Message from Bob Feb 2015

The Chief, Singapore Sports Institute, Bob Gambardella shares his thoughts on the importance of innovation in sports and how the introduction of key elements can lead to substantive changes in an eco-system

What is innovation?

Flop

Diagram of the Fosbury Flop, (image attributed to Creative Commons)

Last year, I had the pleasure of hosting Richard ‘Dick’ Fosbury at the Singapore Sports Institute. 

As many of you would know, Dick is one of the most influential athletes in the history of track and field by inventing the unique “back-first” technique in high jump that has since revolutionised the sport and is adopted as the standard by all high-jumpers today.

Dick’s adjustment in technique created a quantum leap in performance and is an excellent example of how innovation, which may seem to be minor or costless, can fundamentally change a sport.

Another example of innovation in a sport that is close to my heart, is the growth of Beach Volleyball. Originally derived from indoor volleyball, Beach Volleyball was once just a seaside diversion for families and individuals.  However, with many modifications and with the addition of entertainment elements, it has become a major global sport. Since 2000, it has become a highlight of the Olympic Games, categorized as the fastest growing “Emerging Sport” in NCAA history since its introduction in 2012 and has a global TV distribution reaching 697 million households across five continents. Beach Volleyball continues to grow as a popular and valuable sporting commodity, and serves as a growth engine for the entire sport of volleyball. 

Innovation can be found everywhere

Innovation can come in many forms – from minor to major modifications, inventive collaborations and the introduction of new elements into an ecosystem. One of the roles of the Singapore Sports Institute is to help build greater capabilities across all sports and disciplines, however, the ideas and the motivation must also come from – and be owned by - the National Sports Associations themselves, officials, athletes and the grassroots. With the continued growth of sports in Singapore and the New Partnership, we are in a great position to blaze a trail together and in my opinion, there is never a better time for innovation than the present.

 

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