Jerseys may have left Russia in the red

A win for Canada Wednesday night doesn’t rest entirely with the team’s talent or even skill. It may come down to the colour of its jersey, wrote The Globe and Mail Feb. 24.

Red – Russia’s jersey colour – may serve as a disadvantage when it comes to players avoiding the referee’s whistle. White – Canada’s jersey colour – could help the men’s hockey team move on and, hopefully, capture a medal, according to a new research paper.

“Tonight, our Canadians, by wearing white instead of red might mean that they might get just one less penalty, maybe, from a referee,” said Mazyar Fallah, a professor in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science in the Faculty of Health. “If that happens, then that might give them a little bit of an advantage.”

Fallah’s research on visual processing found that people’s eyes more quickly follow a red target on a computer screen than a green, yellow and, especially, blue target.

Could that explain Canada’s heartbreaking 5-3 loss on Sunday to Team USA, where they were crushed by a number of penalties? “It wasn’t Canada’s finest hour in terms of play. But if you come up with two teams that are Olympic-calibre teams and they’re exactly equal in every other way, then the team that’s wearing red jerseys is going to capture the referee’s attention more than the ones with white jerseys,” Fallah said.

So as the nation stops to watch the drama and the history unfold between hockey’s greatest archrivals, who will win? “Canada is going to win, obviously,” Fallah said. Because of the colours of the jersey? Not entirely, he remarked. “I’m just hoping like the rest of Canada that they can pull it off.”

  • Mazyar Fallah, a professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science in York’s Faculty of Health, and grad student researcher Illia Tchernikov had volunteers watch objects of different colours move across a screen, wrote the Toronto Star online Feb. 24. The faster the observer perceived the object to be moving, the more quickly their eyes followed. Overwhelmingly, their test subjects perceived objects in red to move faster.

“We tested red, yellow, green and blue,” Fallah said. “Red gives you an advantage in figure skating. Some of the scoring is based on GOE (grade of execution). So there are a number of bonus points you can get for your movement – and one of those is speed. If I’m a judge watching a figure skater move around the ice and they’re wearing bright red, my eyes follow them faster and I will subconsciously be awarding them more speed points.”

“Let’s say you’re watching a hockey game, Canada versus the US. Canada’s wearing their red jerseys and the US is wearing white and blue,” Fallah said. “You end up only looking at the reds. In fact, it’s hard for you to switch to the white and blue jerseys and referees only give out the penalties that they notice.”

Oh God, no. Sunday night. Three consecutive, game-killing Canadian penalties. This explains everything, concluded the Star.

  • Fallah also spoke about his research on CBC-TV, Discovery TV’s “Daily Planet” and CBC Radio Toronto’s “Here & Now” Feb. 24

Olympic sponsors strike gold

On Monday, the Canada-US men’s hockey game became the most watched sports program in Canadian history, drawing 10.6 million viewers, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 25. By Tuesday, some 25.2 million Canadians had tuned in to the Olympics over the course of the broadcast day. That represents three-quarters of Canada’s population. That’s good news for all Olympic advertisers, marketing experts added, even those whose commercials may irk or seem a bit bland.

“I’m assuming they’re all doing well in terms of delivering value,” said Alan Middleton, a marketing professor in the Schulich School of Business at York University. “At a minimum, it means any deals they signed aren’t going to require CTV to pay any rebates.”

Indeed, it’s likely to translate into higher revenues from future events as the broadcaster leverages this success, Middleton said. He credited the broadcast consortium with engaging so many Canadians by focusing on the athletes’ personal stories as well as their physical prowess.

Provincial media development agency doles out $2.9 million

The Ontario Media Development Corporation has dished out nearly $3 million to the province’s creative community, including the film, television and interactive sectors, as part of its Entertainment & Creative Cluster Partnership Fund, wrote Playback Feb. 22.

York University and the Canadian Film Centre, along with Cinespace Studios, collected funds for their 3-D Film Innovation Consortium – aimed at expanding the capacity for stereoscopic 3-D cinema production in Ontario.

Bata brings Tata to Toronto

The corporate king of India came to Toronto for seven hours and was fawned over by two different audiences at two locales, wrote Haroon Siddiqui in the Toronto Star Feb. 25 in a story about a speaking appearance at the Schulich School of Business at York University by Ratan Tata, head of the largest Indian conglomerate, Tata Group.

It is his and his company’s philanthropy that moved Sonja Bata to invite him to Toronto to deliver the first Thomas Bata Lecture on Responsible Capitalism. “We selected Mr. Tata,” she told me, “because he represents what my late husband stood for: looking after the employees and their communities. This is very relevant at this time because of the financial mess created by too many people getting too greedy for themselves.”

Strike at colleges ruled out

After months of worry, Ontario’s 200,000 community college students can breathe easy, knowing there will be no strike this year, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 25. On Wednesday, a final count of mail-in ballots upheld a new contract by a slim majority of full-time teachers.

There seemed little appetite for a shutdown among the rank and file, who cited York University’s 12-week strike last year and their own three-week walkout in 2006 as reasons why only 57 per cent voted in January in favour of job action.

Military told to heed abuse claims

Canadian military brass were told it was a crime to ignore allegations of prisoner abuse and that it was their duty to investigate it, according to a top secret document, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 25.

Buried in documents withheld from a special parliamentary committee by the Conservative government, the May 22, 2007 five-page memo from the Judge Advocate General (JAG), Brig.-Gen. Ken Watkin, followed on the heels of a series of media reports and diplomatic dispatches alleging serious prisoner abuse.

Craig Scott, a professor of international human rights law at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said: “If there’s this paper trail of good legal advice going against what the government is doing, it’s even more likely (the federal government violated its obligations under international law).”

Serial killers too ordinary to stand out

Serial killers are seldom obvious wrongdoers and often escape justice for extended periods, wrote James Morton, adjunct professor in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School in the Toronto Star Feb. 25. Their motivation is often obscure and while they often choose victims with common characteristics, the deduction and capture of serial killers is not simple. Even identifying a series of killings as being the work of a serial killer can take a long time and sometimes years elapse before a serial killer is caught.

Serial killing comprises less than one per cent of all murders. That said, the killers tend to be more ordinary than fiction would suggest. It is that very ordinariness that allows serial killers to hide in plain sight and evade detection and capture for so long.

York’s crooning grad just like his cars

Matt Dusk (BFA Spec. Hons. ’02) is one of Canada’s great crooners and, at 31, is a rising star on the international music scene, wrote The Globe and Mail Feb. 25. The sultry jazz singer’s voice is unique and distinct. Just like his cars. The first one he bought – and still owns – is a 1974 Bricklin SV-1.

“I’m a car nerd and I like really unique, weird things,” Dusk says. “Back in my teenage years, I wasn’t responsible for much, so I could put my hard-earned money towards crap or a piece of Canadian history, so I chose the latter.”

Of cars, he says, “It’s not about spending money. It’s about how do you accessorize? That’s what, for me, makes owning a car because I think it’s very expressive of your personality,” says Dusk, who studied under jazz-piano legend Oscar Peterson in York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts.

In 2007, his single Back In Town hit No. 1 on Japan’s pop charts – he’s the first male jazz singer to ever top the charts there.

A run to the border: Foley signs with Seahawks

Free agent defensive end Ricky Foley became the latest Lion to make a run for the border and join a National Football League team on Tuesday when he signed a contract with the Seattle Seahawks , wrote the Vancouver Sun Feb. 25 .

He’s the third Lion to leave the den this off-season. Foley’s departure may be the Lions’ most significant loss yet. The 27-year-old enjoyed a breakout season with the Lions last season. He led the Canadian Football League in sacks with 12, had 51 tackles and was named the league’s top Canadian.

The former York University Lion stepped into a starring role last season only after replacing two-time CFL most outstanding defensive player Cam Wake, who signed with the Miami Dolphins in 2009. Both Foley and Wake are represented by player agent Paul Sheehy.