A phrase synonymous with higher education is the term “lifelong learner.”

That phrase is not only a characteristic desired by educators of its students but also an expectation set for educators. I have learned that a terminal degree does not equate to the end of learning but rather an expectation to continue a pursuit of knowledge. As a new year begins, I strive to live that principle out. 

In seeking to understand more about the sociological aspect of sport, I recently viewed a presentation video by John Amaechi that has stuck with me. I know the reason it has is because it has challenged my perspective on the meaning of sport. His presentation provided me with a fresh perspective on what sport teaches.

In summary, I wanted to share three things that I learned from John that I hope will challenge you to relook at the meaning and purpose for sport.

UMHB Women's Basketball

The true stakeholders in sport are its participants, the athletes. 

In essence, sports are games which were created for participants to play.  Without the participants, there was no game to play. 

Somewhere between playing a game and participating in competitive sport, we lost focus of who is most important. This loss of perspective has impacted what we see in sport, a focus on everything else other than taking care of the participant. 

This aspect can be witnessed when we observe youth sport and the normalcy of prioritizing wins over the investment of developing the player. Those involved in sport must remember who we are here for.   

Sport’s duty of care is in developing an athlete’s true identity. 

Duty of care is the responsibility to protect the well-being of its constituents. Protecting the well-being of those involved in sport comes in developing an athlete’s identity beyond the court, field, pitch, etc. Duty of care is developing the athlete so that they see themselves as more than just what they play. 

In John’s presentation he brings out the point that if we continue to socialize athletes into thinking they are what they do when they transition out of sport, whenever that time comes, they have not only left behind what they do but also who they are. Athletes are more than just the team they represent and the game they play. Sport must encourage the development of the whole person, both on and off the court. 

Awareness of the promises of sport. 

Read the mission statement of any sport organizations. Pay attention to the words you read. Listen to coaches when they talk about their program. What is heard and the message that comes out are the promises sport makes in exchange for participation. 

John helped me realize that the promises that sport makes are very lofty and often times unattained. He brings out the point that being principled is more important than being loyal. If we say sport participation will develop a certain desired trait, we must make sure that all that we do and the decision that we make help in developing what we said.    

UMHB Baseball team

In the end, being a lifelong learner is not achieved just by the consumption of information. The power in knowledge comes from the action associated with it. The process of learning is incomplete without the doing. 

Be doers of the word and not hearers only deceiving ourselves.

James 1:22, NIV

Acting on the information and knowledge that has been gained pushes me closer to the expectation set by the phrase “lifelong learner.” May we all learn to strive to do what we can to make sport live up to its promises.

UMHB’s School of Exercise and Sport Science provides distinctive academic programs which prepare undergraduate and graduate students to engage in healthy behaviors and active lifestyles and pursue exciting careers in the dynamic sport and fitness industry. For more information, we invite you to visit our website, or stop by for a visit!