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Professor: Studying Sports as Academic Subject ‘Makes Sense’

14 Jun, 2017

By: Michael Popke

Philosophy of Sport. Introduction to the Sports Industry. Sports, Media, and Society. Women and Sports. Sports, Ethics, and Literature. The Historical, Cultural, and Social Dynamics of Sports.

Those are some of the classes now offered to Penn State University students pursuing careers in which sports “intersect[s] with business, history, law, philosophy, literature, journalism and more,” according to a recent article on Philly.com.

“It makes sense to use sports [as a teaching tool], because our students are really interested in sports. You immediately have their attention.” John Affleck, a veteran journalist who oversees Penn State’s Curley Center for Sports Journalism, told writer Frank Fitzpatrick.

Last November, Penn State announced the creation of the Center for the Study of Sports in Society. According to the university, the center supports research, teaching, public programs and services related to the study of sport and its cultural, economic and social impact. The center seeks to “bring academics and sports officials together on topics such as changes in football rules and protocols to improve safety, the use and misuse of data, and the gap between data analysts and those without math backgrounds.”

The center joined several other PSU entities that study various aspects of sports, including the Curley Center and the Penn State Institute for Sports, Law, Policy and Research.

“Sports both reflect, and often lead, society in working out important cultural issues,” Fitzpatrick said at the time the Center for the Study of Sports in Society was announced.

Almost 500 colleges and universities offer sports management programs, according to the North American Society of Sports Management. “In the last decade, the number of academic offerings related to sports has grown rapidly,” George Cunningham, a professor at Texas A&M University and president of NASSM, told Philly.com. “Sports continue to occupy a prominent place in our society.”

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