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 Who are we?

Some data about ourselves

by Fabrizio Sors - Research Department

If you think that here you’ll find an answer to the philosophical question about our nature, you’re wrong, I’m sorry! Well, actually I’m not, since the purpose of the title – as it often happens – was to capture your attention with a partially misleading focus. This piece has the less ambitious (yet I hope still interesting) goal to ‘take a picture’ of ENYSSP members, so the complete question is “who are we, the ENYSSPers?”.

Do you remember the membership form you filled in? Its purpose is primarily bureaucratic, yet since I first filled it in myself back in 2012 I always thought that it would have been interesting to have a look at the collected data. Now that I’m part of the MC I finally have access to the database – yes, I know where you all live, you better be careful – so I calculated the descriptive statistics you can find below (data are updated to August 6th, 2020, I went on vacation afterwards).


We are expanding. Logically, the first question that arises is “how many are we?”. The number alone, 193, may make little sense: we can’t say we are a lot or a few in absolute terms. Thus, what I did was to look back, and the result is reported in figure 1: we are now three times more numerous than when ENYSSP was born, also thanks to a significant ‘growth spurt’ last year. The expansion continued also this year notwithstanding the cancellation of the conference in Ghent and, in any case, also after the decision was made; the explanation lies in the increased online activity, with webinars and peer consultation sessions having a great success. In the membership form there is a question asking whether you have already been a member in the past: in the last three years, this datum stabilized itself around 50%, which means we have a good balance between a ‘strong core’ and new members.

Together with the association itself, also the annual conference is expanding. As you know, to attend the conference one does not necessarily need to be a member, yet as you can see in figure 1 there is a sort of correlation between the number of members and that of conference participants. Thus, the abovementioned growth spurt was mainly due to the ‘boom’ in attendance in Trieste – let me guess, cool organizers? – which led to parallel sessions with 4 rather than 3 workshops. The estimate for Ghent is pretty precise as it was cancelled only one month before its start; despite the slight expected reduction in attendance, there would have been one more workshops session (always with 4 choices), as well as more oral presentations and posters! Thus, hoping that next year we can meet in Odense, we as MC are considering to keep the maximum capacity around last years’ numbers (if the health protocols will allow us to).


Figure 1. Number of members and conference participants.


We are gender-balanced. Gender balance is an important issue in many fields, with science among the most relevant, and sometimes critical, ones. We can proudly say that we are pursuing this principle at every possible level, succeeding in almost all of them. As concerns members (fig. 2a), data say 53.4% females and 46.6% males; the figure is roughly the same also among the Country Reps. As concerns the 5 MCs (fig. 2b) – thus including also the current one – there have been a total of 28 females and 26 males (they are not all different persons as someone served two terms, and Caroline Jannes and Fredrik Weibull served three). The only flaw until now is represented by the distribution of presidents, with 4 males – Xavier Sanchez, Fredrik, Peter Schneider and Grzegorz Więcław – and only Caroline as a female, so in 2023 it is clearly time for another female president. In this regard, in the current MC we have four girls who, upon election, said they are tough enough to handle the six guys completing the MC itself, so I see no problem at all for any of them to become the next president! Finally, we pursue gender balance also with keynote speakers: in Ghent there would have been two female and two male ones.


Figure 2. Gender distribution: a) members 2020; b) MC members.

We are young…in many ways. ENYSSP was born not only for people young in age, but also for those who are early in their career: the two things often coincide, yet it is not necessarily always the case. Looking at members' profiles these days (both in terms of age and experience) it seems we have gone beyond the original ideas and no one ever gets excluded…on the condition that they are young at least in spirit! Talking about harsh data, in the last five years the mean age ranged from 29.2±4.2 in 2016 to 31.4±6.4 in 2018; in 2020 it is 30.7±5.4, with the distribution depicted in figure
3. It is reasonable to hypothesize that the mean age at conferences is slightly lower: on the one hand, a slice of the above mentioned strong core does not attend; on the other hand, there are regularly some young first-timers who attend without being members (yet!).


Figure 3. Age distribution.

We are European, and beyond. “Where do we come from?” could be another philosophical question, but again I’ll answer on a very pragmatic level: we come from 41 different countries; 31 of them – more than the EU! – are European, and the remaining 10 are of course extra-European (North and South American as well as Asian). Figure 4 depicts the trends of the countries that, in the last five years, have altogether been the most represented ones (in some of these years, other countries were in the fourth or even third position); one thing is immediately clear: since 2018, Dutch and Italians don’t get along well! Joke aside, the aim of the graph is to highlight that the composition is highly variable; in addition to ‘natural’ variability, this is due on the one hand to the conference location (2016 Warsaw, 2019 Trieste, 2020 supposed in Ghent), and on the other hand to spontaneous group initiatives (e.g., Dutch in 2018 and Germans in 2019). I know you’re curious about this year ranking, so here it is: 1) The Netherlands, 15%; 2) Germany, 10.9%; 3) Italy, 7.3%; 4) Poland, 6.7%; 5) Belgium, 6.2%; 6) Romania, 5.2%; 7) United Kingdom, 4.7%; 8) Greece, 3.6%; 9) Hungary & Spain, 3.1%; other countries accounts for less than 3% each.


Figure 4. Trends of the most represented countries in the last five years.

We are a (social) network. In the membership form there is a question asking how you learnt about ENYSSP: answers are reported in figure 5. For their interpretation, a premise is needed: options are not mutually exclusive – not my fault – as the way to learn about the conference is necessarily via one of the other options, but they do not necessarily imply learning about the conference itself (e.g., those who answered “colleague” could have learnt either about the conference or a webinar); thus, it is reasonable to hypothesize that in each of the other options there is a variable quota of conference-related answers, but for those respondents the source was more salient than the content. Bearing this in mind, almost a quarter of members learnt about ENYSSP while studying (I assume thanks to keynote speakers and older members already teaching), more than a fifth on the Internet (mainly via facebook and the website), then comes the conference, then colleagues/friends, and finally the country reps (something to work on for the new coordinator, Cedric Arijs); the grey slice includes both those who didn’t answer and those who explicitly said they don’t remember, the latter being mostly long-term members. After getting to know someone, it is fundamental to stay in touch with her/him, and nowadays this is mainly done by means of social networks; in this regard, here are the numbers of our channels: on facebook, the page (Enyssp) has almost 800 followers and the group (ENYSSP: Open Forum) more than 900 members, then there are some national pages (e.g., Enyssp Italia has almost 300 followers); finally, the twitter account (@ENYSSP) has more than 800 followers.


Figure 5. Distribution of answers to the question “How did you learn about ENYSSP?”

We are…missing some relevant information. With the data at my disposal, I could only deal with the first half of the ENYSSP acronym, that is, European, Network, and Young (plus the two points concerning numerosity and gender balance). Thus, next year I would like to add to the membership form a couple of questions to be able to deal also with the second half of the acronym, that is, Specialists, and Sport Psychology (but potentially also Sport alone). I think it is important to know something more about ourselves, so I hope you won’t mind spending one minute more to fill the form, as well as I hope you will do it as completely and accurately as possible; if not, remember that, as I said above, I know where you live!

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