The great sporting festival that is the Olympics has ended. For me, that means that life has finally calmed down and returned to normal. I teach sports-related classes at the Faculty of Commerce. In this article, I would like to discuss sports science education while introducing examples of sports science as a course in human studies (lectures), specialized exercises, and a course in Health Sports (practical exercises) Tennis.
1) Classes in sports science
Sports science is a lecture course. I teach three classes: Modern Sports Theory, Sports Business and Professional Sports Management.
Modern Sports Theory considers the question of “What are sports?” by analyzing the birth of modern sports. In England after the industrial revolution (19th century), gentlemen from the landowning class started industry and accumulated wealth. This new class of bourgeois organized sports which they played in their own social circles. They established rules and created a form in which sports could be enjoyed among friends. Sports were created based on the principles of freedom, equality and fair play. However, the upper class also emphasized the spirit of amateurism in order to exclude lower classes such as ordinary laborers and farmers. Through amateurism, the upper class excluded people (laborers) who sought money, position or honor from sporting events. Eventually, these sports spread across the world as the Olympics.
For a long time, the Olympics were required to be an amateur sporting event. Japanese sports also worked under this philosophy. As a result, it was taboo to raise the issue of money when holding sporting events. This attitude was reflected in the common opinion that it is disagreeable to treat sports as a business.
Many years have passed since the birth of modern sports and sports have witnessed great changes. From large-scale events such as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics to smaller regional events, it costs money to hold sporting events.
In today’s sports, it is necessary to consider the relationship between sports and money from an economic and managerial point of view. Therefore, the classes Sports Business and Professional Sports Management were established in the Faculty of Commerce. The classes feature guest speakers which include experts in sport business/management and faculty who teach management studies. Through lively discussions, the classes increase students’ interest towards sports business and sports management.
・Olympic athlete enrolled in class
One of the students in my Sports Business class asked me the following questions: “I can’t take examinations or makeup examinations because I am going to the London Olympics. What should I do?” So, at the end of class, I asked any students participating in the London Olympics to come to the front of the classroom. Tetsuya Tateno, a member of the track and field team, came running down from the back of the large auditorium in Building No. 8. I handed him the microphone so that he could address the class. “My name is Tetsuya Tateno and I compete in the 400 meter hurdles for the Chuo University Track and Field Team,” he said in a loud, clear voice. “I am going to compete in the London Olympics. Some people say that my hurdles time isn’t so bad. I will try my hardest in London!” The classroom was filled with applause meant to encourage Tetsuya.
A total of 5 current student athletes and alumni athletes from Chuo University were selected to participate in the London Olympics. As a result, Chuo University was extremely passionate about cheering for the Olympics. Sports have the power to capture the interest of such large numbers of people. A feeling of pride in Tetsuya was shared by everyone who saw the confident sparkle in his eyes. Before Tetsuya left for London, he submitted a report in the mailbox of teachers’ office.
Student athletes possess an attitude of devoting themselves to a sport during their time at university, while also maintaining diligence towards their studies, which is their true purpose at university. From this attitude, I felt the splendor and vitality of youth.
2) Specialized exercises (seminar): Sports Industry Theory
In my seminar, there are 3rd year students (12 students) and 4th year students (12 students) who are very interested in sports. In the seminar, student conduct sports research. It is not enough to simply enjoy sports; students must consider sports from a variety of perspectives. Furthermore, it is impossible to understand the true essence of sports through deskwork only. As an extracurricular survey, students visited Sony’s Brand Promotion Office (Hideyuki Hata), which acquired the right as an official sponsor of FIFA (two terms at 34 billion yen). Also, students broaden their views by listening to lectures given by sports coaches and managers. For example, a guest lecture was given by Kiyoshi Okuma (a Chuo University graduate), who served as an assistant coach for the Japanese national soccer team coached by Ivica Osim.
Students also interact with seminar students from other universities, thus enabling mutual study. In December, a joint overnight workshop where students gave research presentations was held with schools such as Ritsumeikan University, Hitotsubashi University and Fukushima University.
Ultimately, students write a research thesis for their graduate research. The theses are evaluated by older students and external experts at the meeting for presentation of the graduate theses. For seminar students, this process is a compilation of their university studies. In order to write a logical thesis, students expend a great amount of time and energy for tasks such as settings themes, gathering material and conducting surveys. Some students come close to giving up. However, students acquire great confidence from the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction derived from overcoming such difficulties to write their thesis.
The joint overnight workshop and the meeting for presentation of the graduate theses provide students with great impact and a milestone in their lives.
3) Health Sports (practical exercise) Class: Half-Term Regular Classes + Intensive Course in Tennis
In this course, students learn basic tennis techniques on campus during the spring term. Then, comprehensive learning is conducted through games and other activities during a 4-day, 5-night overnight camp in the summer term. This year, the camp was held in the Kobuchisawa Town, Hokuto City, Yamanashi Prefecture. Tennis courts and pastures are spread in front of the camp lodgings and the night sky is filled with stars. The guest house serves natural cuisine. Students who usually only eat 1 meal a day have 3 such natural meals every day. At the end of camp, students express how they feel refreshed, almost as if their body has been purified from the inside. Since students are used to getting food from convenience stores at any hour of the night, they tend to have poor lifestyle rhythms. For such students, overnight camp is a great opportunity to return to a proper lifestyle rhythm.
・Health comes from enjoyment
Some students who dislike sports take my class. In reality, there is no problem with the motor skills or athletic ability of such students. Instead, they haven’t been taught how to play sports properly or they weren’t given the opportunity to engage in athletics. Their parents or grandparents worried about their safety and forbade them from participating in any activity which may result in injury. They have never tried a new movement (type of playing) with their friends, so they don’t know how to play. Because they grew up in such an environment, students who say that they dislike sports have never experienced the enjoyment of sports. In this class, students study tennis techniques together so that they become able to play matches. Instead of initially focusing on form, the class lets students experience the fun of returning a ball hit by the opponent. Once students experience this fun, they become passionate about tennis. They get pleasant exercise and feel refreshed. Instead of playing sports in order to become healthy or stronger, it is better to natural acquire a strong and healthy body by pursuing the fun of sports or the fun of active culture.
・Acquiring confidence by improving together with friends
Students who view themselves as poor athletes must acquire confidence. First, let’s consider the techniques of the sport that students will learn. Movement in tennis is based on three basic points: 1) the relationship between the angle of the racquet face and the swing, as well as the point of contact with the ball, 2) efficient movement using the entire body, and 3) rhythm. The ability to foresee what is required next in order to acquire proper technique is a shortcut to improvement.
Students from athletic teams (Physical Education League Sports Clubs; hereinafter referred to as “Physical Education League”) also participated in the recent tennis camp. (4th and 2nd year students from the Fencing Club, a 4th year student from the Kempo Karate Club, and a 4th year student from the Soft Tennis Club.) These athletes tended to be absent from first-term classes due to league games and inter-collegiate tournaments. Therefore, with the exception of the athlete from the Soft Tennis Club, almost all of the athletes were beginners at hard tennis. However, these already know the correct path to improving in sports. They are also veterans at cheering on their friends and raising the intensity of practice. I was surprised to see them running to gather balls during practice. It seems that their experience in rising to the top of a certain sport gives them a comprehensive view of new sports as well. In addition, 1st year students who are members of the intramural tennis team participated in the tennis camp. I also asked the coach of the Hard Tennis Club to provide on athlete from the club (as well as 2 other female athletes). Students from intramural teams strove to improve the level of their tennis, copying the coach and working hard to increase their speed of swinging through the ball.
Everyone has the right to incorporate sports as part of their daily lives (Right to Sports; Sport Basic Law 2011). When learning a new sport, it is necessary to acquire techniques for that sport. Practicing together with others is more fun because it enables learners to check each other’s technique.
・A sports camp in nature deepens the bonds between friends
Exercising by playing games with friends under the strong sun of mountain plateaus. At night, talking with friends in lodging rooms or under the star-filled sky. It seems that these experiences provide each student with the ability to take in all that this world has to offer. After the closing ceremony for the camp, I received the following request from a student to change the form of the class: “I made so many good friends during the tennis camp. You should change the class from ‘Spring Term Regular Classes + Tennis Camp’ to ‘Tennis Camp + Autumn Term Regular Classes.’” Through the sports camp classes, students enjoyed making new friends while overcoming the barriers between different academic years and between normal students and students in the Physical Education League.
The Paralympics will soon start. As a professional in research and education related to sports science, I will continue to convey the appeal of sports to students. At the same time, I want to focus on the role that sports science fulfills in society.
Professor of Sports Culture Theory and Sports Business Theory, Faculty of Commerce, Chuo University
Born in Tokyo Prefecture
March 1967: Graduated from the Department of Health at the School of Physical Education, Tokyo University of Education
March 1972: Obtained a Master’s Degree in kinesiology from the Graduate School of Physical Education, Tokyo University of Education
April 1973: Appointed as Full-Time Instructor at the Faculty of Commerce, Chuo University
April 1988 (until March 1989): Visiting Researcher in UFR-STAPS at the University of Paris V
April 1997 (until March 1998): Visiting Research in UFR-STAPS at the University of Paris V
*UFR-STAPS (Sciences and Techniques of Sports and Physical Activities) is a course for obtaining a license as an instructor of physical education.
Affiliated academic societies: Japan Society of Physical Education; Japan Society of Sports Industry
Research themes: Sports culture theory, Japan-France sports comparison, mega sports events, etc.