I’ve had a hard time hearing my beloved sports broadcasts abovethe din of cries for new programs ringing out from every corner ofPSU.
“We need a disability studies program!”
“We want an Italian studies program!”
“The time has come for a Native American studies program!”
And so on and so on…
Never being one to miss out on a good bandwagon, I quicklysurmised that what we really need is a sports studies program.
What I’m envisioning is not the typical PE-teacher-in-trainingprogram offered by many universities (the closest PSU comes is ahealth sciences degree from the College of Urban and PublicAffairs), but a wide-ranging liberal arts-based curriculumencompassing the history, literature, science and business aspectsof the sporting world.
While likely not substantial enough for a major of its own, theintricacies and corpus of sport are without doubt substantialenough to support a minor of 10-15 offerings scattered throughoutrelevant departments.
For example, a student in the program could take two sportsliterature classes (hopefully including Deeanne Westbrook’swonderful “Baseball & Myth”), a sports history class offeredthrough the history department, two sports marketing classesthrough the school of business, a sports psychology class throughthe psychology department, a sports film class and a kinestheticsclass or community health offering. Then to bring it all together,the student would write a thesis or participate in some sort ofcapstone applying the various skills learned.
Laugh all you will, but sport is a big part of society thatinterests a lot of people and creates many jobs – often high payingones at the upper levels. Someone with a minor in a sports studiesprogram like the one I just described would have a leg up in avariety of sport-related fields including journalism, management,marketing, sports science and psychology.
Simultaneously, offering such a program wouldn’t require anincredible amount of new university allocations. Of the class ideasabove, only the sports history class seems a stretch from thecurrent course catalog offerings. The rest make sense as offeringson their own, regardless of whether PSU has a sports studiesprogram.
Aside from the lack of resources needed to make a sports studiesprogram a reality, having such a unique program would be apublicity boon for PSU. The U of O business school receivesnational attention for its business-limited Warsaw Sports MarketingCenter. We’d easily outshine them.
Hordes of Northwest students who are interested in a career insports or just plain love sports but otherwise might not haveconsidered PSU would flock to the Park Blocks. Four years laterthey would leave with the tools to succeed in the sports world andstave off, chronicle and interpret catastrophes like the PGE Parkdebacle and the Jailblazers saga.
Without doubt, legions of pretentious academics would bemoan thepopularization of academia while others whine about themisallocation of university resources or the tailoring of a programto sports-addicted couch potatoes and armchair quarterbacks.
We cannot be deterred by their lack of vision. The time has cometo recognize the legitimacy of sport and to tackle it head-on. Thisis a chance PSU should not pass up.