An article appeared recently in a variety of news sources making bold claims: “Good Sports: Longer Lives Linked to Swimming, Racquetball” said one headline I saw. It wasn’t long before similar headlines bounced around social media as a means to justify participating in one sport or not participating in others. Essentially, the news article I read suggested that playing racquet sports and swimming leads to a longer life than if playing other sports such as soccer or participating in fitness classes.
But we have to be careful how we interpret journalistic headlines and we need to understand the background behind the scientific discovery. Having written so many scientific articles and seen journalists and others create “eye-catching” headlines from my work to manipulate what I wrote to catch the attention of their audience, I understand how dangerous this can be!
This is why athletes, coaches, and those working in sports organizations need to utilize the services of experts and scientists to take what science has discovered and interpret it and apply it correctly. Without doing so, mistakes or misinterpretations are made that can be costly. Although this headline above is just an example that I’m using, headlines like this show up all the time.
Let’s go back to the headline that I just mentioned. One would assume that the article then mentions racquetball right? Well, no, it doesn’t. At no point in the article did the writer reference racquetball again. Yet many people will assume that longer lives are linked to swimming and racquetball because of the headline. But that isn’t what the original research said!
Here is a link to the original scientific article. Within the article there are several mediating points that should be noted (there are more but these are the main ones in my opinion):
It’s difficult to make wholesale conclusions from one study, but media outlets do have a tendency to do this. They sensationalize information without clearly placing the information within the specific parameters in which the study was conducted.
My point is not to suggest that some sports are bad for you or that others are better for you. Really, the study’s actual findings aren’t that important for the point I’m trying to make. My point is to highlight how necessary it is to have scientific experts in your corner to provide guidance when you, your athlete, or your organization is trying to perform at an elite level.
Headlines are everywhere, especially when it comes to diet and nutrition, and taking information at face value can be detrimental to performance. Sports performance should be based on science, but it should be based on science that works and can be applied within the context of the experiment.
Be careful how you interpret headlines. Search for the facts, and if you need help, contact someone who can help you get it right, which ultimately leads to better outcomes. That’s what GOAT Sports Performance is all about: becoming the best you’re capable of becoming.
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