According to Scott Rau, a Senior
Vice President for Chase, contactless cards can take thirty seconds off
the time required for each cash transaction. Thus, fans can speed through
the process of buying concessions and souvenirs in the stadium, enhancing
the spectator experience by reducing their time waiting in lines and not
enjoying the event. Rangers Vice President Brad Alberts is excited about
the new technology, believing “it’s easier for the fans, it’s quicker
for the fans, and people will probably spend more money” (quoted
in Koenig, 2006, n.p.). The system is expected to grow in use as Chase
distributes more of its branded credit cards with contactless payment
capabilities. As of June, the company has distributed over seven-million
of their “blink” cards in major metropolitan areas in the
U.S., including the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, home of the Texas Rangers
(Koenig, 2006).

At present, MasterCard is undoubtedly the leader in the field. MasterCard’s
PayPass technology has been implemented to date in a total of nine Major
League Baseball ballparks and seven National Football League stadiums
(Anonymous, 2006c). These current installations are detailed in Table
2 below.

Table 2 – Stadiums in the United Stateswith PayPass Installations


Major League Baseball National Football League
  • Atlanta Braves (Turner Field)
  • Boston Red Sox (Fenway Park)
  • Cincinnati Reds (Great American Ballpark)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers (Dodger Stadium)
  • New York Mets (Shea Stadium)
  • New York Yankees (Yankee Stadium)
  • Philadelphia Phillies (Citizens Bank Park)
  • San Diego Padres (PETCO Park)
  • St. Louis Cardinals (Busch Stadium)
  • Baltimore Ravens (M&T Bank Stadium)
  • Detroit Lions (Ford Field)
  • Kansas City Chiefs (Arrowhead Stadium)
  • New York Giants/New York Jets (Giants Stadium)
  • Philadelphia Eagles (Lincoln Financial Field)
  • Seattle Seahawks (QWEST Field)
  • Washington Redskins (FedEx Field)

Source Info: MasterCard International – June 2006


From the perspective of Lawrence Flanagan, Worldwide Chief Marketing
Officer for MasterCard International, “stadiums represent the ideal
venues to showcase the promise of PayPass,” which the firm is fast-expanding
in its credit card operations (quoted in Anonymous, 2006c, n.p.).

What’s the next level for contactless payments? Well, it can be
found in Atlanta’s Philips Arena. In a test that began earlier this
year, 250 season ticket holders of the Atlanta Thrashers NHL hockey team
and the Atlanta Hawks NBA basketball team are receiving a specially NFC
(near field communication)-enabled Nokia cell phone which they can then
use in the arena for concession payments. Moreover, the cell phones can
detect the passive RFID tags embedded in “smart posters” positioned
around Philips Arena. With the phone held within a few inches of the poster,
they can download news, graphics (such as pictures of players or wallpaper
images) and promotional video clips which are presently inaccessible by
the general public (O’Connor, 2005c). According to a recently released
study from Philips Electronics and Visa International on the utility of
Near Field Communication (NFC) and contactless payment technology, consumers
like the convenience, ease of use, and “coolness” of making
transactions with their mobile phones (Philips Semiconductors, 2006).

Analysis

Will RFID be “the next big thing?” At this point in the technology’s
life cycle, it is too early for anyone to tell, but the stars certainly
seem to be in alignment for the next decade to be a tremendously exciting
one. Many share the sentiment of Kuchinskas (2005) that: “RFID will
change business and society as much as cell phones and the Internet have”
(n.p.). Futurist Paul Saffo believes that we are in the early stages of
“a weird new kind of media revolution,” in that “RFID
will make possible new companies that do things we don’t even dream about”
(quoted in Van, 2005, B1). Saffo views RFID as a media technology, making
it possible for what he categorizes as “’smartifacts’
or intelligent artifacts, that are observing the world on our behalf and
increasingly manipulating it on our behalf.” Saffo thus stresses
the importance of thinking outside the box on RFID and looking beyond
today’s problems to find “unexpected applications,”
which is where “the greatest potential for RFID lies” (quoted
in O’Connor, 2005a, n.p.).

Today, we are seeing the first fruits of this “weird” new
media revolution that RFID is sparking, including those found in the sports
field. What we are seeing with the advent of RFID in the sports marketplace
is the introduction of a technology that has the power to transform the
experience of playing and watching games. Sports 2.0 promises to be an
exciting – and richer – experience, and it will be interesting
to observe the innovations that will surely come over the next few years
as RFID-based applications become more commonplace in sporting venues.

What does all this portend for the “Average Joe Six-Pack”
sports fan? As a player, as a coach, as a spectator, and as a gambler,
RFID is on tap to transform the sports world over the next decade. We
will see RFID-based systems replace some of the fundamental rule elements
of sports, to the betterment of the game. After all, it is hard to believe
that in 2006, the way we measure first downs in football is with a chain!
We may also see the automation of some routine scoring and statistics
compiled in major sporting events, such as line crossings in a wide variety
of sports and distance calculations in golf. RFID will also bring heretofore
unimaginable levels of information and intelligence to our games. Already,
there is speculation that RFID may enable new forms of wagering on sporting
events with the new metrics that can be uncovered by RFID-chipping of
balls and players, making new opportunities for casinos and sports books.
In baseball for instance, RFID could enable gamblers to bet on things
– in real-time – like the precise distance of a home run and
the positioning of individual pitches. Finally, there is speculation that
some players and teams may not want to release such new statistics, such
as how far they ran during a soccer or football game, for fear of revealing
efforts that they may not be especially proud of. This is hardly information
overload; it’s revolutionary on many, many levels.

References

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  2. Anonymous (2006b). “Arrests made for selling phony Super Bowl tickets.” NFL.com, February 8, 2006. Retrieved June 16, 2006, from http://www.superbowl.com/news/story/9217319.
  3. Anonymous (2006c). “MasterCard PayPass to be deployed at Major League Baseball stadiums.” RFID News, April 5, 2006. Retrieved July 5, 2006, from http://www.rfidnews.org/news/2006/04/05/mastercard-paypass-to-be-deployed-at-major-league-baseball-stadiums/.
  4. Anonymous (2005). “Goodyear’s RFID technology has high-profile success.” Auto Racing Daily, November 23, 2006. Retrieved February 15, 2006, from http://www.autoracingdaily.com/article.php?cid=4058.
  5. Anonymous (1997). “Read/Write tags track homing pigeons.” Automatic I.D. News Europe, March 1997: 4.
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  8. Blau, John (2006b). “FIFA criticizes World Cup data gathering: Organizers have required fans to provide data such as name, date of birth and passport number, but they are mum on what data will appear on RFID tags.” InfoWorld, April 12, 2006. Retrieved June 1, 2006, from http://www.infoworld.com/article/06/04/12/77384_HNworldcuprfid_1.html.
  9. Campbell, Anita (2005). “RFID tags in sports tickets: Update.” RFID Weblog, June 14, 2005. Retrieved June 18, 2006, from http://www.rfid-weblog.com/50226711/rfid_tags_in_sports_ticketsupdate.php.
  10. ChampionChip (2006). “ChampionChip technology.” Retrieved March 20, 2006, from http://www.championchip.com/home/index.php.
  11. Collins, Jonathan (2005). “Smart soccer ball misses its goal: Soccer’s international governing body has canceled plans to use an RFID-enabled scoring system at the 2006 FIFA World Cup international soccer tournament.” RFID Journal, December 5, 2005. Retrieved January 30, 2006, from http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articleview/2029/1/1/.
  12. Collins, Jonathan (2004). “RFID enters the sports arena: Two NFL stadiums are leading the way in one company’s efforts to use RFID to speed payments, increase customer insight and boost consumer spending.” RFID Journal, July 30, 2004. Retrieved May 24, 2006, from http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articleview/1068/1/1/.
  13. Ewalt, David M. (2004). “RFID in it for the long run: Gear from Hewlett-Packard turns Boston Marathon into a high-tech showcase.” InformationWeek,
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  16. Karle, Patrick (2004). “Indy 500 keeps score with RFID: Race officials use an active-tag system to drive real-time reports on racers’ performance.”
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  21. LaPedus, Mark (2005). “Radar Golf claims breakthrough with RFID golf balls.” Silicon Strategies, (January 25, 2005). Retrieved from the web on February 12, 2005. Available at http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=57703713.
  22. MasterCard International (2006). “MasterCard PayPass – Frequently Asked Questions.” Retrieved June 30, 2006, from http://www.mastercard.com/us/personal/en/aboutourcards/paypass/faqs.html#1.
  23. Morphy, Erika (2005). “RFID is here: What is your customer plan?” CIO Today, (June 17, 2005). Retrieved June 21, 2005, from http://www.cio-today.com/news/RFID-Is-Here–What-Is-Your-Plan-/story.xhtml?story_id=1010000274YP.
  24. O’Connor, Mary Catherine (2005a). “RFID and the media revolution: Renowned futurist Paul Saffo predicts that RFID’s biggest impact will come from surprising applications.” RFID Journal, (April 13, 2005). Retrieved April 20, 2005, from http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articleview/1508/1/1/.
  25. O’Connor, Mary Catherine (2005b). “RFID takes a swing at ticket fraud: By embedding RFID tags into tickets for the Tennis Masters Cup 2005, organizers were able to curtail counterfeiting, increase revenues and speed patrons’ entry into the stadium.” RFID Journal, (April 13, 2005). Retrieved May 14, 2006, from http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articleview/2060/1/1/.
  26. O’Connor, Mary Catherine (2005c). “Sports fans use RFID to pay and play: A group of season ticket holders at Atlanta’s Philips Arena can use RFID-enabled cell phones to download video clips and pictures of players—and, eventually, to make purchases.” RFID Journal, (December 16, 2005). Retrieved June 30, 2006, from http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articleview/2051/1/1/.
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  29. Scotcomms Technology Group (2006). TeamCard. Retrieved June 28, 2006, from http://www.scotcomms.co.uk/pdfs/teamcard_all.pdf.
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  35. Swedberg, Claire (2005). “RFID tracks tires at NASCAR: Goodyear used handheld interrogators and embedded tags to keep track of leased racecar tires.” RFID Journal, November 25, 2005. Retrieved February 15, 2006, from http://www.rfidjournal.com/article/articleview/2006/1/1/.
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  37. Thomas, Daniel (2004). “Sports clubs kick off with smart ticketing.” VnunetNews, February 6, 2004. Retrieved May 13, 2006, from http://www.vnunet.com/vnunet/news/2124268/sports-clubs-kick-smart-ticketing.
  38. Van, Jon (2005). “RFID spells media revolution, futurist says.” Chicago Tribune, 124(104) (April 16, 2005): B1.
  39. Wyld, David (2006). “RFID 101: The next big thing for management.” Management Research News, 29(4): 154-173. For a detailed and highly readable look at RFID technology, please consult the following report: Wyld, David C. (2005) RFID: The right frequency for government, A research monograph published by The IBM Center for the Business of Government, Washington, DC, October 2005. Retrieved October 23, 2005, from http://www.businessofgovernment.org/main/publications/grant_reports/details/index.asp?gid=232.

Letter to the Editor – The Sport Journal Pierre de Coubertin, arts administrator

Ed:

During the preparation of this issue of the Sport Journal, we received a piece sent to us by Mr. Raymond Grant, the artistic director of the 2002 Olympic Art Festival, reflecting on the historic and modern cultural aspects of the Olympic Games. Although the article does not fall within the normal editorial plan of the Sports Journal, it is very insightful and we felt, as such, it would be of interest to the readership

With the permission of the author, we are reprinting the piece titled “Contrast, Culture, and Courage: A Cultural Administrator’s Tribute to Pierre de Coubertin” in the form of a letter to the editor. We trust the readership will find as much value in reading the piece as we did.

As Beijing, Vancouver, and London prepare to host future
Olympic Games, it seems fitting to remind readers of The Sport Journal
of the value of cultural programs within the Olympic Movement and the
connection between artists and athletes. That value, and the corresponding
cultural development surrounding the successful hosting of the Olympic
Games, has deep roots within the Olympic Movement thanks to the vision
of Baron Pierre de Coubertin. de Coubertin was both a sports and arts
administrator.

The recently completed Turin Olympic Winter Games and Athens Olympic
Games warrant reflection brought about by the cultural legacy of Pierre
de Coubertin. The very public challenges surrounding the hosting of the
Olympic Games, the reforms of the IOC, and the successful return of the
Summer Games to Athens suggests that this contemporary period in the Olympic
Movement has elements of the historic.

The on-going research of Norbert Muller, Manfred Messing, and Research
Team Olympia of the University of Mainz (Germany) in their new publication
From Chamonix to Turin, holds significant value in the study
of cultural programs within the context of the Olympic Games. In their
research on the meaning of the cultural program for spectators in Salt
Lake in 2002, the authors found that 84% of respondents agreed with the
statement that “The Olympic idea combines sport and art.”
This significantly high response compares with 72% for the Olympic Games
in Sydney 2000, 23% for Atlanta 1996, and 40% for Barcelona 1992. Can
this be a trend in the growth of awareness and significance of Cultural
Olympiads and Olympic Arts Festivals? If so, as the communities of Beijing,
Vancouver, and London prepare to host upcoming Olympic Games, much can
be celebrated and learned by engaging artists and encouraging their role
in community development and the creative economy.

The magic of the Olympic Movement – its power, if you will, is
in how individual communities who are invited to host the Games reinvigorate
the Movement. And, local participation is a defining element of this reinvigoration.
In her article More Than a Game. The Value of Arts Programming to
Increase Local Participation
, author and Olympic researcher Beatriz
Garcia points to “ways in which some of the less known – but
more meaningful – dimensions of the Games could place participation
back at the centre of the [Olympic] celebration.”

The arts were always at the center of Pierre de Coubertin’s vision
for the Olympic Movement. In the years of preparation required to deliver
a credible Olympic Cultural program, I have found that de Coubertin’s
unflagging belief in the power of music, dance, and words was sustaining.

In Dr. Norbert Muller’s opus Olympism, we have the wonderful benefit
of the selected writings of Pierre de Coubertin. To any cultural administrator
of the Games, the historical event of the Olympic Movement in Paris in
May of 1906 is singularly defining. The festivities in the great amphitheater
of the Sorbonne, which ended the 1906 Advisory Conference in Paris (the
Conference itself was held in the historic foyer of the Comedie Francaise)
on the inclusion of the arts and humanities in the modern Olympics, is,
for all intents and purposes, the birth right for those of us who use
the arts to help define the atmosphere of the Modern Games.

In a circular letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) dated
April 2, 1906, de Coubertin invites members to an Advisory Conference
to determine “to what extent and in what form the arts and literature
can participate in the celebration of the modern Olympiads.” Thanks
to the vision of de Coubertin, his question is as applicable today for
the organizing committees of Beijing, Vancouver, and London, as it was
for the nascent Olympic Movement of 1906.

The announcement of the 1906 Advisory Conference was attached to the
invitation to IOC members to attend the Games in Athens. As completely
as de Coubertin believed in the merger of sport and art, the summoning
of this “Consultative Conference on Art, Letters, and Sport”
was not completely altruistic. In his Olympic Memoirs, de Coubertin said
“I would be able to use this (the conference) as an excuse for not
going to Athens, a journey I particularly wished to avoid.”

Excuses aside, de Coubertin, I believe, understood that artists provide
communities with a sense of place and the Olympic Movement of 1906 was
missing a vital link to this sense of place. A distinct challenge remains
today as arts and culture programs within the context of host organizing
committees fight for survival, respect, resources, and presence. de Coubertin’s
vision of Olympism – what the Olympic Movement aspires to be –
is inextricably linked to the arts and humanities “harmoniously
joined with sports.”

Celebrating the achievements of athletes alongside the accomplishments
of artists became the vision of the 2002 Olympic Arts Festival.

In an article I wrote for The Olympic Review entitled Contrast, Culture,
and Courage
, I reflected on the cultural legacy of de Coubertin citing
the seminal meetings he convened. In that article, I said ‘I will
leave it to greater minds to decide if the 2002 Olympic Arts Festival,
in any substantive way, realized this broad de Coubertin vision’.

Now, I am especially encouraged by the results of the studies conducted
by Research Team Olympia in 2002 and just released in which the researchers
(Muller, Messing, and Preub) say, “It can be concluded that the
Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Arts Festival was a relatively successful one.
Although not all of the projects could be realized, the understanding
of the inner connection of Olympic sport and art was higher than at three
former (Summer) Olympic Games and the biathlon spectators were more involved
in visits of the Cultural Program. It seems that the Arts Festival in
Salt Lake 2002 has set a benchmark for Winter Games which needs further
study to measure the achievements of cultural programs in the future.”
Hopefully, the sports and arts administrators of the Games of Beijing,
Vancouver, and London, can engage in, commission, and contribute to this
Olympic research area.

Participation is the key to promoting the role culture plays in great
social gatherings. And, the Olympic Movement stands as the great social
gathering of our time.

I posit that the Olympic Movement is furthered, as well, by the perspective
and point of view of artists, for it has been said that “only artists
find the uncommon in the commonplace.” I, for one, look forward
to the role that gifted artists, poets, playwrights, and essayists will
play in future Games. If history is any judge, they will leave a cultural
legacy for the Games and the communities which host them.

Twenty-five years after the 1906 Advisory Conference, de Coubertin reflected:

I have already repeated – so often that I am a trifle ashamed
of doing so once again, but so many people still do not seem to have
understood – that the Olympic Games are not just ordinary world
championships but a four-year festival of universal youth, “the
spring of mankind”, a festival of supreme efforts, multiple ambitions
and all forms of youthful activity celebrated by each succeeding generation
as it arrives on the threshold of life. It was no mere matter of chance
that in ancient times, writers and artists gathered together at Olympia
to celebrate the Games, thus creating the inestimable prestige the Games
have enjoyed for so long.

Today, the Olympic Games have as compelling an obligation and opportunity
to gather writers and artists together as they did in 1906.

If “this was how the reunion of the muscles and the mind, once
divorced, was celebrated in the year of grace 1906,” let us look
toward years of grace in 2008 in Beijing; 2010 in Vancouver; and 2012
in London.

The Prevalence and Focus of Workplace Fitness Programs in Denmark: Results of a National Survey

Abstract

Purpose: This study describes the prevalence of physical activity
programs at Danish workplaces with one-hundred or more employees

Design: Cross-sectional

Setting: Denmark

Subjects: All private and public workplaces of the designated
size (n=2422).

Measures: A two-phase research model was used. Phase 1 consisted
of telephone interviews involving all workplaces. Phase 2 was conducted
using a structured, self-administered questionnaire which elicited more
detailed descriptions of workplaces identified as promoting physical activity
(n=449). Response rates were 92% and 69% in Phases 1 and 2 respectively.

Data Analysis: Data were analyzed using StatView statistical
software.

Results: 18.6% of all workplaces (n=2422) offer employees opportunities
for physical activity on a regular basis. Analysis of the data from workplaces
included in Phase 2 (n=449) showed the following: The most frequently
cited motive for providing opportunities for physical activity is to promote
social contact between employees.
63% of the workplaces have instructors for the activities on offer, while
39% mention that some form of assessment is linked to the offer of physical
activity. 50% of the programs have been implemented within the last ten
years.

Conclusions: The results indicate that the concept of physical
activity as part of everyday working life has acquired real momentum in
Denmark in recent decades, but nevertheless is still at an early stage.

Physical activity at the workplace—a historical outline

Physical activity at the workplace is not a recent phenomenon in Denmark.
Traditional company sports began more than half a century ago and were
organized in a national association. The primary aim of this association
over the years has been to organize competitions and tournaments among
various firms and companies. However, only recently has physical activity
received much attention as a catalyst for health and well being among
employees, or as a building block in corporate culture.

Thus, marked promotion of physical activity at the workplace first emerged
in 1987 when the Danish government presented the Government Preventive
Program, influenced by WHO’s strategy Health for All—Year
2000 (Ministry of Health, 1989). In the subsequent action plans, it is
the relationship between physical activity and the prevention of specific
illnesses that has been the constant theme—although the 1990s saw
a change of emphasis, with concepts like well being and social determinants
of health coming to the fore. This latter trend is reflected partly in
a variety of educational initiatives dealing with the promotion of physical
activity and fitness, and partly in official governmental guidelines for
the implementation of physical activity at workplaces from 1997 onwards
(National Board of Health, 1997). The overall development has been borne
out through the publication and promotion of the ambitious 2002 government
strategy entitled Healthy throughout life – a follow-up on The Danish
Government Programme on Public Health and Health Promotion 1999-2008 published
in 1999 (Ministry of Health, 1999. Government of Denmark, 2002).

In continuation of these political and health policy trends, this article
presents one of few comprehensive overviews of physical activity programs
at Danish workplaces. The results obtained and experiences gained from
this survey should be used to promote the continued implementation of
workplace fitness programs in particular and of workplace health promotion
in general. Furthermore, this article seeks to make a contribution to
the collection of fundamental knowledge and facts which is needed in order
to make possible international comparative research into minor or major
aspects of health promotion.

Methods

Design

The results presented in this paper are from an exploratory survey which
was conducted with the aim of systematically collecting background data
on a subject of which relatively little is currently known, namely health
promotion and physical activity at the workplace in Denmark. It was decided
to collate a limited amount of information from a large number of survey
returns concerning key variables related to both structural and human
resources.

The aims of the national survey were thus:

  • To determine the number of Danish workplaces offering physical activity
    to employees on a regular basis
  • To identify trends underlying the programs offered
  • To determine who is responsible for these programs
  • To describe how and where programs are made available
  • To document who meets the costs of establishing and running programs.

Sample

The sample included all private and public workplaces in Denmark with
one-hundred or more employees. Statistics Denmark provided information
as regards the name, addresses, and telephone numbers of each workplace,
the type of workplace, and the number of employees. The data were arranged
geographically, listed by municipality. Statistics Denmark updates information
on roughly ½ million Danish workplaces every sixth month, and supplies
information requested within ten days. The basic data can be regarded
as extremely reliable, because of the close co-operation between Statistics
Denmark and the Danish taxation authorities.

The grounds for selecting one-hundred employees as the lower limit were:

  1. The lower limit was chosen in the light of the time and resources
    available for the study. 2,422 Danish workplaces were registered as
    having one-hundred or more employees. This was considered to be a practicable
    number of workplaces to investigate, given the above mentioned conditions.
  2. Experiences gained from a pilot project carried out some years ago,
    concerning the extent of opportunities for physical activity at workplaces
    in a selected region of Denmark, indicated one-hundred employees as
    a suitable threshold value. The pilot study investigated all workplaces
    with at least twenty employees. It was found that only one of the workplaces
    offering physical activity on a formal, planned and regular basis had
    less than one-hundred employees (Berggren & Skovgaard, 1995). This
    finding is somewhat different from results presented in other research
    studies where physical activity, defined in much the same way as mentioned
    above, is frequently cited as a current health promotion initiative
    at workplaces employing less than one-hundred people (Wilson et al.,
    1999).

Measures

Collection of data was divided into two phases:

Phase 1: Selection via telephone contact
The 2,422 workplaces were contacted over the telephone. The use of a protocol
assisted interview system made it possible to discriminate between a group
of workplaces that were to take part in the later survey and a group that
did not live up to a criterion concerning workplace promotion of physical
activity.

Workplace promotion of physical activity was defined for the respondents
as: activities which lay outside the auspices of the three national Danish
sports associations and offered employees at least thirty minutes of physical
activity once a week or more frequently.

Furthermore, it was a requirement that respondents could answer ‘yes’
to one or both of the following sub-criteria:

  1. The ongoing initiatives regarding physical activity takes place solely
    or partial at the workplace;
  2. Workplace management bears some of the running expenses in connection
    with the activities.

The protocol assisted interview system included a standardized interview
guide. This gave a detailed definition of the term workplace promotion
of physical activity. There was a set of instructions related to the interview
guide which stipulated a specific order in which questions were to be
asked. This meant that the sub-criteria were mentioned last. The interview
protocol required that if the initial contact person (typically someone
in the secretariat) was unable to provide the information requested, this
person should be asked to transfer the request to another contact person
(usually someone in the personnel or administrative department).

The telephone interviews were conducted by qualified personnel with experience
in working on questionnaire-based projects. Before the work started there
were two preparatory meetings in which the interview protocol was reviewed,
commented upon, and revised.

Of the initial 2,422 workplaces listed, it proved impossible to get in
touch with 163. A further twenty workplaces either could not or refused
to participate in the survey. There was thus no information available
for a total of 183 workplaces. Ninety-two percent of the companies in
the sample were reached in Phase I, and this was judged to be acceptable.

Phase 2: Detailed questionnaire survey
This part of the survey covered all workplaces that fulfilled the requirements
set out in the definition of workplace promotion of physical activity.

All workplaces that fulfilled these conditions agreed to take part in
the subsequent survey, based on a structured, self administered questionnaire,
which was to be answered in writing and returned in an enclosed addressed
reply envelope. The questionnaire had a total of thirty-two questions
with multiple choice response categories, frequently with the possibility
of adding further comments in marked sections.

The questionnaire form was sent to a named contact person at the workplace
who was selected as being a knowledgeable and appropriate informant in
this context.

Of the 449 workplaces that received the questionnaire (corresponding
to 18.6% of all Danish workplaces with at least one-hundred employees),
310 (69%) responded. An analysis of the non-respondents showed no systematic
and consistent pattern when respondent and non-respondent groups were
compared with respect to:

  • Number of employees
  • Whether the workplace was in the private or public sector
  • Type of workplace
  • Geographical location (postal code)

Analysis

This article is mostly based on the information collected by means of
the questionnaire survey. The internal missing response rate, i.e. the
proportion of a given questions to which no response was made on the survey
forms returned, never exceeded 3% and followed no systematic pattern.
The internal missing responses are therefore considered to have only minor
effect on the reliability of the survey results.
The data from the forms were entered into a database by a firm specializing
in this type of work.
The data entered were then checked for errors against the original questionnaire
forms.
Descriptive data analysis was carried out using the StatView statistical
software package.

Results

General data—the size of workplaces
18.6% of all Danish workplaces with at least one-hundred employees offer
regular physical activity as previously defined. A comparison with the
results from the pilot study cited above suggests that a large increase
in the number of Danish workplaces offering physical activity has taken
place over a short period of time. The national survey also shows that
roughly half of the workplaces have begun to offer opportunities for physical
activity within the last decade. It is also noteworthy that in only one
in five states were making such an offer before 1980.

As shown in table I (part A), nearly half (48%) of the Danish workplaces
offering regular physical activity have 100-199 employees, while about
a third of the workplaces (32%) lie within the 200 499 range. The somewhat
smaller figure for larger workplaces (those with five-hundred or more
employees) that offer opportunities for physical activity corresponds
quite closely to the overall number of such larger workplaces existing
in Denmark. Indeed, Table I suggests that as a rule, the proportion of
Danish workplaces, which fall within a given size group, tends to tally
with the share of workplaces offering physical activity within the same
size group.

From the outset, it was assumed that physical activity programs at the
workplace would be more prevalent among smaller and medium sized workplaces.
This expectation was based on the conjecture that it would perhaps be
easier to agree on perspectives and aims of physical activity at smaller
and medium-sized workplaces. The findings described above do not support
such an assumption.

Who initiates physical activity at the workplace, and why?
At almost half the workplaces investigated (44%) it was the employees
who had taken the initiative. If one includes joint initiatives between
employees and employer, the involvement of employees grows to 79%. The
initiative came from management alone in only 19% of workplaces.

Table I suggests that within the last decade a shift has taken place
in the primary reasons given for introducing physical activity at Danish
workplaces. Surveys conducted at selected workplaces in the early and
mid 1990s pointed to a clear emphasis on such aims as ‘to reduce
absence due to illness’ and ‘to increase efficiency’
(Andersen, Berggren, & Lüders, 1996). The national survey, on
the other hand, shows that the three most frequently cited aims are:

  • To promote social contact between employees
  • To accommodate employee requirements
  • To contribute to the overall work environment

Activities offered

The national survey shows that the three most frequently offered activities
at Danish workplaces are weight training, cardiovascular exercise using
fitness equipment (e.g. steppers, treadmills, ellipticals, and rowers),
and various kinds of aerobics.

Table II shows that while almost 80% of all workplaces state that weight
training is offered, this figure falls to 70% if the requirement is for
both weight training and cardiovascular exercise using fitness equipment
to be offered. The fall becomes even more dramatic if activities such
as aerobic dance and general gymnastics are included as well.

It is noteworthy that just over 10% of all workplaces have such wide
ranges of activities on offer that they include all the four types of
activity mentioned above.

Establishing and running activities

Financially, the provision of physical activity at the workplace involves
both employers and employees. Table II shows that meeting the costs incurred
in establishing the facilities for physical activity involves the employer
to a considerable extent. In 35% of cases this is done in cooperation
with the employees. In roughly one out of ten cases the economic burden
of establishing the activities is the sole concern of the employees.

The employer is also involved in the running costs, as just over 30%
of companies state that the employer covers the annual running costs,
while another 40% report that the users and the employer share these costs.

In 20% of cases it is the employees alone who cover the running costs,
while in a small proportion of workplaces (6%) the running costs are financed
in some other way, for example through grants from unions or foundations.

Access to facilities for physical activity

Workplaces were asked to what extent they offer physical activity within
and outside working hours. It is a motivating factor for the employees
that the workplace offers such facilities during working hours. Furthermore,
the use of working hours for physical activity implies that the workplace
takes the task of activating employees seriously.

Sixty-two percent of the workplaces investigated stated that physical
activity is only offered outside working hours. Thus, at most of the investigated
workplaces the willingness to invest in employees’ physical activity
by reducing the hours spent working is not present. It is, however, notable
that 32% of workplaces state that such activity is available both within
and outside working hours.

In almost 90% of workplaces the offer is predominantly taken up immediately
after work. To some extent, this might be because it can be awkward to
return to the workplace once one has started on domestic or other commitments.

Who provides instruction?

The survey shows that 63% of workplaces provide instructors in connection
with some of the activities on offer. It transpires, however, that in
only 32% of cases are all activities conducted under some form of guidance.
The activity that most typically lacks such guidance is the use of weight
training equipment.

Only two out of five instructors state that they have some form of relevant
formal training for the job. Furthermore, the survey reveals that the
majority of those who have had such training acquired their knowledge
through weekend or other short courses.

Family

Just over 40% of the workplaces state that members of employees’
families also have access to the activities. A slightly higher proportion
(43%) does not admit other members of the family or partners. The difference
in the size of these two groups is, however, so small that it cannot be
said that there is any clear tendency for workplaces to either give or
deny family members access to physical activity facilities.

Evaluation

Thirty-nine percent of the workplaces state that some form of evaluation
is linked to the offer of physical activity, but it is only very few (11%)
of these that can be said to conduct a systematic, regular assessment
of their activities. This is not, however, a distinctively Danish phenomenon,
but rather an indication of a general trend whereby the majority of health
promotion programs are not subject to evaluation. Useful evaluation demands
adequate resources: the availability of time, money, and regular staff
or consultants skilled in carrying out evaluation activities. Company
budgets rarely allow room for such ideal provisions (Chapman, 1999).

Discussion

Summary

This study constitutes one of the first Scandinavian attempts at a national
survey of workplace promotion of physical activity. In general, the data
presented in this article should be seen as an attempt to provide the
fundamental information and analysis that is needed for cross-national
comparisons on health promotion topics.

Just under 19% of all Danish workplaces with at least one-hundred employees
make regular provision for physical activity. The results suggest that
the size of the workplace appears to have no independent effect on the
extent to which opportunities for physical activity are provided. Interestingly
enough, four-fifths of the programs currently in operation began during
the last twenty years. It is also worth mentioning that in around 40%
of cases, employees and employers both contribute to establishment and
running costs for the programs. Furthermore, it should be noted that the
majority of workplace exercise programs only offer a limited range of
activity types, and make no provision for systematic evaluation of the
programs through user surveys, measurement of results, etc. This last
finding is to be viewed in light of the fact that the three most frequently
named goals of the provision of opportunities for physical activity are
related to the well-being of employees and general working conditions.

Limitations

This study has a number of limitations.

First, there has been no previous attempt to measure the extent and nature
of the provision of opportunities for physical activity at Danish workplaces.
In 1997, 2002, and 2005 the National Board of Health commissioned inventories
on health promotion activities and strategies at Danish workplaces (National
Board of Health, 2006). The reports coming out of this work also deal
with physical activity. However, the National Board of Health applies
a much broader definition of workplace promotion of physical activity
than the one used in the present study. The various dataset are therefore
non-comparable and dynamic studies of development over time are not possible.

Second, the data collecting process was designed with the analysis of
aggregated data in mind. It is therefore not possible to use the data
to evaluate exactly how the various physical activity programs operate
and why they have been set up as they are, or to determine whether there
are typical decision-making and amendment processes which lead to the
establishment, revision, and abandonment of physical exercise programs.

Third, although the survey instruments used standard items, estimates
of reliability and validity are not available. However, for Phase 1 of
the survey, the protocol assisted interview system was developed by a
working group comprising people who all had previous experience with questionnaire-based
projects. The questionnaire used in Phase 2 was constructed on the basis
of a form used in the mentioned pilot study concerning a respondent group
very similar to that in the national survey.

Implications

Official action programs promoted by Danish Government at central, regional,
and local levels, and networks such as the WHO project Healthy Cities,
have frequently stressed the need to offer physical activity as part of
general strategies related to workplace health promotion (Ratzan, Filerman,
& LeSar, 2000. Danish Healthy Cities Network, 2004). Recently, focus
on this area has increased due to new legislative initiatives that obligates
municipal authorities to be the driving force in prevention and health
promotion matters. The workplace has been pointed out as an obvious setting
through which to reach the adult population (National Centre for Workplace
Health Promotion, 2005).

Initiatives such as the ones mentioned have included only brief comments
related to the problem of adherence to and compliance with workplace exercise
programs, and to the role of instructors in this perspective. In contrast
to the situation in many other western countries, there are no Danish
guidelines or rules that regulate and promote the trainer/instructor dimension
of the field of fitness and physical activity at the workplace. Partly
for this reason, most Danish workplaces offering physical activity have
still not fully accepted the consequences of the relationship between
the earlier stated reasons for implementing workplace fitness programs
(cf. Table 1, part B) and the central role of the instructor when what
is expected is both improvement in the physical condition of individuals
and a general improvement to the overall work environment. The results
presented indicate that only a small proportion of workplaces ensure that
their instructors have or obtain relevant pedagogical experience and theoretical
knowledge.

This state of affairs can be linked to the survey finding that only about
10% of all workplaces have multi-range fitness programs that include more
than three types of activity (Table II). Greater variation and breadth
in developing and implementing workplace physical activity schemes could
very likely influence the number of participants and the pattern of employee
exercise adherence and compliance. In general, careful planning and making
exercise a more pleasurable part of the work environment appear to have
at least a short-term positive effect on exercise adherence (Blue et al.,
1995. Andreasen & Møller-Jørgensen, 2005). However,
for many longterm adherence to exercise programs is a greater challenge.
As Chen et al. (2005) point out “The biggest challenge of a work-site
fitness program is to sustain long-term interest and enthusiasm”.
This conclusion could be applied to both the individual and organizational
level (Atlantis et al., 2006). Workplaces wanting to support such long
term efforts must be prepared to invest many types of resources (eg. human,
financial, organizational) (Nurminen E, 2002). Another challenge is engaging
the more sedentary part of the workforce. In general participation rates
in workplace health promotion programs are not that impressive and those
who do take part tend to the employees whose general health and health
behavior profile is better than average (Healthy People 2010, online documents
A).

It is important to stress that though this survey shows that only approximately
20% of Danish workplaces with one-hundred or more employees offer exercise
programs, compared to, for example, the situation in the United States,
where the corresponding figure is about 50% (Healthy People 2010, online
documents B), this is not to be taken as a precise indication of the overall
physical activity level in the Danish adolescent and adult population
as a whole. Thirty-seven percent of men and 23% of women in Denmark over
the age of 15 are members of one or more sport associations and 72% of
the total adult population state that they engage in leisure time sport
activities on a regular basis (Fridberg, 2000, Larsen, 2003). Moreover,
while about 80% of the Danish adult population is moderately active at
least four hours a week this is the case for roughly 40% of the same group
in the United States (Kjøller & Rasmussen, 2002. US Department
of Health and Human Services, 1999).

At the same time, it must be noted that about half of the Danish adult
population is not physically active in a degree that complies with the
primary public recommendation of minimum thirty minutes of moderate-intensity
physical activity per day (National Board of Health, 2002: Jørgensen
and Rosenlund, 2005). This dismal figure corresponds quite well with the
WHO estimate that at least 60% of the global population fails to achieve
the recommendation of at least thirty minutes moderate intensity physical
activity daily (WHO, 2003, WHO, 2004).

Lastly, it must be pointed out that the vast majority of Danish workplaces
have hitherto not considered workplace exercise promotion as a task in
which they played any major role. Only with the stronger political signals
of the last ten to twenty years, concerning the workplace as an important
setting for health promotion and disease prevention, has it been possible
to see much movement and shift of perspective regarding the area of workplace
physical activity among the many decision-makers of importance in this
nexus.

Perspectives: Implications for practitioners and researchers within sports-
and health promotion science

The survey data and other information presented in this article indicates
that workplace fitness programs in Denmark have been gaining ground, especially
in the last ten to twenty years. Combined with other research suggesting
that the Danish labor market as a whole is putting more and more energy
into the general field of health promotion, there seems to be support
for the assumption that the amount of work available for health promotion
practitioners is on the increase and that workplaces are interested in
using health activities as a means of promoting their employees’
well being. If this assumption is correct, future effort should ensure
that:

  • the personnel engaged in physical activity and health promotion at
    workplaces should receive better training and education in exercise
    and health related issues. With a view to encourage development of educational
    programs and tailored personnel engaged in workplace health promotion,
    national guidelines should be considered in order to increase the standards
    for the education of health promotion and/or exercise professionals
    in workplace settings. Countries such as the US, Germany, and the UK
    offer suitable models for established standards for exercise professionals.
    A future objective could be to implement a common reference system in
    the EU to promote good practice as regards Workplace promotion of physical
    activity. An effective starting point is the general quality criteria
    for workplace health promotion developed by the European Network for
    Workplace Health Promotion (ENWHP).
  • the many separate initiatives concerning health promotion, including
    physical activity, must be linked to general efforts made by public
    authorities to improve workplace health and safety.

 


Basic information concerning workplace fitness
programs I
Total sample (n=2,422)*
Part A
Number of employees 100-199 200-499 500-999 1000+ Unknown
Variable
Percentage of all Danish workplaces (100+ employees) 52 33 11 3 1
Percentage of all Danish workplaces (100+ employees) with fitness
programs
48 32 12 5 3
Part B
Most frequently mentioned reasons for implementing physical
activity at the workplace
Variable %
To promote social contact among employees 28
To meet employee requirements 18
To contribute to the work environment 14

* While the total sample size was 2,422 workplaces, the
number responses to questions included in this table ranged from 2,349
in Part A and 2,400 in Part B.


Basic information concerning workplace fitness
programs II
Total sample (n=310)*
Range of activities on offer
Establishing
Programs
Running
Programs
Variable: Variable: Variable:
activities included in workplace fitness programs who covers the preliminary expenses? who covers the annual running
expenses?
n % n % n %
1i 239 78 employees 37 12 employees 62 20
1+2ii 214 70 employer 127 42 employer 102 34
1+2+3iii 86 28 employee/employer 105 35 employee/employer 121 40
1+2+3+4 iv 34 11 others 32 11 others 19 6

* While the total sample size was 310 workplaces, the number
responses to questions included in this table ranged from 301 to 306.

iWeight training
iiWeight- and cardiovascular exercise training
iiiWeight- and cardiovascular exercise training and aerobics
iv Weight- and cardiovascular exercise training, aerobics,
and general gymnastics


References

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