La Trobe University is proud to be the number one University for sport in Australia. Two key undergraduate programs within the La Trobe sport course offerings are delivered by LBS, and are the Bachelor of Business (Sport Management) at our Melbourne campus and the Bachelor of Business (Sport Development and Management) at our Bendigo campus. A third key program, at the postgraduate level and delivered by LBS, is the Master of Management (Sport Management).
Sport is a rapidly growing and significant global industry offering a range of career opportunities. Our degrees are designed and delivered in collaboration with industry professionals. These courses combine business foundations with essential sport-specific knowledge and skills. We offer valuable placement and network opportunities and exposure to potential areas of employment.
In the undergraduate degrees, in addition to work integrated learning experiences through our Sport Practicum subject, sport management students at both campuses are provided with opportunities to volunteer at a variety of sport and active recreation events and activities during their time as a student. Students have volunteered at Melbourne City, Melbourne Rebels and most recently with Hockey Australia for the International Festival of Hockey. Students are required to apply formally for these opportunities and through this process develop their CV writing and interview experience. This process also ensures that the sport organisations receive the very best student candidates for these valuable volunteer placements.
Two students, Tianna (Bendigo) and Sam (Bundoora) (pictured above) have been volunteering with Hockey Australia this year, culminating in the festival held in Bendigo on November 19th. Ben Hartung, the General Manager – Hockey, noted that “Sam and Tianna, our two brilliant interns, are working at the International Festival of Hockey … They are both playing keys roles in the organisation of the Festival components in Melbourne and Bendigo and they have been embraced by the entire Hockey Australia team. We are very lucky to have them as part of our team”.
The International Festival of Hockey is a fun-filled family event that saw Australia’s home favourites, the iconic Kookaburras and Hockeyroos, take on some of their biggest international rivals, India, Malaysia and New Zealand. Hot off the back of their Olympic Games campaign, the Australian men’s team – the Kookaburras – host India, Malaysia and New Zealand in a four nations competition in Melbourne before taking on India in two further test matches in Bendigo. Also playing in Australia for the first time since the Olympics, the Hockeyroos – the women’s team – go head-to-head against India in three test matches in Melbourne.
The sport management programs at La Trobe University pride ourselves on creating engaged and work-ready graduates. By providing more opportunities for students, outside of their formal education, the program ensure that our students are best placed to build their CV during their time with us and to gain employment on completion of their studies.
2015 was declared a watershed year for women in sport. The Matildas barnstorming run at the 2015 Women’s FIFA World Cup. The Australian Diamonds triumphant win in the Netball World Cup in front of a world-record crowd. The Southern Stars held the No.1 ranking for all three forms of the game. Michelle Payne won the Melbourne Cup. However, the doubters questioned whether it would stick.
But in 2016 the momentum continued. The highest-rating Saturday night AFL game in Melbourne was the women’s exhibition match at Whitten Oval. Cricket NSW announced that the Breakers would be the first domestic Australian women’s team to be fully professional. In 2017, Australia will welcome a new Australian netball league with a salary cap of $675,000 for 10 players, and a brand new AFL league for women.
But is the rise of women’s sport opportunity, or opportunism? Are sports organisations coming around to the idea that they should provide equal opportunities for female athletes, or is it simply good business sense to do so? This was the topic of a panel at this year’s Sports Writers Festival. The consensus was it’s probably a bit of both.
A panel that included broadcaster and documentary maker Angela Pippos, former SBS Zela editor Danielle Warby, Age sports editor Chloe Saltau and freelance journalist Karen Lyon – hosted by Lynn Haultain – discussed several reasons why women’s sport was booming.
Put simply the key triggers appear to be that more women are playing sport, many of them in traditionally male dominated fields, and more sports fans are enjoying watching them. Saltau noted that this led to a situation where there is an “arms race” for female athletes. Major sporting codes suddenly aren’t just providing opportunities for women to play, they have been trying to outbid each other to become the sport of choice for women at the elite level. Suddenly, there has never been more value in women’s sport.
But as a sports journalism lecturer and sports media researcher, one of the most interesting points in the panel for me was the recognition that the sports media narrative around women’s sport is changing. Historically sports media has trivialised women and coverage was often sexualised.
Some of my previous research in this area found though that Australian journalists and editors had started to question these news values. For example, a journalist said this about stories on women’s sport:
“You know, a lot of the editorial decisions you see here are made on instinct, thinking we want to see Sharapova in a pretty dress, we want to see those sorts of images and those sorts of stories in the paper but, is that what people are genuinely interested in?”
The consensus in the room at the Sports Writers Festival would suggest the landscape has moved forward again. In fact, the panel noted that “that Sam Newman way” of seeing the world is shrinking. Instead, we are seeing thoughtful stories about players with thoroughly interesting backgrounds, such as Moana Hope and Susan Alberti.
There is still be work to done. The panel noted an important step in adding legitimacy to coverage of women’s sport is to include female commentators and experts in it. But generally, there was a feeling that the ongoing professionalism of women’s sport is starting to be reflected in its coverage.
As Angela Pippos aptly noted on the panel, “I’ve spent a few months thinking wow, I’m going to see change in my lifetime.” While Pippos was at the time talking about the chance for women to earn living wages playing sport, it’s also applicable to the representation of female athletes in the media.
In the lead-up to the 800m women’s final at the recent Rio Olympic Games, much of the lead up discussion focused on the South African athlete Caster Semenya. The history of sex verification in sport has been long and for many traumatic, with international sport organisations policing women with “masculine” features, subjecting them to a barrage of blood test, scans and physical examinations. However in sport, the traditional gender binary of male and female has been challenged and the right of intersex athletes to compete on the world stage has now been established by the Court of Arbitration of Sport.
What is intersex? “Intersex” is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. Differences may be found in anatomy or genetics, however intersex anatomy doesn’t always show up at birth. Sometimes a person isn’t found to have intersex anatomy until she or he reaches the age of puberty, or finds himself an infertile adult, or dies of old age and is autopsied. Some people live and die with intersex anatomy without anyone (including themselves) ever knowing (Source: www.isna.org)
Caster Semenya’s case, and those of other athletes such as India’s Dutee Chand has been strongly fought over a number of years, with the international governing body of athletics (IAAF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The primary source of disagreement between the athletes, genetic and endocrine specialists, and the sport organisations is the inability for the science to draw a “line in the sand” between a male and female athlete.
In July 2015, the Court of Arbitration for Sport found that the IAAF policy regarding levels of testosterone in female athletes was not justified, noting: “While the evidence indicates that higher levels of naturally occurring testosterone may increase athletic performance, the Panel is not satisfied that the degree of that advantage is more significant than the advantage derived from the numerous other variables which the parties acknowledge also affect female athletic performance: for example, nutrition, access to specialist training facilities and coaching and other genetic and biological variations.”. The decision of the court ordered that the rules to be shelved until the IAAF could provide further evidence that could show there was a clear difference between male and female testosterone levels, and how big an advantage the extra testosterone gave hyperandrogenic women. This decision subsequently saw the IOC also change its gender policy, noting that it would not regulate women’s natural testosterone levels until the issue is resolved via further scientific research.
She did exceptionally well in the final, and won gold. But regardless of the result, she will forever remembered at these games for her bravery and strength in continuing to compete in a sport that she loves against all odds.
For the first time in the history of Australian participation in the summer Olympic Games, we have more female athletes representing our country than males. The team travelling to Rio hosts 214 women and 206 men, with cyclist Anna Meares being awarded the role as flag bearer for the team at the Opening Ceremony this weekend. Indeed, women have key leadership roles in this Games, with the Chef de Mission, Kitty Chiller, making headlines this week in her strong advocacy for the health and safety of her athletes and officials accompanying the team to Rio.
Australian women have been competing at the Olympic Games since 1912; our first female athletes were Fanny Durack and Wilhelmina Wylie at Stockholm in the sport of swimming. Australian female representation increased from 16% at Munich in 1972 to 46% at Beijing in 2008 and London 2012, where Australian female athletes won over half of all of the medals. In the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics the Australian team saw 50/50 representation for the first time across both sexes in any Olympic Games.
Charlotte Sutherland, Meaghan Volker, Fiona Albert, Lucy Stephan, Molly Goodman, Jessica Morrison, Olympia Aldersey, Alexandra Hagan and Sarah Banting (coxswain) have all been selected and these nine women tipped the gender balance of the Australian team.
The International Olympic Committee has worked for many years to promote women in sport, both on and off the field of play. The goal of gender equality is enshrined in the Olympic Charter, the guiding document for all Olympic organisations, while defining strategies to dismantle gender barriers is the primary goal of the IOC’s Women and Sport Commission.
The International Olympic Committee has recently come under fire as a result of their decision not to enforce a blanket ban against the Russian Olympic team from competing in the Rio games. The ban was to come as a result of recent reports which found that the team engaged in state-sponsored doping during the 2014 Winter games.
The IOC indicated that it decided against a blanket ban to protect the rights of clean athletes who wished to compete in the Rio games. Accordingly, it is now up to individual sports federation to determine each Russian athlete’s eligibility to compete in the Rio games.
When asked why the IOC went down this path LBS Professor of Practice Ordway discusses the complex nature of the situation and concludes by saying that “They [the IOC] have a number of other events that they were scheduled to be holding in Russia. They’re a big player on the world scene. A country like Russia may be too big and too powerful for them [the IOC] to take on head on.”
Professor of Practice Catherine Ordway was featured on ABC’s 666 ABC Canberra Breakfast with Philip Clark, commenting on the issue around potentially banning Russian athletes from participation in the Rio Olympic Games after the publication of the McLaren Report.
Catherine Ordway spoke about whether the IRC has the freedom to make a decision on whether or not to allow Russian athletes to compete, and what difficulties they face making a decision like this.
Vicsport offered students unique insights into the Victorian sport industry through its event ‘Standing Out From The Crowd’ at La Trobe’s Bundoora campus on Monday 16 May. This was organised in partnership with Pam Kappelides, Practicum Coordinator for Sport Management (Bundoora and Bendigo Campuses).
The presentation provided La Trobe third-year sports management students the chance to hear from a panel of four knowledgeable speakers from the Vicsport Professional Network (VPN). The panel was attended by 80 students.
Students were first given four 10-minute lectures from Alexis Carydis (Graduate of Sport Management Program 2 years ago/National Pathway Coordinator, Netball Australia), Bronwyn Madigan (Owner/Director, Event Dynamix), Grant Cosgriff (Executive Director, Triathlon Victoria) and Angelique Lele (Operations Manager, Sportspeople) who stressed the importance of upskilling, teamwork and networking when entering the workforce.
The audience was then broken into four groups for individual workshops, led by the speakers, who discussed valuable pointers aimed at maximising the students employment chances following the completion of their degrees.
The panel was then available for questions and networking following the session to provide further insightful industry knowledge and answer any specific queries the students had. Lecturer for Sport Management at La Trobe, Pam Kappelides, said events like “Standing Out From the Crowd” allow her students to gain ‘real life examples’ from people working in the field. “Bringing people out to students, who are currently in the industry makes them start to think like graduates rather than students,” she said.
“It makes them realise they need to start thinking about how they’ll go about getting jobs.”
“Vicsport gives them an edge because not every degree does this… La Trobe students get exclusive access to these events to expand their skills and knowledge.”
The VPN is a membership program that provides professional sport development and networking opportunities specifically for Sports Administrators. Vicsport are one of many organisations who have sport partnerships with La Trobe University, aimed at creating meaningful educational, research, social and community outcomes through sport.
Watch the highlights from the speakers’ presentations in the clip below:
On 28 April 2016, LBS Professor of Practice Catherine Ordway was featured on 666 ABC Radio Canberra’s Drive. Catherine commented on Australia’s appearance in WADA’s report as one of the top ten global offenders for doping in 2014.
Recently, Sports Management specialist and La Trobe Business School Professor of Practice Catherine Ordway, was featured on the ABC Radio news speaking about the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport on the Essendon supplements case.
I am not surprised by the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s finding of anti-doping rule violations by the Essendon Football Club players. It’s the right decision and I am pleased the panel found the evidence supports the claim made by ASADA that the players had been injected with a prohibited substance.
The 34 current and former Essendon players, whether innocent or not depending on your perspective, were found to have been injected with the banned peptide Thymosin Beta-4. They have been suspended until November 2016 after a tumultuous three years of intense scrutiny.
The outstanding takeaway from the CAS decision for the players and the board members of the Essendon Football Club is this: Ask more questions.
Essendon chief executive Xavier Campbell (left) and chairman Lindsay Tanner at a press conference after the CAS handed down its decision. Picture: Michael Dodge/Getty Images
Players accepted what they were told by their coaches and trainers and ignored warning signs: Why wasn’t the club doctor involved? Why were they being taken to an off-site location? Where was the documented individual player injection programs? Why weren’t there medical files for each player? What were they being injected with on each occasion? Was it approved for human consumption? How were the performance improvements being measured?
As ASADA CEO Ben McDevitt said: “At best, the players did not ask the questions, or the people, they should have. At worst, they were complicit in a culture of secrecy and concealment.”
The starting point under the World Anti-Doping Code is that all athletes take full responsibility for any substance ingested into their body. Despite the players receiving anti-doping education, and the supplements program not being administered by the club doctor Bruce Reid – he was excluded from the program – players took the word of Stephen Dank, employed as a sports scientist by Essendon.
If the players believed what they were being told about the program being WADA compliant, why didn’t they declare the injections on the ASADA doping control forms as required? Is it because they didn’t know, and didn’t want to know, what they were being injected with?
Beyond requirements for athlete support personnel under the WADA Code, conduct of this kind in any other industry would attract jail time.
While players should have asked more questions, fault for this scandal lies much further up the line: multiple governance failings and weaknesses created this perfect storm. The governance within the club has been described as appalling; with major structural and accountability deficiencies identified.
To a large extent, these issues have now been resolved and the recommendations outlined in Dr Ziggy Switkowki’s 2013 report followed. Dr Reid admits that he could have done much more to prevent the program, although he did try to have it stopped; an instruction which was ignored.
Former Essendon coach James Hird. Picture; Michael Dodge/Getty Images
Another crucial factor to be considered is the team environment versus athletes competing in individual sports. Although all the players were over 18, senior players and people with “god-like” charisma, such as that ascribed to Essendon head coach James Hird, can have an enormous influence in a team setting. This was not explored by the CAS panel.
I wonder whether this presents a research opportunity: comparing the influence a long-term, one-on-one coaching relationship has on a young, impressionable individual athlete verses the pressures within a team environment, and whether these are factors the CAS panel should have taken into account.
From here, there are two ways the 34 players can explore further legal options. First, lawyers for the players could appeal the CAS finding to the Swiss Federal Tribunal. This, however, I suspect is unlikely. The CAS decision thoroughly sets out why the panel felt they were “comfortably satisfied” with the evidence presented. The “comfortable satisfaction” standard of proof sits somewhere between the criminal standard of beyond reasonable doubt and the civil standard of the balance of probabilities.
The second approach is for players to lodge civil action against the Essendon Football Club for a breach of the club’s duty of care toward them, and citing a loss of reputation, current and/or future earnings and potential damage to players’ future mental and physical health. As the products have not been approved for human consumption, we have no idea what the injections’ impact could be, with the possibility they may lead to heart conditions, fertility issues, susceptibility to various cancers or impacts on their unborn children.
The CAS finding that the players were injected with an unapproved substance will undoubtedly now be used against the club in expensive civil proceedings.
At a time when there have been numerous failings around governance in sport internationally — including a raft of reports that have given international federations responsible for football, cricket, cycling and athletics a shake-up — the Essendon case is important. The CAS ruling makes it clear athletes need to do more and take more responsibility for their own health and wellbeing, even in a team environment. Players and officials cannot rely entirely on information they are given within the club. Players must do their own independent research and ask more questions.
Catherine Ordway is a Professor of Practice in La Trobe Business School, specialising in sport management. She has more than 20 years experience in the Sports Industry and continues to provide consultancy services to Olympic bidding cities, government agencies and sporting organisations on integrity and anti-doping issues. Catherine is a member of the SportAccord (GAISF), IBAF (baseball), ICC and West Indies (cricket) anti-doping tribunals, and is the IAAF (athletics) medical and anti-doping delegate for Australia.