Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins recently made an interesting proposal that might help clean up some of the corruption in college sports: Make athletic departments legitimate academic branches and let athletes major in sports just like music, dance, art and film majors do. See Washington Post, “NCAA Colleges Should Consider Offering Sports as an Academic Major”.
“If we would quit being half-ashamed of college sports and assign them some real value, we might just cure some of their corruptions,” writes Jenkins. She proposes giving athletes credit for their long hours of training and practice as part of a rigorous Performance of Sport major, which would include courses such as sports law, ethics in sport, history of sport, sports and public policy, and economics of sport.
There currently are sports majors available at our colleges and universities. Most of them are sports management majors that focus on the business of sports. Some schools offer a sports studies major that would include most of the courses Jenkins proposes. However, Jenkins’ unique angle is offering a performance of sport major that would include credit for varsity sports participation in much the same way that Harvard music majors can receive academic credit for concert performances. Consider it credit for lab work. Mastering a sport at the college level is hard work and a legitimate intellectual challenge, contends Jenkins.
“Think about it. Why is an Alabama football player or Tennessee women’s basketball player less worthy than a Yale drama student?” asks Jenkins. Yale Theater Studies program director, Toni Dorfman, likes Jenkins’ proposal.
“What a wonderful idea,” said Dorfman. “The theory and practice of sport are certainly as ancient as those of theater.”
The Harvard music department’s website description says, “The Harvard University Department of Music is devoted to the study and practice of music, and exists to provide a first-rate music education that gives students advanced skills and knowledge of music history, repertory, and performance.”
Substitute “athletics” or “sports” for the word “music” in that sentence and you’d have a pretty good description of an academic department of athletics.
To be sure, the sports performance major would have to have a legitimate curriculum approved by the faculty senate, and the academic department of athletics would need to be answerable to an academic dean, like any other discipline. We’re not talking about a phony degree here.
Jenkins’ column is worth the read, as is the accompanying Q&A related to the column. See Washington Post, “Conversations/ Live Q&A”.
It’s worth an open-mind evaluation.
–- Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan in the year 2022.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon