SPORTS EVENTS provide opportunities, not only for athletes to showcase their skills, but also for researchers to gain a first-hand understanding of a myriad of sport-related activities. Like many careers, on-site supervision facilitates experiential learning.
The recently concluded Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games (August 6-21) is an example of using a well-organized sporting event as a site for teaching and research. In the Caribbean, for example, if a student wishes to research hydration practices among athletes and non-athletes, the Jamaican Athletics Championships will provide a rich source of athlete data.
Likewise, if researchers wish to understand the fitness levels of cricketers, the annual CPL will be an ideal research site to compare regional and international player data.
The partnership between event organizers and universities and other research institutions is an innovative way of developing sports mutualism between players. For example, a sports event planning course will provide valuable insight into the logistical processes involved in organizing a successful event, including the important role of volunteers.
The narrative nuggets of experience and anticipated pitfalls will prepare students for events to come when assigned as volunteer coordinators with some on-task supervision.
At the Canada Games, the host city, Niagara, worked with a major public university and corporate sponsors to host competitions between sports teams of young athletes and Paralympians from 13 provinces and territories.
For the first time since they were held, the Games allowed university students to take an experiential course. Faculty-led teams used the event to gather research data of importance to participating provinces and territories.
Academic activities, research and special projects funded by Canada Games grants have reinforced the position that there are still untapped teaching and learning resources to be drawn from major Caribbean sports competitions.
The recently concluded Americas Netball World Cup Qualifiers in Kingston, Jamaica, the CARIFTA Games, and the highly competitive five-day ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Athletics Championships provide excellent learning opportunities for seekers. more on the different aspects of Caribbean sports.
As such, it raises the question of how universities, public and private sector entities can partner to co-design and implement skill-building courses and credited sports courses around major events. Caribbean athletes?
The Faculty of Sports has begun to use sports competitions as venues for Caribbean students to learn in-demand skills in sports marketing and public relations. The Faculty and the Caribbean Premier League piloted on-the-field training in sports marketing and public relations, which participants completed at the 2022 CPL tournament.
This experiential learning approach to training aspiring sports marketers is being refined for expansion. Designing experiential courses structured around major sporting events will produce lasting learning benefits.
Being assigned to a mega sporting event as a Food Services Coordinator, Media Liaison, Accreditation Assistant, Data Analyst, etc. in a well-designed and well-managed course promotes networking and invaluable work experience
Anyone who has been a member of an organizing committee for a major sporting event understands the military-style coordination necessary for success.
The planning process for facilities, operations, schedules, transportation, security, food services, among others, should begin months before the event. The range of functions before and during major sporting events make them ideal organic environments for sports and non-sports majors to learn important sports roles such as digital sports marketing, sports broadcasting, social media coordinator and more.
Sports researchers at a Canadian public university agree that the number, scope and caliber of games held each year in the Caribbean are potential sites for the development of innovative and integrated curricula. Games as sites for teaching and learning can be adapted for teaching sport in the region. The practical immersions integrated by sports medicine, sports and exercise medicine and the sports master’s degree organized by the Mona Academy of Sport in July are examples of the connections and performance-based teaching that characterize the program. sports at the University of the West Indies.
The Faculty of Sports resumes hosting sporting events with provisions for teaching and research activities. A core of experiential learning faculty supported by a network of industry experts will provide course content, on-site supervision, and mentorship before and during placement at sporting events.
And as with traditional courses, the experiential learning leader must assess and provide feedback during and at the end of the course, through observation, portfolio, reflection and other assessment strategies.
Student researchers and scholarship recipients capitalized on the number and diversity of spectators at the Canada Games. They recruited bystanders to complete short surveys that provided partial data to investigate young people’s body image perception and nutrition.
Here in the Caribbean, an event like the annual Jamaica Athletics Championships draws thousands of diverse patrons over five days. Sports students and researchers can recruit spectators for surveys on a range of topics. These topics could include nutritional choices for athletes and non-athletes, sponsorship deals for men’s and women’s teams, and the impact of climate change on sport.
As sport becomes increasingly commercialized and technology-driven, the case for a reciprocal partnership between sports organizers and research institutes such as the Faculty of Sports at the University of the West Indies is more important than never.
Sports mega-event planning should include the co-design and co-implementation of experiential courses. This will allow for the collection of important primary data that can be used by various stakeholders in future events. Athletes, coaches, event planners and students who are directly involved in experiential learning will see the value in studying and pursuing a career in sport.
Sport Pulse and Sport Matters are bi-monthly columns highlighting developments impacting sport. We look forward to your continued readership.