Sunday, 23 November 2008

Rename sports science to Human Performance for a wider audience

I love sports science and physical education. I have a degree and A level in it and enjoyed every minute. I wish though that the discipline would receive more respect than it currently does. In societies focus on material wealth the title of sports or physical makes people think that all you do is run around all day and blow a whistle to stop play.

This is a massive understatement. In my view the things you learn and the experience you gain through a sports or physical education course can help you in all aspects of your life. In truth I feel the title and in effect the branding of these courses should change to reflect the real focus they have. Renaming them would make it much clearer what thy have to offer and why they are so important.

So what would I rename them to? The courses the I have taken, in essence, were all about maximising human performance. The sports science aspects are about the study of human performance and excellence and what factors help us achieve our limits and how to extend these limits. The physical education aspects are about how to teach others to achieve their dreams, i essence it's about how to teach others the skills to achieve excellence in their chosen discipline.

It's all about covering all aspects of the study of a human, from how they think, work, operate in groups to the physics of movement, how to operate in exxtreme conditions, how to deal with stress and anxiety, how to perform under pressure and how to learn things really quickly. Notice how I haven't mentioned sport once. That's because after my degree I went into the corporate world yet I've used my sports science and PE degree almost every day. I don't really tell anyone I have one because it isn't a respected disciple because it has sports in the title. However all the topics and scenarios e covered during my degree and a levels have prepared me better for the roles I have undertaken than the degrees that some of my friends have taken.

That's not to say other degrees aren't useful or worth doing but I do find they are very specific in their purpose and the application of what you learn is very specific to the discipline you study. That's mainly because a lot of degree cover just one , perhaps two disciplines. Accounting and Psychology are two examples.

The sports science and physical education course have to cover social, psychological, biological, chemical, physical, historical disciplines among other things. It's precisely because they cover such a broad spectrum that their lessons are so relevant in most any role you take, not just at work but in life in general.

I accounting you learn abut numbers and money. You'll learn other things but your main focus is ho to maximise money for yourself or others. That's very useful but it doesn't teach you much else about the world. You learn little if anything about interacting with others, how t motivate them, how to teach them what you know. you also learn little about yourself, you don't learn how to learn new things for yourself or get the best out of what you know. You just learn t make money for yourself and other people.

In psychology you learn different things but it's still very limited.You learn how a humans mind works. You can apply this knowledge to yourself or to others. So it has applications in work but also outside in your personal life. You learn a little about how humans interact and a little about how they work underneath but in reality most of your focus is on how the brain acts, not so much the underlying physics, chemistry and biology that goes behind creating the the actions and thought in the first place. At least that was my experience during the A level I took in psychology and that's what both my sister and wife found in their degrees. They loved what they learnt and really enjoyed the course but I still prefer the degree I took because I feel it has much more practical value because I've covered much of what they have, in much less detail of course, and so much more.

Ok so what exactly did I cover and why is it so damn useful then?
Well, I'd better give you the title of the course. 'Physical Education, Sports Science and Recreation Management' . So not only did I cover a lot of human performance I also covered management of business as well. I loved this aspect of the course because the concept of managing, particularly managing humans, is in essence about putting everything you learn about maximising human performance into practice.

Here's a list of modules the course included and how it's been useful to me
Sports Psychology
Sports Sociology
History of Sports
Anatomy and Physiology
Physiology of maximum intensity exercise
Sports Nutrition
Exercise and Health
Research Methods and statistics

Fundamentals of strategic management
Marketing
Financial Management
Human resource management
Accounting and Finance
The law
Policy Making

OK, I haven't got round to explaining why each module has been so useful because I need to pop out. Hopefully I'll finish this later. What you should see is that I got a taster for so many areas that are disciplines in themselves. Because I was given a basic knowledge of each area I've been able to build on this throughout my career. Without this basic knowledge I may not even have started learning much about it as a discipline at all.

I've simply found that no matter what I do, even writing this article, there are lessons and theory I can draw from that I learnt during my degree or the A level ad related courses prior to or after it that ere all related to the same theme.

Ok, maybe times and attitudes are a changing regards sports science but then I completed my degree in 1999 when there weren't many sports science courses around. Now there are hundreds and the whole area does seem to have risen from the depths. I still feel that everything we learn and everything it teaches is applicable in more than just the sports arena and it's true value is hidden by this specific title.
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