David Kirkpatrick

September 11, 2011

Ten years later …

I don’t really have a lot to offer aside from two blog posts.

First up is a post of mine from MarketingSherpa this Friday. I interviewed a reputation management expert for a how-to consumer marketing article who worked the American Airlines account for a major PR firm that day. He provided an interesting insight into some of the behind the scenes aspects of 9/11.

From the link:

I spent 48 hours doing nothing but monitoring and taking in reports from different people. I didn’t go to bed. I didn’t go home. It was kind of funny because the next day after the first 48 hours was over, I actually had scheduled a meeting with the Interactive Marketing team at AA.com.

I went to that meeting and I hadn’t gone to sleep. They insisted on having the meeting, not because they really wanted to have the meeting, but they knew that I was also in the Corporate Communications side, and that I knew what was going on.

The second is a post on the personal blog from a Sherpa colleague of mine, Brad Bortone, was a NYC resident on that morning. His post covers the first Mets home game after the attacks.

From the link:

For all the good that a night of baseball seemed to be doing, it was clear that the outside world wasn’t going away, no matter how much we wanted it to do just that. Then Mike Piazza stepped up once last time.

In the eighth inning, with the Mets down 2-1, and fan enthusiasm rapidly waning, Piazza hit a defining shot of his career. A fastball by Steve Karsay, left right in Piazza’s wheelhouse, promptly found its way over the center field fence, giving the Mets a 3-2 lead which would hold up till the end.

Piazza tried his damnedest to maintain composure as he rounded the bases, but the fans weren’t as controlled. Despite the thinning attendance, the cheers were as loud as any I’ve experienced in my 31 years. It was as if 41,000 people, after two weeks of holding their breath, finally allowed themselves to exhale.

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September 12, 2010

Sunday NFL football …

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:34 am

…. is back!

Thursday’s game was great (especially since the Saints won) and the Monday doubleheader will be even better, but there’s nothing like National Football League games on Sunday.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=nfl&iid=9693615″ src=”http://view2.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9693615/minnesota-vikings-new/minnesota-vikings-new.jpg?size=500&imageId=9693615″ width=”500″ height=”359″ /]

August 24, 2010

Tuesday video fun — Roger Federer’s ball control

Filed under: et.al., Sports — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:07 pm

Tennis ball control, that is.

Enjoy …

August 4, 2010

NFL television ratings, here comes the science

Research from the University of Illinois.

The release, er, story:

Winning record, team longevity, prime-time games influence NFL TV ratings

8/4/10 | Phil Ciciora, News Editor

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” For NFL teams, especially small-market franchises seeking to increase their fan base, winning does help, but so does team longevity in the market as well as the number of games played in prime time, according to research by a University of Illinois sports economist.

Scott Tainsky, a professor of recreation, sport and tourism at Illinois, says that many of the same factors that influence whether fans attend a game in-person also influence a team’s television ratings.

“Sports economists have traditionally relied on attendance figures as a proxy for demand in order to figure out what’s motivating fans to go to games,” Tainsky said. “Even though the NFL is priced just a little bit below where it could maximize revenue at the gate, it still requires a large income or at least a large outlay of money for the average fan to see a game in-person.”

According to Tainsky, whose research was published in the Journal of Sports Economics, since the vast majority of fans watch the games on TV instead of in-person, and with the NFL generating over half of its revenue through TV contracts, TV ratings might actually function as a better proxy for consumer demand in both the home and road teams’ markets.

“We have a long history of studying consumer demand for major league baseball, but there’s very little research done on the NFL, even though it’s the largest revenue, most popular sport in the U.S.,” he said.

Of the three factors that positively influence demand, fielding a winning team is the most difficult variable to account for on a year-to-year basis, especially for small-market teams.

“From the first day of training camp, winning is the goal for every team in the league,” Tainsky said. “But that’s going to be somewhat cyclical, since the league has a pretty hard salary cap. If the spending on player talent is virtually equivalent for all 32 teams, there’s going to be parity, meaning that some teams will have good years while other teams will have bad years.”

Since it’s easier for the big-market teams such as Dallas and Chicago to weather the year-to-year swings in their win-loss records, small-market teams need to be even more proactive in courting fans when they’re muddling through a losing campaign.

One way to do that, Tainsky says, is to promote the experience of going to the game.

“When you’re a small-market team and you’re having a down year, you have to promote other things besides the quality of the team,” Tainsky said. “You have to market the tradition of sports being passed down from generation to generation, this notion of, ‘I went to the game with my dad, and he went with his dad,’ or the ‘On any given Sunday…’ mythology that the NFL likes to cultivate. If you can get this to be a habit of consumption on Sundays, that’s ideal, because it’s easier to take it on the chin when they’re not doing so well.”

Small-market teams mired in a rebuilding year are also at risk of having their broadcasts blacked out as a result of poor attendance. But Tainsky discovered that ratings for telecasts in those markets – Atlanta, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Oakland, St. Louis and Tennessee – were on par with the remaining 26 franchises. He blames market size rather than market demand for the teams’ failure to sell out games.

“There are three different ways that Nielsen collects ratings, and one of them is the percentage of TVs in the area that are on, and those aren’t appreciably lower in cities that experience blackouts,” Tainsky said. “In fact, the per capita demand is often higher in small markets; they just have trouble filling 60- and 70,000- seat stadiums. A place like New York City has a low market share, but the sheer number of people it has in its surrounding metropolitan area allows it to sell out games.”

In that respect, it may not be the fault of the smaller market cities that they can’t get a larger percentage of a viewing audience, Tainsky says.

“The team might be doing everything it can do to attract fans, but because of the smaller population size, it has to be that much more popular to avert blackouts.”

Although there was a slight ratings bump for games played in prime time, Tainsky said that sharing a home market with another team, as the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders do in the Bay Area, represented a significant drag on consumer demand. The socioeconomic status of fans was also negatively associated with ratings. Tainsky noted that other research has shown that lower-income fans engage in homebound and sedentary activities, further indicating that TV ratings might be a better measure of consumer demand.

Using TV ratings to analyze demand also allows sports economists to look at the size of viewership in cities that don’t have a home game that weekend, or in cities that don’t have teams. There’s also the “diaspora effect,” where fans have been displaced either by the team moving to a different market (the Baltimore Colts moving to Indianapolis, for example) or the fans themselves moving from their home markets (for example, displaced Pittsburghers living in suburban Chicago).

“Population flow from city-to-city does seem to have an effect on ratings for games,” Tainsky said. “If more people from western Pennsylvania have moved to the Chicago suburbs, the game featuring the Steelers will be popular but only if the game is being played at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.”

Tainsky said displaced fans won’t watch in great numbers if the Steelers are playing on the road at, say, Jacksonville, which may indicate that viewers aren’t necessarily tuning in for the game itself, but rather for the feelings of nostalgia that watching a football game on a Sunday evokes.

“It makes them think back to where they’re from, and the good times they had watching those games in the past,” he said. “So there’s more to it than just the game itself.”

July 14, 2010

Exercise improves your mental health

Via KurzweilAI.net — regular exercise provides many, many benefits and it’s not surprising improved mental health is among them. Since you’re reading this in front of a computer, take a few minutes sometime today to at least go on a brisk walk. Personally I do a bit of physical exercise, but nothing like I did when I was much younger. Now I completely swear by a 30 minute to hour daily workout on the Wii Fit Plus. For some reason I enjoy the idea of having a virtual trainer guiding my workout. It has something of “the future has arrived” science-fictiony feel to it for me.

Exercise reduces anxiety and depression

Exercise can ameliorate anxiety and depression-like behaviors induced by an adverse early-life environment by altering the chemistry of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that regulates stress responses, researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) have found.

In the study, rats were divided into groups and either isolated from their mothers for controlled periods of time to induce stress or given normal maternal contact. Half were given access to a running wheel. In addition to being more anxious, animals that were subjected to stress early in life had higher levels of stress hormones and fewer steroid receptors in the part of the brain controlling behaviour.

“Both the anxious behaviour and the levels of hormones in these rats were reversed with access to the exercise wheel,” said UNSW Professor of Pharmacology Margaret Morris.

“We know that exercise can elevate mood, but here we are seeing chemical changes that may underpin this improvement. One of these is increases in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which helps nerve cells grow.

“Many neurological diseases appear to have their origins early in life. Stress hormones affect the way nerve cells grow in the brain. This discovery may be giving us a clue about a different way to tackle a range of conditions that affect mood and behaviour,” she said.

More info: University of New South Wales news

Here’s the PhysOrg take on this story.

July 11, 2010

Congrats Spain

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:06 pm

Yet another one-nil win for Spain, this time over the Netherlands for the 2010 World Cup. A very chippy final, but also full of exciting play. All the cards were fitting for a Cup where officiating was almost as big of story over the month as the actual play on the pitch.

July 9, 2010

World Cup 2010 prediction — here comes the science

Filed under: Science, Sports — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:43 pm

(drumroll …)

And sophisticated analysis of Netherlands’ and Spain’s tactics predict a Spanish win this Sunday at Soccer City Stadium.

From the link:

Mathematicians and football supporters Dr Javier López Peña and Dr Hugo Touchette from Queen Mary, University of London have collected ball passing data from all of the FIFA  games and analysed it to reveal the nations’ different styles of play.

Using the mathematical technique called Graph Theory, they have revealed the gaping holes in England’s tactics against Germany game and made predictions about the Netherlands-Spain final that could rival the psychic octopus.

For each national side, Drs López Peña and Touchette have drawn up a ‘network’ of passes between players throughout the tournament and analysed how these networks compare between teams. Dr Touchette explains: “Each player in the network is given a score called centrality which measures how vital they are to the network. The higher the centrality score, the bigger the impact if that player wasn’t there. This method is most commonly used to make  more robust, but it can also be used to plan football strategy.”

July 1, 2010

Soccer — here comes the science

Filed under: Science, Sports — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:55 pm

I’ve already done a blog post on scientific research behind this year’s World Cup ball, the Jabulani — now here’s news on a Physics Today article on the science behind soccer. (Hint: hit the link in the release for the article.)

The release:

Study explains science of soccer

College Park, MD (July 1, 2010) — With the attention of sports fans worldwide focused on South Africa and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, U.S. scientist John Eric Goff has made the aerodynamics of the soccer ball a focus of his research.

In an article appearing in the magazine Physics Today this month, Goff examines the science of soccer and explains how the world’s greatest players are able to make a soccer ball do things that would seem to defy the forces of nature.

Goff’s article looks at the ball’s changing design and how its surface roughness and asymmetric air forces contribute to its path once it leaves a player’s foot. His analysis leads to an understanding of how reduced air density in games played at higher altitudes — like those in South Africa — can contribute to some of the jaw-dropping ball trajectories already seen in some of this year’s matches.

“The ball is moving a little faster than what some of the players are used to,” says Goff, who is a professor of physics at Lynchburg College in Virginia and an expert in sports science.

For Goff, soccer is a sport that offers more than non-stop action — it is a living laboratory where physics equations are continuously expressed. On the fields of worldwide competition, the balls maneuver according to complicated formulae, he says, but these can be explained in terms the average viewer can easily understand. And the outcomes of miraculous plays can be explained simply in terms of the underlying physics.

Goff also is the author of the recently published book, “Gold Medal Physics: The Science of Sports,” which uncovers the mechanisms behind some of the greatest moments in sports history, including:

  • How did Cal beat Stanford in the last seconds with five lateral passes as the Stanford marching band was coming on to the field?
  • How did Doug Flutie complete his “Hail Mary” touchdown pass that enabled Boston College to beat Miami?
  • How did Lance Armstrong cycle to a world-beating seven Tour de France victories?
  • How did Olympic greats Bob Beamon (long jump), Greg Louganis (diving) and Katarina Witt (figure skating) achieve their record-setting Olympic gold?

###

The article “Power and spin in the beautiful game” appears in the July, 2010 issue of Physics Today and is available at http://www.physicstoday.org/beautiful_game.html

ABOUT PHYSICS TODAY

Published by the American Institute of Physics, Physics Today is the most influential and closely followed physics magazine in the world, informing readers about science and its place in the world with authoritative features, news coverage and analysis, and fresh perspectives on technological advances and ground-breaking research. Physics Today Online (www.physicstoday.org) serves as the magazine’s home on the Internet, with all of its content available to subscribers and continually building a valuable online archive.

ABOUT AIP

The American Institute of Physics is a federation of 10 physical science societies representing more than 135,000 scientists, engineers, and educators and is one of the world’s largest publishers of scientific information in the physical sciences. Offering partnership solutions for scientific societies and for similar organizations in science and engineering, AIP is a leader in the field of electronic publishing of scholarly journals. AIP publishes 12 journals (some of which are the most highly cited in their respective fields), two magazines, including its flagship publication Physics Today; and the AIP Conference Proceedings series. Its online publishing platform Scitation hosts nearly two million articles from more than 185 scholarly journals and other publications of 28 learned society publishers.

June 28, 2010

The World Cup — tradition v. technology

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:44 pm

I’m not sure there’s any decent answer here, but the traditions of soccer simply don’t jibe with the realities of modern technology. Pesky stuff like televisions 40 inches and up in most homes, broadcasts to those large TVs in high definition and enough cameras placed around the pitch to capture every moment. Moments like clear goals that are disallowed. Moments like getting to see a diver fall down in writhing agony with no person or object within 15 feet of them. This worked when most everyone, including the one official on the pitch, was following the ball. Modern broadcasts put cameras on all sorts of action away from the ball and major officiating mistakes make the sport look, well, a bit stupid.

And don’t even get me started on hypocrisy of defending the traditions of the sport when actively promoting the tournament as being broadcast in 3D. As a ruling body FIFA has to either put up with ridiculous diving and a plethora of bad calls, or embrace modern technology and what it can do to make the game better. Because those two options are mutually exclusive.

So to get back to my original conjecture, I’m not sure there is a decent answer to tradition versus technology in soccer, but I am pretty sure this is not a workable solution.

From the link:

FIFA will censor World Cup match action being shown on giant screens inside the stadium after replays of Argentina’s disputed first goal against Mexico fueled arguments on the pitch.

June 26, 2010

Ghana-2, USA-1

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:11 pm

The extra thirty minutes exemplified the best and worst of international soccer. The Ghanan goal was a thing of beauty, the subsequent outrageous stalling and diving — and even worse officiating — are the final taste many new potential American fans of the sport are going to take away from an otherwise very good World Cup for the American side. And even though I’d preferred to see USA go on, I think it’s a good thing an African country continues in the first Cup held on the continent.

(And I’m probably more pleased than I ought to be that both France and Italy are already getting home cooking.)

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=world+cup+ghana&iid=9227271″ src=”http://view2.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9227271/united-states-altidore/united-states-altidore.jpg?size=500&imageId=9227271″ width=”500″ height=”580″ /]

June 14, 2010

The World Cup on the web

Filed under: Media, Sports, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 8:20 am

Here’s a CIO.com guide to four online World Cup fixes.

From the link:

1. Live Streaming

ESPN3.com is streaming 54 World Cup matches for free. Head to their website and click “Watch Now” for the current match, where you can also view up-to-date stats.

Univision will also be streaming matches online for free (but this site is in Spanish). To watch, click “Ver partido en vivo” from the orange box in the top right corner.

June 13, 2010

World Cup fans of Spain …

Filed under: Science, Sports — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:27 pm

don’t start celebrating just yet.

From the link:

The World Cup offers fans of the globe’s most popular sport the chance to thrill and agonize over the ups and downs of their nations’ teams. For scientists, whether or not they are fans, it’s another chance to collect data and test hypotheses about how close the final match results reflected the relative skill and performance of the two teams — and if they used the best possible winning strategies.

When the dust clears after the  concludes next month, it’s likely that the champion will not be the team that played the best, said Gerald Skinner, an astrophysicist at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Following up on a lunchroom discussion with his avid fan tablemates, Skinner, who admits not being a great sports enthusiast, published a research paper in 2009 that worked out the details of his claim using statistical techniques familiar to astronomers. The findings backed up his posturing.

“It’s not entirely a , but the result of an individual football match has got a very large element of chance and  in it,” said Skinner.

June 12, 2010

USA-1, England-1

Solid first effort from the US side and a bit lucky. The story of the game of course is Clint Dempsey’s very soft goal against Robert Green. Fleet Street is going to have a field day with Green, and if England doesn’t make it out of the round robin somehow his life in the UK will never recover.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=jabulani&iid=9093680″ src=”http://view3.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9093680/africa-jabulani/africa-jabulani.jpg?size=500&imageId=9093680″ width=”500″ height=”333″ /]

June 9, 2010

The 2010 World Cup ball — here comes the science

Filed under: et.al., Science, Sports — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:03 am

I’m getting pretty excited about this year’s World Cup. It’s a fun tournament and a truly international sporting event. There’s already been some controversy over this year’s ball, so how did it perform in the lab? Here’s research from the University of Adelaide.

The release:

Will the new World Cup soccer ball bend?

Physics plays a role in on-ground action

Physics experts at the University of Adelaide believe the new ball created for the 2010 World Cup, called the Jabulani, will play “harder and faster”, bending more unpredictably than its predecessor.

But why? And what will it mean for the game?

“The Jabulani is textured with small ridges and ‘aero grooves’ and represents a radical departure from the ultra-smooth Teamgeist ball, which was used in the last World Cup,” says Professor Derek Leinweber, Head of the School of Chemistry & Physics at the University of Adelaide, who has previously written about and lectured on the aerodynamics of cricket balls, golf balls and the 2006 World Cup soccer ball, the Teamgeist.

Along with student Adrian Kiratidis, who is studying for his Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Physics, Professor Leinweber has been reviewing the physics behind soccer balls and what that means for the Jabulani. Adrian is also a soccer enthusiast.

“While the governing body FIFA has strict regulations on the size and weight of the balls, they have no regulations about the outside surface of the balls,” Professor Leinweber says.

“The Teamgeist was a big departure at the last World Cup. Because it was very smooth – much smoother than a regular soccer ball – it had a tendency to bend more than the conventional ball and drop more suddenly at the end of its trajectory.

“By comparison, the aerodynamic ridges on the Jabulani are likely to create enough turbulence around the ball to sustain its flight longer, and be a faster, harder ball in play.

“The Jabulani is expected to ‘bend’ more for the players than any ball previously encountered. Players are also discovering new opportunities to move the ball in erratic ways, alarming the world’s best goalkeepers. By the time the ball reaches the goalkeeper, the Jabulani will have swerved and dipped, arriving with more power and energy than the Teamgeist.”

University of Adelaide students have also put the new World Cup soccer ball to the test on the soccer field. Based on Professor Leinweber’s theories, they’ve attempted to “bend” the Jabulani and have also kicked the Teamgeist and a regular soccer ball for comparison.

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June 2, 2010

Ken Griffey Jr. retired tonight

Ending a great 22-year career as an excellent slugger for years. It’s a bit odd in a way, but how his career gradually wound down with no unexpected huge homer years or shocking bulking up makes him a prime (and maybe one of the only) examples of an almost certain non-juicer in the performance enhancing drugs era.

June 1, 2010

Roger Federer failed to reach the semifinals …

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:54 pm

…. of a Grand Slam event for the first time since the 2004 French Open where he lost in the third round. That’s a streak of 23 straight Grand Slam semis or better performances.

He was beaten by Robin Soderling today, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

Federer was philosophical about the loss and the end of his amazing Grand Slam streak,.”It was a great run. Now I’ve got the quarterfinal streak going, I guess,” Federer said with a smile.

April 3, 2010

Saturday video fun — “God Save the Queen”

Filed under: et.al., Media, Sports — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:34 am

… on a Renault F1 V10 engine.

Crazy.

March 23, 2010

The NFL changed its playoff overtime rule

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:13 pm

I’m honestly shocked, particularly that the vote was so one-sided — 28-4.

From the link:

The NFL owners voted to change an element in the overtime rule, giving the team that loses the coin toss at the start of overtime to get a possession if the coin-toss winning team scores a field goal with the first possession.

The proposal passed 28-4. As it is written, the rules change applies just for the postseason, but the owners also decided to discuss adopting the changes for the regular season at their next meeting, in May in Dallas.

The Buffalo BillsMinnesota VikingsBaltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals voted against the proposal.

The competition committee recommended the change in a vote of 6-2, and commissioner Roger Goodell supported the plan. He was able to secure enough votes to get the proposal passed on Tuesday, a day before the expected Wednesday vote.

The reason for the change was the increased accuracy of kickers since 1993. In 1994, the NFL moved kickoffs from the 35 to the 30, which created better field position for the teams that won the coin toss and received the kickoffs.

Statistics examined by the committee showed that since 1994, teams winning the coin toss win the game 59.8 percent of the time. The team that loses the toss wins the game 38.5 percent in that 15-year span.

March 2, 2010

Beautiful nature image — the Coast Mountains of British Columbia

Filed under: et.al., Media, Sports — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:25 pm

This would also qualify as a beautiful Olympics image

The Coast Mountains of British Columbia are bathed in morning light as they are viewed from Cypress Mountain in Vancouver, British Columbia on Sunday Feb. 21, 2010, prior to the during the men’s ski cross. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick) #

February 28, 2010

Congrats to Canada

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:15 pm

The all-stars just barely beat the kids. What an incredible gold medal hockey game to end the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. It took everything Canada’s all-star studded team could muster to eke out a victory over the extremely youthful team USA.

February 26, 2010

Active video games are good for the elderly

I’ve blogged about the utility of Nintendo’s Wii gaming system before and here’s new research showing that exergames, that is, video games that combine gaming with exercise, can stave off depression in older adults. I love the Wii and heartily recommend the Wii fit plus for all ages to have fun while engaging in light to moderate exercise. It’s great for improving your core strength, muscle tone and balance. (Here’s a link to Amazon for the Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board)

The release, from the second link:

Video games may help combat depression in older adults

IMAGE: Dilip V. Jeste, M.D., is a researcher at the University of California, San Diego.

Click here for more information.

Research at the Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine suggests a novel route to improving the symptoms of subsyndromal depression (SSD) in seniors through the regular use of “exergames” – entertaining video games that combine game play with exercise. In a pilot study, the researchers found that use of exergames significantly improved mood and mental health-related quality of life in older adults with SSD.

The study, led by Dilip V. Jeste, MD, Distinguished Professor of psychiatry and neurosciences at UCSD School of Medicine, Estelle and Edgar Levi Chair in Aging, and director of the UC San Diego Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, appears in the March issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

SSD is much more common than major depression in seniors, and is associated with substantial suffering, functional disability, and increased use of costly medical services. Physical activity can improve depression; however, fewer than five percent of older adults meet physical activity recommendations.

“Depression predicts nonadherence to physical activity, and that is a key barrier to most exercise programs,” Jeste said. “Older adults with depression may be at particular risk for diminished enjoyment of physical activity, and therefore, more likely to stop exercise programs prematurely.”

In the study, 19 participants with SSD ranging in age from 63 to 94 played an exergame on the Nintendo Wii video game system during 35-minute sessions, three times a week. After some initial instruction, they chose one of the five Nintendo Wii Sports games to play on their own – tennis, bowling, baseball, golf or boxing.

Using the Wii remote – a wireless device with motion-sensing capabilities – the seniors used their arm and body movements to simulate actions engaged in playing the actual sport, such as swinging the Wii remote like a tennis racket. The participants reported high satisfaction and rated the exergames on various attributes including enjoyment, mental effort, and physical limitations.

“The study suggests encouraging results from the use of the exergames,” Jeste said. “More than one-third of the participants had a 50-percent or greater reduction of depressive symptoms. Many had a significant improvement in their mental health-related quality of life and increased cognitive stimulation.”

Jeste said feedback revealed some participants started the study feeling nervous about how they would perform in the exergames and the technical aspects of game play. However, by the end of the study, most participants reported that learning and playing the videogames was satisfying and enjoyable.

“The participants thought the exergames were fun, they felt challenged to do better and saw progress in their game play,” Jeste said. “Having a high level of enjoyment and satisfaction, and a choice among activities, exergames may lead to sustained exercise in older adults.” He cautioned, however, that the findings were based on a small study, and needed to be replicated in larger samples using control groups. He also stressed that exergames carry potential risks of injury, and should be practiced with appropriate care.

###

Additional authors include Dori Rosenberg, Jennifer Reichstadt, Jacqueline Kerr and Greg Norman, UCSD Department of Family and Preventative Medicine; and Colin A. Depp, Ipsit V. Vahia and Barton W. Palmer, UCSD Department of Psychiatry.

The study was funded in part by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the UCSD Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

February 25, 2010

Congrats to Kelly Kulick

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:53 am

Winner of the men’s Professional Bowlers Association Tour Tournament of Champions, and the first woman to win a title on the men’s PBA tour. I don’t agree with Rick Reilly a lot of the time (and his writing ability continues on its downhill slide), but he totally nailed this column.

Here’s the key sentence (and what qualifies as a paragraph in the Reilly world of column writing):

What Kulick just did is one of the single greatest female sporting achievements in history.

February 16, 2010

Laissez le bon temps rouler!

Filed under: et.al., Sports — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:04 am

Happy Fat Tuesday, everyone. Have fun and be safe while the good times roll for the Lombardi Gras celebration.

Mardi Gras 2010 -- Lombardi Gras!

February 7, 2010

Oh when the Saints …

Filed under: Media, Sports — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:19 pm

Go marching in.

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January 24, 2010

Congrats to the Colts and the Saints

The Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints advance to Super Bowl XLIV two weeks from now on February 7, 2010, in Miami.

Going into the Indy/New York game I figured 21 points would be enough for the Colts. Turns out I was right, but it certainly didn’t look that way at halftime where the Jets led 17-13.  In fact until the two-minute drill of the first half, the Jets dominated with a little bit of luck and a lot of good play. Especially from rookie QB Mark Sanchez. In the second half the Jets fell to earth, and after three solid quarters Sanchez finally looked like a rookie quarterback in the fourth. The Colts efficiently controlled the entire second half for a 30-17 win.

Just two words are needed for the NFC Championship game: roller coaster. The New Orleans Saints beat the Minnesota Vikings 31-28 in overtime to send the franchise to it’s first Super Bowl. The teams traded punches through an alternately offensive and defensive battle. The Vikings were beset with fumbles, losing three and mostly dominated the second half — particularly the fourth quarter — aside from the crippling mistakes. In field goal range to win the game in regulation, Brett Favre threw an interception with less than 10 seconds remaining in what may well be his final NFL pass.

The NFC Championship game was about as exciting as playoff football can get. The Super Bowl should be an interesting match-up. Hopefully the Saints’ offense from the first half of this season will make the trip to Miami.

January 23, 2010

If you’re watching the Australian Open on DirecTV …

… be sure to head to channel 701 for the Australian Open Mix Channel where you can watch five matches at once, or better yet choose just one of those five to watch. You’re not stuck with whatever the Tennis Channel or ESPN2 is offering up and there’s no commercials. Plus the commentary tends to be pleasantly spare.

January 20, 2010

Canada takes its curling pretty seriously

Filed under: Science, Sports — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:35 am

As evidenced by this research on the perfect curling throw. I have to admit I’m looking forward to watching curling at the upcoming winter Olympic Games. I basically caught some of the sport by accident eight years ago and somehow really got into the slow-moving, yet action packed sport. All that furious sweeping and all.

The release:

The science behind the perfectly delivered curling rock

The centuries old game of curling is being put under the scrutiny of 21st century technology in a bid to help Canada’s best curlers throw their way to gold at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

University of Alberta researchers, Pierre Baudin and Rob Krepps, are analyzing the technical aspects of the game to determine the best way to deliver a curling stone. The research goal is to ensure optimum performance from Canada’s curlers at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic games.

Krepps, who is head coach for the Saville Centre’s National Training Centre (Edmonton) at the U of A, takes this research seriously, but especially so since he was recently appointed as a member of the coaching staff for Canada’s women’s Olympic curling team.

Baudin and Krepps have transformed a curling sheet at the National Training Centre (Edmonton) into a state-of-the-art research lab, fully equipped with eight motion analysis cameras and 12 strategically-placed video cameras.

By having a curler wear reflective markers that capture physical performance digitally on a computer, Baudin and Krepps are able to take a highly detailed look at the biomechanics of a curling stone’s delivery.

They have concluded that there are no secret movements when delivering a curling stone. What really matters is what’s happening with the line, weight and rotation of the rock. With their high-tech approach, Baudin and Krepps say they have been able to help athletes understand critical cause-and-effect principles that can be incorporated into the actual game.

Another significant finding involves the way wheelchair curlers deliver the stone; research that has never been done until now.

One of the biggest issues faced by wheelchair curlers is the friction between the stone and the ice. Baudin and Krepps say they have been able to modify the delivery so wheelchair curlers are better able to overcome the friction that a stationery rock produces.

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On Wednesday, Jan. 20, media are invited to the U of A’s Saville Centre from 1𔃀 p.m. to hear Baudin and Krepps talk about their research and give a demonstration with the help of national-team curler Lori Olson-Johns. Baudin’s and Krepps’ research has been done thanks to a grant by “Own the Podium,” an initiative that puts emphasis on achieving excellence at the Summer and Winter Olympics and the Paralympic Games.

January 17, 2010

Geaux Saints!

My NFL rooting interests run Cowboys, Saints, Raiders. The Raiders are on an extended tear of mediocrity and seem doomed so until Al Davis is no longer in charge of football operations. Dallas is out of the playoffs, so that leaves everything on the backs of New Orleans. Happily that team looks to be more than capable of bearing my extra weight.

This is typically the best weekend of football, but overall it didn’t really match up to last week’s games.  The New Orleans Saints steamrolled the Arizona Cardinals 45-14 and the Indianapolis Colts took care of business against the Baltimore Ravens 20-3 yesterday.

Today the Minnesota Vikings dominated the Dallas Cowboys 34-3 and the New York Jets shocked the San Diego Chargers 17-24.

So heading into divisional weekend my battle cry will be, “geaux Saints!”

January 10, 2010

Congrats to the Cardinals and the Ravens

As fun as yesterday’s wildcard weekend games were to watch, they both look pretty perfunctory next to today’s contests. Even though the result was the same — one and done — the Packers did something today the Patriots couldn’t pull off. Both teams were just punched in the face very early in each game, but the Packers came back with a vengeance through masterful coaching and quarterback play to force overtime.

At the end of this day of football the Arizona Cardinals beat the Green Bay Packers 51-45 in overtime on an Aaron Rodgers fumble and touchdown return by the Cards. Easily the game of the weekend with insane offensive play from both teams.

In the early game the New England Patriots were absolutely dismantled by the Baltimore Ravens, 33-14. And really the score looks a bit generous for the Pats, a team that looks to be on the downside of a good run. Baltimore was impressive and heads to Indy next week with a lot of confidence against a team they’ve had success against in the past.

All in all, a great opening weekend for the NFL playoffs this year.

Doesn’t it seem like the Pats have been a bit star-crossed …

… ever since Spygate broke a couple of years ago? Defensive leader, linebacker Tedy Bruschi suffers a stroke about three years before the story comes to light as an opening karmic salvo against the cheating team by the gods of football. Then last year the franchise, quarterback Tom Brady, loses just about the entire 2008 season to a major knee injury dooming the team to missing the playoffs. Last week star wide receiver Wes Welker blows a knee right before this year’s playoffs. And now today’s display.

What if Spygate went much, much deeper than anyone realizes. Here’s one scenario:

(Note for conceptually and hyperbole challenged readers: the following is satire [see definition number two from the link] and not actual conjecture, analysis or inside information,)

Recall back in the summer of 2005. Patriots owner Bob Kraft meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and hands the world leader his ring from the recent Super Bowl victory over the Philadelphia Eagles for examination. After looking the ring over and trying it on, Putin calmly and smilingly slides the ring into his pocket saying nothing. Essentially daring Kraft to protest this blatant and public theft, and act of total disrespect.

What if, instead of some sort of cultural misunderstanding or just simple robbery by Putin, this act was Putin’s gangster way of exacting a little more flesh from a business associate. Very possibly beyond simple in-stadium cameras trained on opposing sidelines, the New England Patriots engaged the services of Russia’s spy apparatus — namely spy satellites engaged to not only catch signals called, but possibly even sideline conversations through lip-reading technology coupled with real time satellite images capable of pinpoint resolution.

Of course, once you go down that particular rabbit hole, where does it end? Black ops agents infiltrating other NFL teams? Subtle disabling hits (think poisoning — we all know post-USSR Russia has experience and expertise in this field) against opposing players and coaches?

And consider the bitter irony of a team named the “Patriots” getting into bed with the United State’s bitter cold war foe. No wonder the football gods frowned, conferred and rendered a dark judgement asunder.

May the fall of the cheating, and possibly traitorous, New England Patriots be cold, bitter and very, very long.

(Yeah, I know I used “bitter” a lot there in the last two grafs. Maybe it’s the bitter taste in my mouth from these dark revelations.)

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