The modern sports world is currently obsessed with records, data, statistics, and/or the objective measurement of human performance. A primary message originating from this trend—manifesting in youth, club, interscholastic, intercollegiate, and professional sport—is that breaking records and improving one’s statistical output is the main objective of sport. In this article, we argue for why a predominant focus on records, stats, and winning is self-limiting and thereby misses the mark of what sport and sporting performance are. It is human beings who play sports rather than mere physical mechanical objects. Furthermore, we propose an arete-based philosophical perspective—taken directly from the ancient Greeks and particularly Aristotle—for how we ought to conceptualize and pursue sport. An arete-based philosophy captures the true essence of what sport is about by rooting it in what is “good and beautiful” (kalokagathia as the Greeks called it). Arete or “virtue” is, for Aristotle, about the cultivation of human excellence. Excellence, however, is not myopically reduced to “being the best,” “achieving fame or honor,” or “winning.” Instead, arete aims at cultivating the skills, both kinesthetic and moral, that lead to a good life. Elite performance, no matter how impressive, is never more than one small aspect of such a life. Character matters too, which means human excellence is never reducible to the measurable. After articulating this Aristotelian philosophy of sport, we then conclude the article by offering five recommendations for how teachers, coaches, and leaders of sport organizations can improve the culture of sport. Physical educators and coaches would be wise to take this Aristotelian conception of arete to heart.
Gregg Twietmeyer and Tyler G. Johnson
Athletes have long been activists, but the historical presentation and understanding of that activism is complex, constantly shifting, and wrought with contradictions and paradoxes. In this article, I call attention to facts and narratives around social justice, including how kinesiology and its subdisciplines embrace and afford opportunities to women and racial and ethnic minorities and casts them in their visions for the future. Neither raw statistics of (under- or over-) representation nor promises of a brighter future are likely to have any impact or contribute to understanding until they are presented in coherent narratives that include, or are preferably created by, affected voices. Only when kinesiology is producing a critical volume of these narratives can it truly claim to be contributing to social justice.
Scott W.T. McNamara, Melissa Bittner, Heather Katz, and Kelly Hangauer
The coronavirus pandemic required teachers to abruptly turn to online settings to deliver instruction. Unfortunately, evidence-based guidance for online instruction in the field of physical education is lacking, specifically for students with disabilities. Therefore, this scoping review sought to identify peer-reviewed literature addressing online learning in K–12 adapted physical education settings. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews extension for Scoping Reviews Checklist was used to guide this scoping review. A database search was conducted for relevant articles, and a data charting process was completed to identify articles meeting inclusion criteria. Five articles were determined to be within the scope of this review (one research article and four commentary articles). This scoping review highlighted a lack of literature pertaining to online learning in K–12 adapted physical education. Considering the likelihood of online learning becoming increasingly relevant, more concerted efforts are needed to investigate trends in these settings to determine best practices and how students with disabilities experience adapted physical education within an online setting.
Eve Bernstein, Ingrid Johnson, Tess Armstrong, and Ulana Lysniak
This study investigated physical education Facebook social media platforms to analyze comments by in-service teachers regarding their perceptions and experiences using competitive activities during secondary physical education classes. The last 5 years’ worth of initial postings and successive comments by a member and group members were examined. The community of practice framework guided this study. Data were compared with appropriate practice in sport. Over 745 lines of data, teachers’ responses were analyzed using NVivo (version 10.0). The first theme focused on the real game and the athlete. The second theme discussed separating genders; this theme had two subthemes, including (a) skill and gender: coed is great if you have skill and (b) gender-specific activities. The third theme focused on inappropriate activities, toughening up students, and that keeping score is fun. Results indicated teachers’ shared and conflicted perceptions that involved skill and gender during competitive activities.
Scott Kretchmar and Mark L. Latash
In this essay, we adopt a theory of behavior developed by the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty in an attempt to find common ground between philosophy and physics. We look for ways to reconcile matter with meaning, physical motion with the principles of ethics, body with mind. We proceed in three steps, first by providing a review of Merleau-Ponty’s theory; second by showing how ethical behavior is constrained and shaped by factors found in physics, chemistry, and biology; and, finally, by describing how physical motion is affected by factors that transcend the laws of classical physics. For the latter purpose, we accept a theory of parametric control of movements with spatial referent coordinates. Our purpose is not to solve specific problems of motor control or moral decision making but, rather, to test a general theoretical scheme that carries a number of practical implications for both research and education, including the need for collaboration between and among diverse research subdisciplines in kinesiology.
NiCole R. Keith
Health equity will be achieved when all demographics have a fair opportunity be healthy. This essay describes the possibility of achieving health equity through physical activity. It presents the social ecological model of physical activity and describes how both microenvironmental and macroenvironmental factors influence one’s ability to participate. There is then a description of watershed moments in American history that negatively influenced the ability of certain demographics to be active today. It then describes groups participating in less physical activity when compared to others. Several public health and political science models are then suggested with specific examples of how they have been implemented in the past to improve health or physical activity. The essay ends by describing the need to build the physical activity evidence among vulnerable populations that tend to be underrepresented in research and explains best practices in engaging these populations in investigative work.
Bradley J. Cardinal
Kinesiology is a field focused on physical activity and its impact on health, society, and quality of life. But do all people have equal opportunities to access and experience physical activity? Do physical activity settings allow people to freely express themselves? Are the benefits of physical activity universally shared by all people? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then these questions demand not only our immediate attention, but also our collective action. During the National Academy of Kinesiology’s 90th anniversary meeting, September 22–24, 2021, these questions and others were explored through presentations devoted to the theme “Kinesiology’s Social Justice Imperative.” This essay overviews the meeting, its purpose, and the organizers and introduces the 11 thematic papers in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Kinesiology’s 2021 Meeting: Kinesiology’s Social Justice Imperative” issue, plus a 12th essay commemorating the National Academy of Kinesiology’s 90th anniversary meeting.
Bradley J. Cardinal
This essay commemorates the National Academy of Kinesiology’s 90th anniversary meeting, even though the first meeting of fellows of an “[American] Academy of Physical Education” occurred in 1904, some 118 years ago. Clark W. Hetherington, Robert Tait McKenzie, William Burdick, Thomas A. Storey, and Jay B. Nash met in October 1926 to reignite the Academy of yesteryear. On December 31, 1930, just 14 months and 1 week into the Great Depression, they and 24 others formally launched what the Academy has become today. “Clearly, they were a bold, hearty, and optimistic group. Their determination, inspiration, and perspiration remain guiding lights for us to this day!” This essay aims to demystify and humanize the Academy by sharing stories of how it was formed and how it continues to inform all those working in kinesiology and related fields through its distinguished Fellows, one of whom is a Nobel Laureate.
Paul Bernard Rukavina
The deleterious effects of weight bias in physical activity spaces for children, adolescents, and adults are well documented. Different types of weight bias occur, and they interact at multiple levels within a person’s ecology, from the messaging of often unattainable sociocultural thin/muscular ideals and physical inequities (e.g., equipment not appropriate for body shapes and sizes) to interpersonal and public discriminatory comments. However, the most damaging is the internalization and application of negative weight-bias stereotypes by those with overweight and obesity to themselves. An imperative for social justice is now; there is great need to advocate for, provide support for, and design inclusive physical activity spaces to reduce weight bias so that all individuals feel welcome, accept their bodies, and are empowered to live a healthy, active lifestyle. To make this a reality, an interdisciplinary and preventive approach is needed to understand bias and how to minimize it in our spaces.