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.
Aristotle’s Conception of Arete and the Meaning of Records in Sport
Gregg Twietmeyer and Tyler G. Johnson
The Meritocracy Trap and Kinesiology
Gregg Twietmeyer and Tyler G. Johnson
Meritocracy continues to dominate conventional thinking in the postmodern West. Yet, recently, an increasing number of critics have highlighted how meritocracy has gone wrong. One such critic is Daniel Markovits, author of The Meritocracy Trap. In this article, we highlight the major themes of Markovits’s book, identify how the ideology of meritocracy has infiltrated kinesiology and sport, and then propose how to reconceptualize and redirect kinesiology toward a more humane and morally sound discipline, which can avoid the pitfalls of the meritocracy trap. Most notably, we propose that kinesiology should (a) recognize the frailty and temporality of humans, (b) embrace the wide middle of human skill performance capabilities, (c) value mid-level jobs and occupations such as physical education teaching and YMCA and/or city recreation department positions, and (d) redefine what counts as success.
Backwards Design and Program Level Approaches to Coach Development in Higher Education
Eric M. Martin, Scott J. Moorcroft, and Tyler G. Johnson
Because there is no single governing sport body in the United States devoted to coaching education, coaching requirements can vary greatly state-to-state and between organizations within the same state. Therefore, it often is up to club programs or universities to devise individual curriculum for coaching education. For those responsible for coaching education, utilizing backwards design can ensure programs meet the learning and professional development needs of coaches. In backwards design, identifying coaches’ needs and creating program-level learning outcomes occurs prior to specific content selection. Additionally, backwards design encourages instructors to select assessments and learning activities that align with the program-level learning outcomes. In this article, a group of faculty describe their experience utilizing backwards design in creating a college/university certificate program focused on sport coaching. Specifically, a description of the following is included: (a) the process used to create program-level learning outcomes, (b) how to emphasize the program-level learning outcomes throughout the program’s coursework, and (c) a specific example from one course in the curriculum. Finally, we provide lessons learned throughout the process and recommendations for program development in hopes that coach developers can utilize this process in designing their own curricula.
The Effects of the Type of Skill Test, Choice, and Gender on the Situational Motivation of Physical Education Students
Tyler G. Johnson, Keven A. Prusak, Todd Pennington, and Carol Wilkinson
The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of (a) skill test type, (b) choices, and (c) gender on the situational motivation profiles of adolescents during skill testing in physical education. Participants were 507 students (53% male) aged 12–16 years (M = 13.87; SD = 0.94) attending a suburban junior high school in a western state in the U.S. All participants experienced either a norm-referenced, summative or a criterion-referenced, formative skill test with or without choices. The Situational Intrinsic Motivation Scale (SIMS) was administered to assess situational motivation. A 2 (test type) × 2 (choice) × 2 (gender) MANOVA was used to test for significant differences on each of the four SIMS indices. Significant test type and gender and a significant test type by gender interaction were found. These findings suggest practitioners should use criterion-referenced, formative skill tests especially when teaching girls in physical education.
Social Capital: A Key Ingredient in the Development of Physical Activity Leadership
Julianne A. Wenner, Kimberly M.B. Tucker, Hannah G. Calvert, Tyler G. Johnson, and Lindsey Turner
Purpose: This research investigated how social capital relates to physical education (PE) teachers’ abilities to facilitate physical activity (PA) outside of PE class in their schools. Methods: Twenty-seven elementary PE teachers were interviewed. Data were analyzed using a multistep qualitative coding process ending in a cross-case analysis. Results: Among the three components of social capital (trustworthiness, norms, and information networks), positive norms around PE, and more broadly, PA, were most important for creating a physically active culture in schools. Trustworthiness was important, but less so than positive norms, and information networks were relatively unimportant for creating a culture of PA. Time was a limiting factor, because without it, PE teachers could not develop the social capital needed to promote PA. Conclusions: Becoming a PA leader is not just a function of will and motivation; rather, PE teachers must be supported with time and positive norms around PE and PA, which requires engagement of district and school leaders.
Step Counts of 10- to 11-Year-Old Children by Ethnicity and Metropolitan Status
Tyler G. Johnson, Timothy A. Brusseau, Susan Vincent Graser, Paul W. Darst, and Pamela H. Kulinna
The purpose of this study was to conduct a secondary analysis by combining 2 pedometer data sets to describe and analyze pedometer-determined steps/day of children by ethnicity and metropolitan status.
Participants were 582 children (309 girls, 273 boys; 53% Hispanic, 26% Caucasian, 21% African American) age 10 to 11 years (M = 10.37 ± 0.48) attending 1 of 10 schools located in urban, suburban, and rural settings. Participants wore a research grade pedometer for at least 3 week/school days. Mean steps/ day were analyzed by gender, ethnicity, and metropolitan status.
Statistical analyses indicated 1) boys (12,853 ± 3831; P < .001) obtained significantly more steps/day than girls (10,409 ± 3136); 2) African American (10,709 ± 3386; P < .05) children accumulated significantly less steps/day than Hispanic (11,845 ± 3901) and Caucasian (11,668 ± 3369) children; and 3) urban (10,856 ± 3706; P < .05) children obtained significantly less steps/day than suburban (12,297 ± 3616) and rural (11,934 ± 3374) children.
Findings support self-report data demonstrating reduced physical activity among African American children and youth, especially girls, and among children and youth living in urban areas. Possible reasons for these discrepancies are explored.
Step Counts of Non-White Minority Children and Youth by Gender, Grade Level, Race/Ethnicity, and Mode of School Transportation
Tyler G. Johnson, Timothy A. Brusseau, Paul W. Darst, Pamela H. Kulinna, and Janel White-Taylor
The purposes of this study were to describe and analyze the steps/d of nonwhite minority children and youth by gender, grade level, race/ethnicity, and mode of school transportation. A secondary purpose was to compare the steps/d of minority children and youth to their Caucasian grade-level counterparts.
Participants were 547 minority youth grades 5 to 8 from 4 urban schools. Participants wore sealed pedometers for 6 consecutive week/school days. Three hundred and ten participants responded to a questionnaire concerning their mode of transportation to and from school.
Statistical analyses indicated a main effect for gender (F(3, 546) = 13.50, P < .001) with no interaction. Boys (12,589 ± 3921) accumulated significantly more steps/d than girls (9,539 ± 3,135). Further analyses also revealed a significant main effect for mode of school transportation (F(2, 309) = 15.97, P ≤ .001). Walkers (12,614 ± 4169) obtained significantly more steps/d than car (10,021 ± 2856) or bus (10,230 ± 3666) transit users.
Minority boys obtain similar steps/d as their Caucasian grade-level counterparts; minority girls obtain less steps/d than their Caucasian grade-level counterparts. Minority youth who actively commute are more likely to meet PA recommendations than nonactive commuters.