For years I've been challenging the exercise science community to name a single contribution coming from academia that has changed the way any athlete or coach trained for a sport.
In 2003, on this message-board, I repeated the challenge.
It turns out I'd not been paying enough attention to academic sports sciences to catch a major development.
Throughout the 1990's the American College of Sports Medicine, the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, and Gatorade published peer reviewed literature that recommended that athletes drink as much as 40 ounces of water, or better yet a sports drink, for each hour they exercised, or "consume the maximum amount that can be tolerated".
The American College of Sports Medicine and their "Platinum Sponsor," their only platinum sponsor, Gatorade, systematically debased thermoregulatory science, and subsequently hydration science, in order to promote Gatorade. The consequences of this were the deaths of at least a dozen people, and serious injury to thousands others. I believe that the Gatorade/ACSM cabal also has the distinction of having adversely affected sporting performance on a level the world has never seen before, and profit is and remains the singular motive.
The mechanism by which these deaths and injuries occur is "exercise associated hyponatremia" and "exercise associated hyponatremic encephalopathy." The cause of these deaths was pure and simple over drinking promoted by Gatorade and the ACSM.
It's time to drive Big Soda out of fitness and by extension, the health sciences.
On the upside, I missed another important contribution, this one not deadly but lifesaving. Dr. Timothy Noakes, MD, DSc has tirelessly led the battle against the Gatorade/ACSM alliance and their deadly corruption of sport and health science for nearly twenty years. Dr. Noakes' book "Waterlogged" is a brilliant and courageous accounting of this unbelievable story and a major contribution to training and sport science. I salute him.