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From the Editors

Why sport is fundamental to the fabric of life

Western Bulldogs fans cheer on their team
Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

A couple of weeks ago we published an article that seemed to strike a chord with The Conversation’s readers. “Dreading footy season? You’re not alone – 20% of Australians are self-described sport haters” used survey data to examine why so many people have a negative reaction to sport. It was read more than 17,000 times and was well received.

In the normal course of events, this would be pleasing, but on this occasion, it was faintly alarming. For some months we had been working behind the scenes on a plan to hire a new editor to increase our coverage of sport. What if our readers don’t share our enthusiasm?

Sport is so finely woven into the fabric of life in Australia and New Zealand that it’s difficult to ignore. No serious media outlet can pretend it doesn’t exist, and I think to do so would be a mistake.

The Conversation’s unique model of pairing academic experts with journalists to produce thoughtful explanatory journalism means we are perfectly placed to bring something different to sports coverage, something available nowhere else.

The Conversation works with the sports scientists at the major universities and we have access to experts in areas like biomechanics and human movement and everything from psychology to physics. We can cover sport as a health story and a science story, shedding light on everything from how Sam Kerr curls a football into the net to how Nathan Lyon can spin a cricket ball.

We also work with lawyers, sociologists and historians who can tell us about the role sport plays in our lives, and how it is celebrated in the arts, theatre, music and literature.

In “Life-cycle”, his poem about Australian Football, Bruce Dawe described how Victorian babies are wrapped in club colours from birth and then initiated into a lifetime’s barracking in which “the tides of life will be the tides of the home team’s fortunes”.

Photograph of The Conversation Sport + Society Editor Niall Seewang
The Conversation’s new Sports Editor Niall Seewang.

Our new sports editor, Niall Seewang, started work last week and is busily getting to know all the best writers on sport and planning our coverage of the Paris Olympics.

If you’re an academic with an interest in sport you should get in touch with him and if you’re a reader please keep an eye out for our coverage.

And for Niall, welcome to The Conversation, and to crib one more line from Dawe’s poem, may it always be “three-quarter-time with the scores level and the wind advantage in the final term”.

We’d love to hear from you about what you’d like our new sport desk to cover. Comments are open below.

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