It was most amusing to see full on research lectures with screens of data as you would expect at a science conference, interspersed with audience participation sessions of the latest in step aerobics! 150 people jumping up and down in their civvies to banging techno in a conference room at 2pm is and strange sight. My talk was last and ended up being about E9 for fear factor as the tech guy messed up and crashed the AV system, so my nice slides of climbing and clips from E11 disappeared and I had to ad-lib my lecture with no slides. Scary. Everyone still clapped at the end, so I guess I got through it. But it’s not something I want to repeat in a hurry. As I was saying to the audience about risk sports – bold climbers don’t like surprises and like to know in great detail the tasks they face in advance.
The main part of my talk was to try and relate why I turned from an inactive kid who despised school sports to a pro athlete. I told them that I was fairly low confidence as a kid because I’m not a very outgoing and extrovert person, so the competitive and win/lose situations of sport (amplified by the cut throat world of pecking orders among kids) was always a negative experience for me. I felt that a lot of other kids also weren’t ready for this sink or swim world and therefore turned away from sport. When I discovered climbing, it washed all that away because it could be whatever I wanted it to be – individual, team, competitive or not, explorative or light-hearted. So I could move from a gentle break in to maximum commitment as and when I was ready. I told them that I climbed a world class route on the same crag I started climbing on as a timid kid – how cool is that – normally elite level sport takes you far away from the experience of the first steps, not necessarily so in climbing. I also told them I thought they should borrow some ideas from the world of business and internet to help appeal to a broader range of youngsters. Web 2.0 is a remarkable real time worldwide study in behavioural techniques and engaging user attention and motivation. I am certain there is stuff to be learned from that. I also think sport/health promoters need to look at the Long Tail idea that is buzzing in the business world and recognize the power of it’s ideas in reaching diverse groups with their own codes and vales such as teenagers.
I’ve posted up a review of the conference over on my Online Climbing Coach blog, along with my first ever videocast! My videocast is a wee tutorial about the most effective treatment available for finger injuries.