Tannenbaum donates $ 20 million to launch a new institute for sports science

Larry Tannenbaum, Chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. On Tuesday, the University of Toronto and the Sinai Health Network will unveil the Tanenbaum Institute for Sports Science, a global center of excellence in sports science and sports medicine, launched with a $ 20 million gift from Larry and Judy Tanenbaum Family Foundation.Jonathan Belaski / MLSE

If Larry Tannenbaum has his way, the new Institute of Sports Science at the University of Toronto, named after him, will produce world-class research that could improve the performance of professional and amateur athletes and stimulate scientific discovery in health and well-being for all. . But perhaps most importantly for fans of his professional teams, which include the Toronto Maple Leafs, he is convinced that the institute’s work could even offer an advantage that could lead to the Stanley Cup.

“There’s not even a question about that,” Tannenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE), said in an interview with The Globe and Mail on Monday. “This will help us win championships.

On Tuesday, the University of Toronto and the Sinai Health Network will unveil the Tanenbaum Institute for Sports Science, a global center of excellence in sports science and sports medicine, launched with a $ 20 million gift from Larry and Judy Tanenbaum Family Foundation. U of T and Sinai Health will contribute an additional $ 21.5 million.

The funds will provide a number of positions in rapidly evolving fields, including the Department of Musculoskeletal Regenerative Medicine, the Department of Sports Science and Data Modeling, and the Professor of Orthopedic Sports Medicine. It will also support a research acceleration fund focused on discoveries in a range of disciplines, from concussions to biomechanics, wearables, nutrition, parasport, orthopedics and regenerative medicine.

Tannenbaum said that as the owner of professional sports teams for more than two decades, he has considered the training and injuries of athletes. “Are we best prepared, from a physical point of view, from a training point of view, to win championships?” He added that “championships in some cases rise and fall depending on whether one or two or three key players are injured. So, if we can speed up the recovery by a week, by a month – if we can halve the injury time, it will bring the player back. “

Ira Jacobs, the institute’s interim director, who retired last fall as dean of the U-T’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, said it was a challenge to fund research in sports medicine in Canada. “Going through a funding agency and saying you’re going to focus only on high-performing athletes is not a good recipe for success.”

“It gives us the resources to recruit and hire great people,” said Jacobs, who noted that there is funding for postdoctoral fellows, scholarships and interns in this field. “It’s a dream,” he said. “We have really high expectations of what this will do.”

He noted that the institute will be able to use big data, including approximately 1,000 athletes who consist of U’s T-university teams, as well as patients in Sinai’s health system, which includes two hospitals and a research center.

Alex McKehney, vice president of health and performance for Toronto Raptors, who contributed to the development of the institute on behalf of Tanenbaum, said that as an example, the youth football program run by FC Toronto could capture large amounts of health data for athletes while evolving. “You can follow these children through growth states, growth spurts, all these different areas that are quite interesting: how certain levels of learning can affect the joints, for example.

He also noted that the research that is emerging could help teams like the Raptors increase their prospects.

“When we choose a player, we certainly do our due diligence,” he said. If the Raptors consider signing with an injured player, the team could benefit from extensive information gathered by the university about such injuries to be able to offer predictions and treatments that have worked for players with similar body types. .

Kia Nurse, a Canadian-born basketball star who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, said wearable technology is helping her recover from a torn ACL she received last October during a playoff game.

“I wear ankle bracelets every time I go to workout,” she said. “It tells me how much force I’m applying through both my legs, so you can tell if I’m bending over my ACL leg and putting a little too much pressure on my other leg. I can tell if I’m running equally on both feet. “

She also noted that the work of the institute will benefit various populations, including a couple of athletes.

Kia Nurse, left, a Canadian-born basketball star who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, noted that wearable technology is helping her recover from a torn ACL he received last October during a playoff game.Rick Scooters / Associated Press

And Tannenbaum noted that the knowledge that emerges will not be applicable only to professionals. “The information that will come out of this institute will be useful to all athletes everywhere.”

In the foreseeable future, the institute will exist in a purely virtual form. No grand building named Tanenbaum is planned. “That’s not why I’m doing this,” Tannenbaum said. “All the money is really targeted. He is building this program, which I really believe will be a world-renowned institute in a short period of time.

Although the institute is not a for-profit enterprise, it can develop intellectual property that can be commercialized and sold to professional sports teams. However, when asked by a reporter how the institute could offer an advantage to MLSE teams if its research is intended to be shared with the world sports community, Tannenbaum joked: “Maybe I won’t let him go for a year so we can get Leafs, Raptors and TFC get the upper hand. “

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