If the closest thing you get to athleticism is Athlete's Foot, then you are probably no closer to understanding how the Mac has become the no.1 contender in the high pressure world of sport and computers.

The idea of taking an active part in competitive sport might not compute for the average mouse jockey but that does not mean the digital age has ignored the sweatier gamer altogether.

Mac has its place in sport where every second counts and any advantage is worth chasing.

From the Premiership dug out on a wet Wednesday night to posh yacht clubs on the English Riviera, sportsmen needs Macs to give them an edge and it's in the usual areas where Mac has proven to be in a different class.

Macs in sport are used to make the things we all do simpler, but the specialities the Mac is known for lend themselves spectacularly well to the needs of the athlete and coach alike.

Communication is the most important use for computers in everyday life and this is no different in sport. Coaches and players need to keep in contact and they also need to be able to share information quickly and reliably.

No surprise in discovering it's the simplicity of the Mac which takes first place here.

Where the Mac really gets its nose in front of the pack in sport is integration. Sport requires many disciplines and being able to move information between applications is the key for improving performance through computers.

The Mac allows coaches to move information around different applications which means the same data can be displayed easily in different ways.

Specialist sports applications make use of the Apple core to make the data as versatile as the Mac itself.

The front runners in bringing sports software to the UK are iSport. They supply leading brand Sportcode Pro to some of the biggest names in the world. Premiership giants Man Utd use Sportcode Pro as well as the Royal Yacht Association and a host of other top flight football teams.

This software, which started life in Australia where they take their sport very seriously, was brought to the UK by Rugby Union. It allows coaches to analyse the performance of teams as well as individuals by breaking each passage of play down into manageable chunks. These batches of video are in turn broken down into individual moves which are translated into bits of data. The software analyses the flow of each move to find weaknesses and highlight areas for improvement.

Text markers are attached to each clip and the system can retrieve stats based on these markers. Corners, free kicks, runs, passes can all be calculated and analysed and databases are compiled automatically.

The latest update, Sportcode Elite, allows coaches to review the information live as it is collected.

It's not like playing Championship Manager or FIFA '98 on the Sega, this is professional stuff.

Emma Bullock from iSport said: "People use our software to analyse video of games using customisable buttons to build up a picture of what goes on. We have a growing number of clients who can see how this is helping to bring out their best.

"You can look at all the free kicks taken and see if there is a strategy or patterns emerging. Then you can develop a strategy to beat the other team at their own game.

"You can see live what's happening, it's not just running through a video tape. Coaches can identify key moments in games as they happen and see what it takes to help them win."

Football is the most important game in the world. World of Warcraft doesn't come anywhere near to having the kind of control over the lives of ordinarily sane people as the beautiful game.

Millions are invested by the top clubs in the hope of gaining any kind of advantage over their rivals and top of the line computer equipment is no exception. As usual, this is another area where the Mac is becoming the industry standard.

Norwich City were sold on the user friendliness of the Mac and were among the first English clubs to start using Sportcode.

Dave Carolan is in his sixth season as Sports Scientist at Norwich City FC and he uses Sportcode Pro every day to build up detailed profiles of individual players and work out how the team can perform better.

Dave has a Masters Degree in Sports Science and the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist qualification and is involved in the day-to-day and long term planning of player's conditioning levels at Pro and Academy levels.

The data he collects is also used for training youngsters in the Norwich City football academy.

"After seeing a presentation of Sportcode and I saw how much of a step forward OS X was with the integration of the video through Quicktime it was a pretty simple decision. After looking at the price, it made sense for us to change over to a better product."

Norwich City's Carrow Road ground is now completely wifi and kitted out with as much gear as Dave can get his hands on.

He started with a PowerBook from sponsors John Lewis and now has a G5 PowerMac with extra RAM and a 23" studio display.

A dual disc 500Gb drive from Miglea stores data from the entire season.
"With the Firewire 800 it's fantastically fast.

"When I was using a Sony laptop before everything just took hours, switching to the PowerBook saved me so much time.

"Having wifi means I can access the data I need from anywhere in the club, even on a Windows server."

Dave uses Sportcode to capture video from every game but it was the simplicity of being able to move the clips around and manipulate them which really made the difference.

"I use it to capture live data. One 90 minute game takes about 20Gb of memory and it needs to be kept at digital video quality.

"The videos are analysed and I also cut them into motivational films for the manager to use with the players. The team have probably seen about 45 films over the last few seasons highlighting what the manager things is good play.

"With all the data preserved at such high quality, I can pretty much have a piece done, topped and tailed inside an hour. Using Quicktime means we can also run all the graphics through Motion and use Final Cut Pro to give it a really professional look.

"It's been so successful, I'm still using the same PowerBook we started with."
Dave even uses his set up to make short films for the end of season awards ceremony at the club.

"We used to ask the BBC or ITV for cuts, now I am able to do it myself.
"We might not live in the limelight like the bigger clubs, but it's still a very pressurised environment. Especially given the season we've had."

The latest addition to the set up at Norwich has been even more storage space and the Macworld award winning Directors Cut SCART from Miglia.

Netball, Badminton, Hockey and the Army also use Sportcode to find faults and suggestion for better performance.

In the USA, Mac is also big in sport.
World Wrestling Entertainment might not be sport in the strictest sense, but they do use Mac to make their product look as slick as it does.

The creative team at WWE use Motion and Shake to add effects to their coverage. A team of Mac operators use Final Cut Pro to make the whole panto look great.

Dave Carolan believes his Mac is like an extra man for Norwich City, but there were a few blank looks when the PowerBook first came on as a trialist.

"When I started nobody was using Macs, now we've become quite a Mac enclave.
"A football club is not necessarily a computer-friendly environment and the players and coaching staff are not always the most computer literate.

"Since I started with my PowerBook and they've all seen how easy they are to use, most of the players and coaching staff have started using Macs.

"There are iPods everywhere, of course, but when they cross back over to Windows they can't get their heads round it because they're not user friendly.

"I think we're seeing a change now. Players who might have left school early or have never worked with computers before are switching to Mac and that's a pretty good endorsement."

Sadly for Norwich, the computers may be very clever but the players are only human.
Delia's team lost out on staying in the Premiership on the last day of the season. Heartbreaking for the chairwoman, manager, players, fans and backroom staff but they will be back in the Championship title race next year still running on Macs.