Edition number 6; dateline 21 September 2007

Good Crieff and great expectations
The news that The Leisure Review is to be [shout this bit] The Official Media Partner of the Scottish Sports Development Conference is nearly as momentous for the event’s organising group as it is for us. Not because we are a powerhouse in the world of web-based leisure publishing – which we are – but because it signals the growing independence of the conference from the professional bodies from which it sprang. Born from a serendipitous conversation between leading lights from NASD and ILAM, the conference enjoyed the support of both organisations up until two became one at the turn of this year. Since then, however, wholehearted support and offers of funding have not been flowing from ISPAL’s Grotto House and in order to protect the event – now in its fourth year and “going gang busters” – the entirely voluntary organising group will be delivering the two-day feast of training, updating and networking on their Jack Jones. Bookings for the 21/22 November are flooding in and with Sport Scotland – that rare thing: a national sports development agency with its head not up its own arse – offering their generous support, expectations of another fantastic conference are not unreasonable. STOP PRESS: The complete programme and booking form is now available in pdf format. Click here to download it

String theory
Part of Row Z’s remit is to act as a campaigning organ when such is required and, with autumn fast approaching,  we intend to get our shoulder behind the wheel of the World Conker Championships. Not because it is clearly a piece of quixotic tomfoolery (cf The Leisure Review) but because this year it is sponsored by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) who are trying to counter the kind of ‘bonkers conkers’ stories in which ‘elf n’ safety’ (their expression) is blamed for outrageous acts of institutional over-reaction – such as Barney Baloney, a clown from Sheffield, being banned from making balloon animals at a Tesco store in Leeds because of fears that people who came into contact with the balloons could have an allergic reaction. To quote Lisa Fowlie, president of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH): “The stories that make the headlines blaming health and safety for unpopular (and often ridiculous) decisions rarely name and shame. Who actually made the decision? Did someone without any health and safety experience need an easy way out at the last minute?  It’s easier to blame ‘elf 'n' safety’ rather than admit poor management or lack of preparation.” The IOSH’s light touch is in stark contrast to an institute that must remain nameless within our own profession that offers a series of po-faced publications including the ISRM (oops) Guidance to Pool Operators on the Use of Arm Bands, which features the deathless advice: “Misuse of arm bands can lead to deflation and subsequent risk to the user.” Unlike the IOSH, Row Z will not be entering a team in the Conker Championships on 14 October but we will be sending them a message of confraternal support and risking one day’s biscuit money on their progress if Paddy Power will take our money.

The news process: filtering the flow
It was like Christmas morning in the Row Z office recently when both our ISPAL and ISRM newsletters arrived almost simultaneously. Eager fingers clicked on the latest from Loughborough and found that once again virtually every story was culled from other sources, a sore disappointment given the plethora of swimming and filtration related stories that must abound at ISRM HQ. ‘Borrowing’ material is not an accusation you could level at the idiosyncratic denizens of The Grotto House, of course, whose news pages are clearly penned by an original master – or mistress – of the marketing art.  The institute formerly known as ILAM would never stoop to using someone else’s work to pad out their own efforts, you’d think. However, such is the hypnotic nature of the flashing, whirring but never clunking ISPAL website that before anyone in the vicinity could say ‘knife’ the work experience lass had – and we believe the correct term is ‘navigated’ – to the ‘information hub’ deep within the recesses of ISPAL’s electronic shop window. Billed as “a valuable current awareness service indexing articles of substance”, this section shows links to all manner of technical matter including one or two originally published in Recreation, a title which the alert reader will know is produced by none other than the Institute for Swimming and Recreation Management.

Heading up stream
And while we are promulgating tales from the riverbank, word reaches us through circuitous channels that we will soon have to find another childish allusion when we report on matters at ISPAL HQ as the institute formerly etc are upping sticks, not to London as previously reported but to somewhere within sight of the dreaming spires of Oxford. And they are flogging off the Thames-side baronial pile that currently houses their rapidly diminishing staff team. ILAM worthies will be turning in their potting sheds at the loss of their beloved alma mater, especially as former chief executive, the ‘heroic’ David Teasdale, had shown every indication of “retaining the asset”. “Put not your faith in princes”, as they say; you never know what the king might say.

The oval ball and the cockerel
On a lighter note, the Rugby World Cup has Sideliner crowing, not at the Lilywhites’ performances so far, but at the number of the old hack’s pre-tournament predictions so far proved correct. Flicking back only one edition, the avid reader will find that your very own Nostradamus predicted the Argentinian win in the opening game and the Tongan red card. On the down side, admittedly the prediction that England will reach the semis is looking ‘distinctly iffy’. However, Sideliner remains convinced that the Welsh adventure will end in tears.

More oval balls
And speaking of RWC-inspired lachrymosity, the following sentence from an ITV website report of Scotland’s game against Romania will bring tears to the eye of dyed-in-the-wool rugby types and fellow Canutes fighting the rising tide of Americanisms in our usage: “The inside centre kicked into the right corner of Romania’s try zone before winning the foot race to the ball to touch down for a great start.” Strewth.


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