Increasingly, stakeholders at all levels of sport understand and value the contribution that sports scientists make to improving athletic performance and encouraging healthy participation. Sports scientists have rightly become essential members of athlete support teams, with senior sports scientists taking on performance management responsibilities that require them to oversee several aspects of an athlete’s preparation.
Sports Science, without question, is the biggest and most important change in my lifetime.
– Sir Alex Ferguson (Former Manager of Manchester United, from 1986 – 2013)
Although sports science has grown in its importance to Australian sport for decades, this is a short history when compared to established occupations such as sports medicine professionals (e.g., physios, doctors). Being a young profession has its upsides, particularly in a field that is driven by innovation. However, in light of recent allegations of malpractice, we are now at a critical juncture in the progression towards widespread professional recognition. All of us in the sports science community – whether currently employed or aspiring sports scientists – have a responsibility to remain informed and to contribute to the discussions surrounding the development of legislation and regulatory structures.
“Practice of Sports Science in Australia” (Senate Inquiry Report, 23 July 2013)
These discussions are important steps towards legitimising sports science as an established profession, but more importantly, these discussions will inform the development of guidelines for sports scientists to reinforce the inherent ethical responsibility of our work: serving the best interests of the athletes in our care.