@tomhfh I can assure you that I am not the one who is confused. Let’s take weight - a weight class exists for boxing in BOTH men AND in women. Why is that? What would happen if we mix the sexes at the same weight? So again, let me ask, since you feel you know this: How would you do it?
@tomhfh Let’s take the first step. We use weight. We say that a male at 70kg should be accepted into women’s sport at 70kg. Now we discovered that this male is 34% stronger than the weight-matched female. Now what? We have to screen for strength, is that right? How do we do this in a
@tomhfh …credible and valid way? Which tests would you use? What about punching power, which is 260% higher in males? Even if that is adjusted for mass, it stays say 150% higher. Which test might be conducted to match those together? Now think about speed - males are 10-15% faster than
@tomhfh …females, so if you're doing this in football, or rugby or hockey, you now need an algorithm or some kind of adjustment factor that accounts for mass, strength, power, speed. And we haven’t yet considered skeleton factors and cardiovascular factors. So it’s getting quite complex
@tomhfh Next, think about some logistics. What happens if you can develop this algorithm or model to somehow “handicap” a male in order to let them compete in women’s sport? I’m sure you’d agree you need to have different thresholds for elite vs sub-elite sport? So a club player would be
@tomhfh …permitted to play against women club players at a different standard than elite vs elite. Which means you’d need to re-classify people as they move through sports pathways. You’ll also create a DISINCENTIVE for a person to ever improve, because once classified by this unicorn
@tomhfh …algorithm, they can’t get faster, stronger, better, or they’d be reclassified into a new category. So that’s anti-sport - you’d literally be encouraging people to stay where they are, not improve. In the context of ‘cheating’ the system of course. And ultimately, even if this
@tomhfh …rainbow system were to work, you’d even up with a situation where a male who is at the 20th percentile within men is now racing against the very best females in the world, the top 1%, and you’d be saying “These athletes are equal”. Because Doug Leadfoot, 100m sprinter from Cape
@tomhfh …Town, who is a bit smaller, slower and weaker than his male counterparts, is now being to be classified as similar to Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce or Dina Asher-Smith, because of “mass and hormones”, and they’ll race each other in a sideshow of a race that relegates women. Great
@tomhfh …concept. Maybe that’s the D-race in the Olympics. Followed by the E, F and G races, until we get to the one with 42kg weight limits, where it’s only women left. But loads of mediocre men doing their thing against exceptional women. So…am I still confused?

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More from @Scienceofsport

Jul 29
This thread typifies two broad approaches to this issue. On one side are people whose paradigm is "There's no evidence (according to them), so there's no reason to prevent males from entering women's rugby". On the other is a group who say "Male physiology is very different from
...female physiology because of androgens and male development, so we need to prevent males in women's rugby until the evidence strongly suggests it is fair and safe". The latter group is not without evidence, mind. We know the initial typical M vs F differences, and we know the
...degree to which biological attributes ranging from skeleton to muscle mass/volume & muscle strength change. So we do have evidence of retention of male biology and thus advantage and safety risk (contrary to what that thread suggests). But the former argument - allow it until
Read 13 tweets
Jul 15
Another example is cars vs motorbikes, which is more dangerous? If you only count road accidents/deaths, you'd conclude that cars are more dangerous. And you'd be wrong, because you've failed to account for 'exposure'. Now let's think rugby....
If you watch rugby, you will see many more head-hip proximity tackles than you see head-head proximity tackles. Hips are "selfies or cars", & heads are "sharks or motorbikes". We can quantify this, and it's 2.6 head-hip tackles (18%) for every 1 head-head tackle (7% of tackles).
Similarly, you'll see a lot more bent tacklers than upright tacklers. The ratio here is 2.2. 57% of tackles are by bent players compared to 26% by upright players. So it's not *that* surprising that you see bent, head-hip injuries - the event is common (like cars & selfies)
Read 8 tweets
Jul 15
Rugby and HIA risk (thread):
Ahead of a big rugby weekend, thought I'd offer a little insight into when the risk of head injuries is highest, and how World Rugby has tried to nudge behaviour towards safety (the Red and Yellow cards you see, that is). So here's a little tutorial!
First, and sorry for the wordy slide, but we need to understand how risk reduction works in the global sense. To simplify, you're either eliminating, substituting, or modifying what is risky. To do this, you have to first understand a spectrum of risk. That is, "what is risky?"
Here's another slide (fewer words) that illustrates that, shows the spectrum of risk idea, and also introduces the idea of modifying a behaviour to lower overall risk. This concept underpins what happens next, which is the data part of the process. (3/
Read 29 tweets
Jun 28
Upon further reading, the following strikes me. Based on the science (without quotation marks), in sport, where SEX DOES matter, there *IS* a choice to be made, the reality that fairness & safety for women can’t co-exist when male advantage is retained...
Is that choice easy? No. So the headline is immediately misleading. The choices create consequences. But they’re consequences in a colliding rights issue, so if you only ever consider them from one POV, you can’t do justice to the difficulty of those choices. That’s THE problem
Whether you choose inclusion of TW into W’s sport, or whether you choose like World Rugby and FINA, you create outcomes for BOTH sides of this issue. @jonathanliew’s piece argues for only one group’s claims. Women would, I suspect, have strong views of their own. But what the
Read 12 tweets
Jun 28
Jon’s thread below is good, and I agree. My first impression of this article was a bit simpler. I thought the quotation marks around “fairness” and “the science” were doing a comically large amount of work, but also quite revealing of the line of reasoning about to follow!
Then comes the second part, where I assume based on a lack of quotation marks, that we are now talking about real science. This is the sociological equivalent of “but Michael Phelps’ arms”, with a seasoning of blackmail. I’d answer the Qs at the end with: “please do & irrelevant”
What that boils down to is that we should side-step what we know are reasons for the women’s sport category, and create a kind of general ledger method of exempting people for sociological disadvantage. I would absolutely love to see the numbers run on this.
Read 4 tweets
Jun 22
Rugby’s Return to Play protocols after concussion - yesterday, @WorldRugby announced some changes to the management of players after concussion. You can read it here: world.rugby/news/726094/wo… And here’s a thread on some of the process & science behind it, which I was involved in
@WorldRugby To begin with, let’s look at what happened in the past. First, there used to be a mandatory stand-down period - a concussion meant that player couldn’t play again for an agreed, pre-determined period (it was still open for case by case exceptions, though). Then that was replaced
@WorldRugby …by a GRTP (General Return To Play) protocol, where the concussed player went through six stages, and if they were symptom free at each, they were cleared to play. Any symptom caused a delay until they repeated that stage. The result of that, based on available data, is that
Read 31 tweets

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