An examination of the kinds of questions we ask ourselves provides a window through which to interpret our history and imagine our future. I suggest that there are three kinds of questions—large ones, small ones, and leaky ones. Those that are identified as large and small map onto the value structures we have created for ourselves in higher education. I call these structures caste systems in which some subdisciplines are valued over others, and theoreticians stand above both practitioners and skill teachers. Leaky questions are those that cross boundaries because they cannot be effectively answered by those residing in any one area or at any one level. I argue that leaky questions generate humility, mutual respect, and incentives for collaboration. I trace my own attempts to address all three kinds of questions as a sport philosopher and conclude that our brighter future in kinesiology, including our attempts to address the harms created by the caste system, requires us to see that most of the questions we find interesting are, in fact, leaky in nature.
Large Questions, Small Questions, and Leaky Ones Too
Promoting the Dance: Should We Resuscitate Play?
Douglas Anderson's article about the demise of play in American culture challenges us at both personal and professional levels. It raises the possibility that play is on the wane for us personally, our own children, and our students. It suggests that we have turned our professional backs on play and allowed our play curricula to languish or disappear altogether. In this reaction paper, I affirm Anderson's thesis about the current status of play. I discuss play metaphorically as a dance between the player (the dancer) and the playground (the dancer's partner). I describe this as a fragile relationship, one that needs to be cultivated if it is to endure. I suggest that we kinesiologists have not been good supporters of the dance because of tacit or explicit commitments we have made about knowledge, value, and culture. I claim that unless and until we resolve these issues, we will continue to push physical play off the pedagogical stages at our colleges and universities.
Philokinesiology: A Perilous Place for Predictions
In this essay I argue that predictions for the future of the philosophy of sport (as well as kinesiology as a whole) are complicated by at least three factors. These include the emergence of what I identify as “minority voices,” the fact that appearances deceive and that going “backwards” sometimes results in moving forwards, and the emerging realization that those of us in seemingly independent research silos are actually interrelated. Philokinesiologists cannot predict where they are going without knowing where physiokinesiologists, biomeckinesiologists, pedekinesiologists, and others are moving, and visa versa. I describe this uncertain journey as an exciting adventure, one that is made all the more interesting because we will be traveling together.
Tensions, Integrations, Messiness, and Hope for the Future
R. Scott Kretchmar
The 2012 Academy meeting focused on research related to increasing levels of physical activity and promoting persistence. Speakers agreed that answers would be hard to come by but that progress was possible. Emphases for potential solutions ranged from the cellular to the cultural, from neural mechanisms to symbolic processes, from particle physics to philosophy. Strategies for intervention were diverse and refected a series of dynamical tensions—behavioral and nonbehavioral, cognitive and noncognitive, traditional and nontra-ditional, environmental and motivational, and finally medical in contrast to educational. It is likely, given the complexities inherent in increasing movement behaviors and assuring persistence, that various blends of solutions emerging from multiple points on the disciplinary landscape and honoring truths that run across these strategic tensions will be needed.
Challenges, Achievements, and Uncertainties: The Philosophy of Sport Since the 1980s
R. Scott Kretchmar and Cesar R. Torres
The philosophy of sport has flourished in some ways and struggled in others since the publication of George Brooks’s anthology Perspectives on the Academic Discipline of Physical Education: A Tribute to G. Lawrence Rarick in 1981. In this article, the authors trace challenges faced by the philosophy of sport, discuss trends and hot topics, analyze opportunities for integrations with other subdisciplines, and speculate on the current issues in and the future of the philosophy of sport. While they conclude that the philosophy of sport’s prospect within kinesiology is uncertain and that it has work to do, they also conclude that this subdiscipline is uniquely positioned to provide kinesiology with the clarity and unity of purpose it needs.
Human Movement: In Search of Borderlands Between Philosophy and Physics
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.
A Generative Synthesis for Kinesiology: Lessons from History and Visions for the Future
Hal A. Lawson and R. Scott Kretchmar
Debates-as-battles have characterized the histories of physical education and kinesiology. This colorful part of the field’s history was characterized by leaders’ narrow, rigid views, and it paved the way for divisiveness, excessive specialization, and fragmentation. Today’s challenge is to seek common purpose via stewardship-oriented dialogue, and it requires a return to first order questions regarding purposes, ethics, values, moral imperatives, and social responsibilities. These questions are especially timely insofar as kinesiology risks running on a kind of automatic pilot, seemingly driven by faculty self-interests and buffered from consequential changes in university environments and societal contexts. A revisionist history of kinesiology’s origins and development suggests that it can be refashioned as a helping discipline, one that combines rigor, relevance, and altruism. It gives rise to generative questions regarding what a 21st century discipline prioritizes and does, and it opens opportunity pathways for crossing boundaries and bridging divides. Three sets of conclusions illuminate unrealized possibilities for a vibrant, holistic kinesiology—a renewed discipline that is fit for purpose in 21st century contexts.
How to Promote Physical Activity Across the Life Span: Tips From Grasshoppers, Ants … and Eleanor Metheny
R. Scott Kretchmar
This paper addresses two of the recurring themes of the 2023 National Academy of Kinesiology meeting—namely, how to articulate the value of physical activity most forcefully and how to promote it most effectively. Authors of several papers placed an emphasis on the values of well-being, particularly those related to health, fitness, physical rehabilitation, and exercise persistence. Yet, there was an acknowledgment that we had not been sufficiently effective in winning converts to activity across the life span. Questions were also raised, both implicitly and explicitly, about our unity in kinesiology and where we (or different parts of us) belong in university structures. I address these issues by employing two characters from The Fables of Aesop (the grasshopper and the ant) in addition to the philosophies of G.K. Chesterton and Eleanor Metheny. I present a paradoxical model for kinesiology that focuses on how different movements mean and celebrates extreme levels of diversity amid unshakable unity.