Sporting Compass: With Dr Pippa Grange and Paul Oliver

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  Sporting Compass: With Dr Pippa Grange and Paul Oliver


As a sports psychologist and founder of Bluestone Edge, I am fortunate to have many conversations with people about the substance and meaning of sport.
My colleague Paul Oliver also engages with people at all levels across the sporting sector to keep his finger on the pulse of the latest news, views and issues.

In this space each fortnight, we will share some of these stories, insights and possibilities in relation to people, culture, ethics and leadership in sport. I hope you enjoy the conversation and we look forward to hearing your thoughts.

All the best, Pippa and Paul



‘‘Big statements are made through actions’

1 May 2014
Category:   WINNING MIND – the art of achieving
Paul Oliver

When I read the recent article ‘Peta Searle gives up coaching dream’ by Samantha Lane in the Age (26 April 2014), I let out an audible sigh bemoaning the fact that sport had potentially lost another good one.

With a little support and opportunity there is no reason Searle could have (and still can) coach at the highest level of the game with distinction. She is a level three accredited coach who has had great success in senior assistant coaching roles with TAC Cup side Western Jets and Port Melbourne in the Victorian Football League.
Read on.. Read on

‘Ethical Leadership in Sport: What’s your ENDgame?’

10 April 2014
Category:   ETHICS AND INTEGRITY – what should we do?
Dr Pippa Grange

Following last week’s well-attended BOSS Summit (Business of Sport Summit) via Twitter has re-affirmed to me that the mark of the next era of sport is going to be questions of ethics and integrity.

Many of the comments posted reflect that integrity has underlined every theme raised at the event – competitive balance, fair play, developing the brand, relationships with multiple stakeholders… the list goes on. Read on.. Read on

‘Social media and our sportspeople – the pleasure and the pain’

27 March 2014
Category:   ETHICS AND INTEGRITY – what should we do?
Paul Oliver

Fans targeting professional players, and players targeting other players with abuse, is not new and has a long history in Australian sport. On any particular weekend at local sporting fields around the country there will also invariably be cases of taunts by players, bullying by spectators, and parents yelling verbal abuse at kids.

Thankfully sport has moved to address this type of behavior through spectator codes of behavior, fines, membership cancellations and complaints processes being available to seek redress. Read on.. Read on

‘The ‘gold standard’ on athlete mental health needs an update’

13 March 2014
Category:   WINNING MIND – the art of achieving
Dr Pippa Grange

There is an argument to say that what happens within sport is to a large degree a mirror of what happens in the rest of society (albeit with some idiosyncrasies and outliers). If this is the case when it comes to mental health, then elite athletes are indeed in trouble.

Current figures estimate that around 45% of Australians will experience moderate to high levels of psychological distress across their lifetime – just short of half of us. Read on.. Read on

‘The BEST way to support and care for our young sportspeople’

27 February 2014
Category:   WINNING MIND – the art of achieving
Dr Pippa Grange

If we lead with our hearts, they will never walk alone….

What is a 39-year-old Maori woman with an immense passion for helping others and who cares deeply about cultural diversity doing living in Sydney, over 2000km from her homeland?

My husband and I are house parents for a progressive-thinking NRL club and have eight young sportsmen living with us for the 2014 season. We provide a network of support that they wouldn’t normally have at home. Quite simply, we are living the dream and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Read on.. Read on

‘Sport: A black day with a silver lining’

14 February 2014
Category:   ETHICS and INTEGRITY – what should we do?
Dr Pippa Grange

There has been much negative commentary in the media and sporting circles around the press conference one year ago where the ministers of the day, Kate Lundy and Jason Clare, announced the outcomes of the Australian Crime Commission’s inquiry and report into organised crime and drugs in Australian sport. Our favourite national pastime was under attack they declared. A bombshell was detonated that day, whose aftershocks are still rippling across the Australian sports landscape. Read on …

‘Sport should be a space for everyone’

30 January 2014
Category:   SPORT/SOCIAL JUSTICE – for good and for glory
Dr Pippa Grange

In an article I wrote for Play by the Rules last year (Breaking down the barriers within sport), I discussed some of the thinking behind some of the standard responses used to justify homophobic behavior in sport, and highlighted the injurious effect these actions have on both individuals and sport in general. While momentum has been building on the subject of anti-homophobia in sport over the past few years, I have been critical of the apathy shown towards addressing the issue by sporting hierarchies, which to date has been dismissive, disappointing and frustratingly slow. Read on.. Read on

‘Failure is just a step on the road to success’

20 December 2013
Category:   WINNING MIND – the art of achieving
Dr Pippa Grange

“So this is Christmas / And what have you done / Another year over / And a new one just begun . . .”

The whimsicalness of this line from the classic John Lennon Christmas jingle carries with it the crippling weight of expectation and judgment; for December is definitely a time when we all take stock and reflect on our achievements (or lack thereof) throughout the past year. It’s when we measure our (often metaphorical) successes and failures, and more often than not, we self-flagellate on why we didn’t or what we couldn’t, rather than being content with what we did. Read on

‘Sport – the great teacher’

13 December 2013
Category:   WINNING MIND – the art of achieving
Guest blog from Stephanie Dale

Eighty-three year old Margaret Fisher has carried a crumpled piece of paper in her wallet since 1953. That was the year, as an inspired young Australian from country NSW, she set her sights on an impossible dream: tennis’s holy grail – Wimbledon.

Scrawled on the paper in her own handwriting is a quote from Kipling, that is etched into the double gates marking the entryway to the famous courts: Read on

‘Don’t DIS anyone’s ABILITY’

3 December 2013
Category:   SPORT/SOCIAL JUSTICE – equality and inclusion
Guest blog from Paul Oliver

In a deadpan voice, masking the gravity of the words that flowed, the doctor said to my mum: “Your child should not take part in any high-impact activities like jumping or running. He’ll be bed-ridden for two years with his legs permanently strapped to a metal brace.” Read on

‘Drugs in sport – the carrot not the stick’

28 November 2013
Category:   ETHICS AND INTEGRITY – what should we do?

Drugs in sport are back in the news of late. In fact, since Lance Armstrong came clean it seems the issue has never been out of the spotlight. Armstrong admitted in January to years of using performance-enhancing drugs to help him in cycling. He claimed he competed on a level playing field because many of his rivals doped and feels he was unfairly targeted for punishment. Read on

‘Getting women on board is good for sport’

19 November 2013
Category:   LEADERSHIP – it starts at the top

It’s been a fantastic year for Australia’s sportswomen and our national women’s teams, with some wonderful performances on the world stage. This success was acknowledged last week with two of our finest, Kim Crow and Caroline Buchanan, sharing the top honour at the 2013 AIS Athlete of the Year Awards held in Canberra. Read on

‘Sport – it’s part of who (some of us) are’

12 November 2013
Category:   CULTURE – what’s the story?

Sport in some societies, like the UK, New Zealand or Australia, has long been embedded in the culture and hard to separate from the national identity, especially when it comes to national-level competition – the recent London Olympics has only served to cement this further. The winter weekends in any of these countries also sees millions of fans avidly following their football team with a sense of belonging and a deep investment in what ‘our’ result is against a common adversary. Sport seems to be an important factor in how some people see their lifestyles and their identities. Read on

‘Women in sport – fitting in’

4 November 2013
Category:   WINNING MIND – the art of achieving

I am currently on tour in the UK and France with the New Zealand rugby league team in pursuit of their World Cup title defense at the end of November. Last night they offered me the honour of being guest speaker at the Test dinner before the game. I spoke about strength in teams, and what I had seen develop and deepen in this squad over the last 18 months. I was also asked to present the jumpers to the players selected for the France game (1 November) – something that humbled me greatly. Read on

‘The importance of play in children’s lives’

28 October 2013
Category:   SPORT/SOCIAL JUSTICE – for good and for glory

I listened to a podcast recently from one of Australia’s leading advocates for children’s play (Vice President of the International Play Association, Robyn Monro Miller) who was speaking about the release of a UN toolkit to help governments around the world implement play initiatives. She explained that it is essential for a child’s healthy physical and emotional development that they have time for unstructured spontaneous play. Read on

‘Leaders lead through action, not talk’

1 October 2013
Category:   LEADERSHIP – it starts at the top

In March this year, on International Women’s Day, a man delivered a speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York, which attracted little fanfare. 

The father of three boys told the assembled crowd: “I have never routinely experienced discrimination in my career, nor the apprehension of violence in my personal life. Most benefits of masculinity and patriarchy have accrued to me. Nonetheless, I hope those considerable limitations in my perspective can in part be offset by my sincere intent to support women in my organisation to thrive in the absence of both.” Read on

‘The courage to have a go’

23 September 2013
Category:   WINNING MIND – the art of achieving

We talk a lot about courage in a sporting context these days: the courage to take a contested mark, to take off on a big wave, make a big tackle or come from behind and win an epic swim. While all of these actions are commendable – what is the real essence of courage in sport? Read on

‘The good, bad and ugly sides of sport’

16 September 2013
Category:   ETHICS AND INTEGRITY – what should we do?

Well, it was another week of sport delivering the good, the bad and the downright ugly. There’s certainly too much of the negative and not enough of the positive in sport for my liking recently.

We may not have reached the dizzying heights of the 2013 NFL off-season with 37 players being arrested or charged with crimes, but there certainly has been a lot of talk in the media, in the stands and on the couches about the current state of sport in Australia. Is it in disarray? Has it lost its meaning? Does it need to be saved? Read on

‘One in all in’ – sport, culture and alcohol

9 September 2013
Category:   CULTURE – what’s the story?

It’s Monday; for some people in sport it will involve ‘madness’ in the form of drinking many beers, being silly, dressing up and releasing the pressure valve built up over a season of physical and social compromises as athletes (and administrators). This is the time when athletes can feel they get to be like everyone else their age and let loose without concerns of skinfold measures, hydration, tomorrow’s training or next weekend’s game. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with that. We each have traditions that mark relevant moments in time, beginnings and ends, successes and failures, and in Australia many such markers involve drinking alcohol. Read on

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