Title IX – More than a Game; An Opportunity

On June 23, 1972, President Nixon signed the Education amendment act, Title IX. The law says, “students cannot be denied participation in any school program solely based on their sex.”  Title IX is not without controversy, but I feel lucky to have been attending high school at the time.  As I reflect on the past 45+ years Title IX has been more than a game; it has been an opportunity.  

My Visual Blossom, titled “Title IX to Blog” shares my entry into sports and introduces the idea that the outcomes of sports participation exceed the physical aspect of active engagement.  I view the sports environment as a mini-society or participatory model of life. I feel that the developmental opportunities in the larger world and those in the sports environment are similar.

The most important outcome of my three years of high athletic participation and serving as a Senior Prep Assistant with Miss B was the understanding that blending the academic and co-curricular experience affects learning and development. Darling-Hammond, Flook, Cook-Harvey, Barron, & Osher (2019) confirm that human development is a lifelong process of acquiring, analyzing, and synthesizing information, ideas, and knowledge.

My education and athletic pursuits guided my career path

My competitive athletic life continued after college for another 20 years.  I ran road races from 5K to half marathon and competed in triathlons and duathlons. In 1987 I earned the “Open Runner of the Year” award and in 1995 I was the Senior Women Bike Time Trial champion. 

Serving as a recreational sports administrator for 10 years I contributed to the profession through presentations and research supporting the idea of the value sports participation on student development.  

The next 10 years serving as Director of Research and Assessment I studied the relationship between academic and co-curricular experiences and the ability of these experiences to facilitate student development and achievement.

As an adjunct faculty member in the School of Education Graduate Program for the next 15 years, I primarily taught research courses. In this faculty position I also directed my energy to mentoring doctoral students’ research initiatives as a subject matter expert on student development. 

Life stages overlapped and influenced others, but the foundation remained clear. I was the first generation to benefit from Title IX.  Title IX afforded many opportunities that led to many life lessons. The nine life lessons listed below is a partial list of what I learned through my sports participation that has carried over to other aspects of life.

Camaraderie (relationship building) from being part of a team

Sportsmanship being ethical and fair in my participation

Grace and resilience through experiencing successes and failures

Leadership through using my strengths to the best of my abilities through collaboration and cooperation

Confidence to pursue my goals

Time Management to aid in balancing life and work

Commitment to follow through on goals for self and for the team

Identity became grounded in principles and practices that define who I am

Integrity to abide by rules within the team and the sport

Title IX has directly and indirectly (formally and informally) influenced my life.  I strive to share my passion for life and learning by helping others connect the pieces in ways that matter.

Success is not how far you got,
but the distance you traveled
from where you started.
Steve Prefontaine

We all have dreams,
in order ot make dreams come into reality,
it takes an awful lot of
determination, dedication,
self-discipline, and effort.
Jesse Owens

Sports: A Spectator’s and a Fan’s Perspective

A person who watches sports is a “spectator” and/or a “fan”. A spectator is an active observer of the event.  A fan is an admirer or aficionado of the sport and often links identity to a team. Both have emotional significance, value and connectedness derived from group membership.  When watching a sport, a spectator typically refers to “the team” while a fan uses the word “we” when referring to the team.  

I became a spectator and a fan of sports
during high school. 
I was an active observer and
an admirer of these guys!!

My perspective of “watching” sports during high school was narrower than it is today. At the time, I watched as a social event and to support my classmates who were playing.  It enhanced my psychological wellbeing through the social connection with others. Identity formed from talking about the games, sharing experiences and bonding with a group. The videos produced by the Power of Football share the broader perspective of “tradition; brotherhood; moments; community. Football’s positive impact transcends communities across the U.S. — both on and off the field.” 

“There’s something special about high school football.” 
Video (1:52)

There is much written about the value of sports from the players perspective.  The literature lacks content on how spectators and fans perceive sports. Brown (2017) wrote about the influence of identity development through any level of watching sports.  Those watching sport (in person or through the media) consistently mention sense of belonging and feeling part of a group as outcomes of the experience.  Camaraderie, upholding tradition, and community pride are results when friends, neighbors and other members of the community support a sport team.

Almendraia (2017), senior reporter for Huffington Post, interviewed sports psychology professor Daniel Wann of Murray State University. Wann is the author of the book Sport Fans: The Psychology And Social Impact Of Spectators. He explains that there are two routes to feeling good through watching sports.

“One would be following a successful team, and the second would simply be identifying with them. You can get well-being benefits even if your team doesn’t succeed.  It all comes down to how community lifts our spirits and the sense of belonging-ness that increases with a group of like-minded individuals.”

Gau & James (2013) share a value-type framework associated with spectator sports. The goal of the study was to fill the gap in the literature since prior research focused on the participant rather than the spectator. In addition, the literature review found that much of the prior research investigated motivation for watching rather than personal values.

A summary of how the study participants describe
values of spectatorship

EnjoymentExperience success & failure, relaxing, distraction for daily routine, drama of unpredictability
SociabilityInteraction focused on a common goal with friends and strangers
IdentityTeam and player identification, nationalism, parental and peer pride, and hero admiration
StatusSport is important to society so being knowledgeable and able to discuss sports improves self esteem
SpiritualFulfilling, self-satisfying, self-acceptance, vicarious sense of achievement, quest for perfection
MoralSense of fairness and integrity, empathy, discipline, courage
CognitiveStrategies, techniques, tactics, statistics and records, team history
AestheticBeauty and grace of movement, sport is an art form
RitualCeremonial aspects of sport such as tailgating and booster events, observation of athlete rituals

“It is pure escape—it provides me something to just plain enjoy or get mad at, it connects me to my friends, my neighbors, and to random strangers who feel the same pull and passion of the game.”   Becky Simon-Burton

Becoming a spectator and a fan of sports started during high school.  Today I don’t follow high school sports as much as a fan but I do embrace high school sports as a spectator by “keeping up with” local school results.  

Now I’m an avid spectator and fan of college football.  The power of football for me is that my community is across the U.S.  whether I am directly in contact with others or not. The feeling of community exists (a sense of belonging with like-minded people).

I particularly enjoy rival games (Army-Navy, Ohio State-Michigan, Oklahoma-Texas, Alabama-Auburn…to name a few) because of the tradition and camaraderie shared by players on each team and by the spectators/fans in the stands.

The values of spectatorship listed above connect with me. In most every game I watch I can easily point out examples of each value. I’m definitely a college football fan and spend a lot of time watching games…this enthusiasm to “watch” sports began in high school watching MY team play the game.  When I think back on those years…”There is no other place I’d rather be.”

I hope you enjoy the video below.

No Other Place I’d Rather Be  
(Video 2:47)

Social-Psychological Aspects of Sports Officiating

School is back in session.  After-school activities and recreation leagues are forming. Often officials for these programs are young adults, at times peers to those playing. They are transitioning from taking part in the sport as a player to serving the sport as an official.This transition can be challenging.  League and program administrators, parents and coaches contribute to the development of the officials. I have experience both as an official (basketball, volleyball, and softball) and as a trainer of officials. During my time in both roles I discovered the importance of a expanding knowledge and skills beyond rules and mechanics.  

Competitive sports events usually bring three groups of participants together, two teams and a crew of officials.  The relationship between the teams and officials have a considerable influence not only the perceived success of the event but also on the personal development of the participants.  Good officiating helps produce a healthy, educational, and sportsmanlike environment associated with the fair determination of a winner.  Competent officials are the principle requirement of a successful program.

I consider aptitude as well as attitude essential elements of successful officiating. Because officiating is a personal challenge, and each official brings to the program many different qualities, training programs should include social-psychological (the area of sport psychology and the area of sociology of sport) aspects. Officiating, to a great extent, is more the product of several interrelated human factors than a knowledge of rules and adherence to a series of mechanical procedures.  

Guillen and Feltz (2011) discuss self-efficacy as a conceptual model for sports officiating. Young adults serving as officials take on a position of power which includes peer pressure, authority, decision-making, problem solving, and management of aggression.  These young officials should be in a state of psychological readiness to contend with such factors.  Bond, 2013; Dovidio, 2006; & Rauthmann 2017 support the long-accepted view in psychology that behavior results from contributing factors within the situation (environment) and within the individual. 

One of the earliest experimental issues pursued in in social psychology was the impact of social presence.  Arousal level increases significantly by the mere presence of others.  Carron, 1984; Mullen et al., 1997; & Ukezono, 2015 describe the response is it relates to the quality of performance. Under the increased arousal, dominant, well-learned responses improve, but poorly learned, more tentative responses diminish.  Therefore, the level of distraction, stress, or anxiety is inversely proportional to the level of officiating.

Jarvis, 2005; Kraut, 2003; & Rosenberg, 2009 explain that evaluation apprehension is the expectation that the people who are present will form a judgement about the quality of the performance often causes the increased arousal.  Anxiety about evaluation contributes to an increase in arousal level which influences the effectiveness of performance.  In addition, the characteristics of those present, for example spectators, influences motivation and performance.

Those responsible for training of young adult officials should be aware of the social-psychological influences that could affect performance.  “Knowledge is power” and “practice makes perfect” are two specific teaching techniques to include into the training program.  Besides the cognitive training aspects, which include rule interpretation and mechanics, a program could educate officials in the following areas:

  • Physiological reactions to stress
  • Relaxation techniques and attention to control strategies
  • Reaction time management (presence of an audience usually causes faster responses and often leads to increased errors)
  • Anxiety management when in the presence of a hostile/unsupportive audience
  • The greater the experience in actual situations the greater the acclimatization
  • Trainers should teach skills until they are overlearned
  • The more similar a practice drill or situation is to the real event the greater the benefit
  • Precondition officials to hostile settings. Ways to influence self-confidence include:

**Performance accomplishment
(personal experiences perceived as successfully)

**Vicarious experience
(seeing someone else perform in a difficult situation)

**Verbal persuasion
(communicating and reflecting on experiences with others)

A key tip mentioned in Harbourne’s (2017) interview with Brian Mills, the assistant director for recreation sports at University of Houston, is to “ditch the rulebook”.  

When training new officials, Mills suggests loosening up on the rules just a little. “When we bring in new officials, we don’t focus on 100 pages of rules anymore,” added Mills. “We focus on their development from a holistic approach. We dedicated time to discuss the benefits of becoming an official outside of money, we discuss how officiating can provide them the experiential opportunities to better themselves down the road, and we discuss the importance of soft skills like communication, management, emotional intelligence and teamwork. We expand on that with veterans and add new components like self-management, relationship building and relationship management as they develop skills to be aware of themselves and others.”

Wheeler (2014) wrote a two-part series on “What Does It Take To Be An Intramural Sports Official”.  In part 2 of her blog she shares insights from her student officials.  Overlap exist in the comments below are related to the social-psychological aspect of sports officiating discussed above. 

What would you say is the hardest part of being an intramural sports official?

“The hardest part is getting yelled at by disgruntled participants and trying to keep a level head.”

“The most difficult part about being an intramural official is being able to read people’s emotions and intentions. Often I make calls or choose to let a call go if I realize the person didn’t mean to commit the action or realizes wrong-doing.”

Were you intimidated when you first started working and did you have any previous sports officiating experience?

“I was a soccer referee before I worked for campus recreation, but I was still intimidated on my first day of work because I didn’t think I knew flag football (the first sport I worked) that well and I was nervous.”

“It was slightly intimidating my very first game, but before each season starts, we receive training that pertains to our specific sport so once the game starts rolling you just get into the mode and do what you’re supposed to; I did not have any previous experience.”

What do you think you’ve gained (as a person in general, not necessarily as a sports official) from your job here at campus rec? How is that valuable to you in your planned future pursuits?

“Being a sports official has definitely taught me better conflict management skills, communication skills, and how to be more vocal and proactive. I think those skills are valuable in almost every work environment.”

“I’ve gained the ability to be more assertive with large groups. Often people playing these sports look to you for guidance and you have to step up and give it to them or they won’t respect you.”

Many factors are contributors to the evolution of developing a competent sports official.  It is important to realize that officials become vulnerable when they perceive a doubt of others or when they have self-doubt. The responsibility of those training young adults to serve as an official is to develop a comprehensive training program.  The training must extend beyond rule interpretation & mechanics and include social-psychological aspects.

For those of you who are officiating sports consider the 3 questions Wheeler asked her students.  How would you respond?

For those of you who are training official consider the 3 questions Wheeler asked her students.  How would you hope your officials would respond?

Run For My Body, Run For My Soul

Dewey (1933, 1938) in his works How We Think: A Restatement of the Relation of Reflective Thinking to the Educative Process and Experience and Education believed that reflecting on our experiences is a key to personal development.  He pointed out the importance of reflection to connect experience with learning to create meaning and stimulate growth and change.

In my first blog, I stated that gaining a personal knowledge of practice (how you live life) requires reflection.  After writing my last blog titled “Recreational Sports Contributes to Personal Development” I started thinking about my own sports experiences.  The July 8 blog focused on traditional aged college students.  I think it is important to consider how an ongoing active lifestyle contributes to personal development. I have been a runner for over 40 years.  I don’t run as much as I did “back in the day” but running and exercise (being active) remains important to me.  

While discussing the importance of reflection in my first blog I suggested to my readers…

  • Consider your past, present, and vision for your future
  • Consider ways you can share with our readers, family, friends, colleagues, students
  • Consider ways your experiences transfer from one aspect of your life to another

Taking my own advice, I thought I would share some insights from my past, present, and future plan as a runner.

My past

I was a scholarship athlete (track and cross country) as an undergrad.
I raced competitively (road race, duathlons, triathlons) for 20+ years.

My present

I workout usually 6 days a week…sometimes 7, sometimes 5.  
I lift weights, bike, pilates in addition to running.
I take part in group workouts for the added social benefit.

My future  

I plan to continue to workout regularly with a primary focus on weight bearing activities. 
I expect walking and swimming will be part of my future activities BUT I plan to stay in the present for as long as possible. : )

During my competitive years I had a quote on my bulletin board.

To those who keep pace with the sun,
the day is a perpetual morning.
Henry David Thoreau

I continue to start my day with exercise and predict mornings will continue to be “my time”.  Never (well almost never) is there a day when I don’t look forward to my workouts. Sometimes not a long or fast workout but I always go.  My motto at this stage in life is ‘something is better than nothing’.  

Start without an end in sight
Remember that anything is better than nothing.  
Let the pace find itself.  
Run for yourself.  
Run for today.

In the past, my running was a priority…now it does not fill my day, but it does influence the rest of my day.

Running is fun. Not HA-HA fun, but a quieter kind of contented fun.  
Not fun every minute of every day.  
But fun in the overall effect.  
My running is easy and comfortable, and it feels good.  
Seldom is there is a morning when I do not feel 100% better
in the last mile of a run then I had in the first mile.
Joe Henderson

As I move forward in life, I know I will continue to pursue my activities.  The older I get, the more I realize there is more to these activities than just the competitiveness I found in the past.  Improving and enhancing body, mind, and spirit result from my physical activity. 

Check out these two articles:

Why Fitness is a Spiritual Practice

What Does Running Mean to You

I’ve also added a couple books to my reading list:

Time for you to think about your lifetime hobbies and how these experiences have been beneficial to you. Pulling from a classroom assessment strategy, the one minute paper I’ve listed some questions below to help stimulate your thoughts. A one minute paper is a short writing task to prompt reflection.

**Why was the hobby important to you in the past?
**In what way is the hobby important to you now?
**How has the value of the hobby changed over time?
**How will the hobby be a part of your future?
**How has your participation in the hobby impacted your life (past and present)?
**How do you expect the hobby to contribute to your wellbeing in the future?

NOTE: Your initial answer to each question should take 1 minute or less.

Feel free to share your thoughts…I’m interested!!!

Recreational Sports Contributes to Student Development

Reviewing my About page you see that I spent 10 years managing recreational sports programs for college-aged students followed by 10 years studying the relationship between academic and co-curricular experiences. The interest in how these experiences could facilitate student development and achievement are still important to me.  A few months ago I collaborated with a local university recreational sports department.  My primary function was to provide an introduction for a staff development program focusing on student development and meeting mission.  The institution mission is in direct alignment with the purpose of my blog. It says in part, “to enrich the educational experience by providing opportunities that focus on the development of lifelong wellness skills for students.”  

To create the presentation the staff and I discussed importance of bridging the department mission to the university mission.  Linking department mission statement and the organization mission promotes unity of vision.

A department’s mission statement extends to the campus community a promise of intent to serve. While a mission statement can be the inspirational foundation of an organization, it must also be the framework for program planning and assessment. 

Flow from intent of the organization (mission) to the program goals (desired outcomes) guides evaluation of the goals (actual outcomes). In other words, how well does the department contribute to the organization meeting mission.

Applying the concepts of a mission statement into practice will afford the ability to answer the “so what” question.

We discussed and worked through an exercise to operationalize the mission statements (institution and department). Transforming the mission statement from an abstract concept to a specific measurable vision contributes to progam planning.

The purpose of the exercise was to name key elements of each and pinpoint overlap.  Below is a partial example of such an outcome of the exercise (used in another setting).

The second part of the staff development was to select a theoretical foundation for their work.  My role was to supply an example of using theory to guide practice.  I chose Arthur Chickering’s (1969, 1993) student development theory.  He bases his model on the precept of experiential learning. This theory is a perfect fit as an example for a recreational sports department.  As conceptualized by Chickering, experiential learning is the learning that occurs in a person as the result of changes in judgments, feelings, knowledge or skills.  Chickering hypothesizes that the student experiences have the potential to have a substantial impact on overall development.  Chickering’s model includes 7 evolving factors (tasks) of student development, which he refers to as vectors.  Vector quantifies both direction (i.e., improve, status quo, worsen) and magnitude (i.e., how much of a change).

Below are some examples (non-inclusive list) of how recreational sports programming contributes to student development (applying Chickering’s vectors)

Achieving Competence

**Sports participation enhance self image
**Classification systems used in programming contributes to building competence
**Social interaction and challenge of participation
**Positions of responsibility provide opportunities to build competence **Learning rules, how to work together as a team, strategy of play and competition

Managing Emotions

**Participation helps express aggression (cathartic effect)
**Sport environment allows an opportunity to try new ways of expressing emotions
**Co-recreational opportunities enhance social interactions
**Need to adhere to rules and regulations


**Participation in sports helps in character development, self sufficiency, and self support
**Sports teams help in disengagement from parents (transition to college) **Enhances the ability to use each other’s strengths to make progress as teams make decisions and solve problems
**Cooperation among team members and opponents is necessary to have a successful play experience 

Interpersonal Relationships

**Tolerance may develop by creating a plane of equality on the playing field **Classification of sports and variety of program offerings aid in diversity of personal interactions
**Sports environment helps to eliminate social and racial barriers

Establishing Identity

**Self-concept varies directly with one’s body concept and sports participation enhances this
**Helps develop ability to handle/respond to competitive pressure

Developing Purpose

**Participation may enhance goal directed behavior
**Setting of the team or performance goals and persistence in accomplishing these goals
**Individual and dual sports aid in lifestyle development

Developing Integrity

**Participation enhances loyalty and altruism
**Sport environment allows one to observe, analyze, and evaluate others value structures
**Sport environment develops its own behavior structures, norms, and statuses

Tell me and I Forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand. – Confucius
Final Thoughts

A recreational sports department should have, above all, a fixed, articulate philosophy concerning the nature, intent and reason behind the programs.  Recreation professionals must transition from intent and apply theory to practice in order to prove educational accountability.  Student development theory, such as Chickering, serves as a core construct around which we identify goals, programs developed, and interventions evaluated.

If a profession is to know where it is going, what it is striving for, what it hopes to accomplish, and how it might proceed in its work, it should have goals and outcomes clearly defined. 

If human development is indeed a lifelong process of acquiring, analyzing, and synthesizing information, ideas, and knowledge then recreational sports professionals can feel good about the impact of their programs on that part of the process which occurs during a student’s college career.

I view the sports environment as a mini-society or participatory model of life. I feel that the developmental opportunities in the larger world and those in the sports environment are similar. Future blogs will expand on these comments…my recent work has stimulated the idea to share my beliefs with you.

Any thoughts??

Music Matters: Musicians & Athletes

Teaching and performing music stem from a similar background as coaching and athletics.  The best teachers are coaches and the best coaches are teachers. The goal for a coach or a teacher is to unlock potential.  Hard work, practice, desire to improve, self-discipline, willingness to learn from feedback, patience, and willingness to learn from setbacks are a few commonalities musicians and athletes share. The responsibility of teaching and performing music should extend beyond skill development to a  holistic/wellness perspective.  Associations, organizations, authors, broadcasters, and others all agree that musicians and athletes are much the same.

The Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) has partnered with Athletes and the Arts, “to better understand health, physical performance, and physical activity needs uniqueto performing artists”.  The MTNA journal American Music Teacher provides an annotated bibliography of wellness resources for musicians and teachers.  The full document of annotations is in the Resources section titled AMT Wellness.  Of particular interest would be a series of sources titled “Playing Healthy, Staying Healthy” located at the end of the document (pp.14-19). Randall Dick from Athletes and the Arts and John Snyder from Artists House Foundation presented a webinar, Athletes and the Arts: What Musicians Can Learn From Athletes, sponsored by the College Music Society.  This 40 minute webinar is available in the Resources section. 

Perform: NFL Coach Trains with Concert Pianist…a Journey of Athletes, Musicians, Coaches and Teachers (2011) published by NFL coach Paul Alexander is “dedicated to aspiring athletes, musicians, speakers, coaches, teachers, parents and their admirers”. Mr. Alexander states on his website that Perform is a book for “anyone interested in developing elite human performance”. There are 3 videos (less that 15 minutes total) embedded in the website that are well worth your time to view.  The perspectives shared are from the point of view as an athlete and a musician.

The Balanced Musician: Integrating Mind and Body for Peak Performance (2013) by Lesley Sisterhen McAllister utilizes research from athletics and music to outline techniques for success.  Anyone with an athletic or a musical background will see the similarities just from reading the 1stparagraph of the introduction.

Preview the book

The task of making great music requires the integration and development of both the mind and the body working together, with the body perceiving and adjusting to what is made real to it by the mind. Neither of these two elements is more important than the other, and they must be trained to work together in a balanced and holistic way. Among other things, the mind allows us toanalyze the structure and harmony of music and understand its style and character; of course, it also allows us to learn and memorize it. The body formsthe framework by which we can put what is in our minds into physical reality. It is only through the assimilation of these two areas that we can reach our greatest potential as performers of music.Our technique must be trained through practice so we can attain the highest level of kinesthetic ability, but ultimately it functions as the means to an end rather than an end in itself. Great artists evoke the meaning and depth in every piece in their repertoire through coordination and integration, finding new ways to illuminate and capture the essence of each work with every performance.

ESPN sports anchor and host Lindsay Czarniak podcast Players with Lindsay Czarniak began airing October 2018.  

Listen to her brief introduction to the concept of her podcast.

“In an intimate one-on-one setting, Lindsay Czarniak invites her guests, who also happen to be the biggest “players” in country music, to reflect on perhaps the only thing as important to them as music…sports! Join Lindsay as she leads her guests in conversation about the significance of sports in their lives and how that has impacted their personal journey, revealing more about the passions, motivations, and inspirations behind these artists”.

Reviewing the above sources, and others, we can find some commonalities that tie in with Blooms to Blossoms purpose.

Music & Sport
Social & IntegrativeTeamwork include aspirations of sharing common goals with      others, performing well in front of others, and for friendship and socialization with people of like interests. 
Self-EsteemExperience positive feelings about self, provides achievable goals—musical or athletic—that also contributed to feelings of personal satisfaction and well-being. 

Kinesthetic AwarenessSatisfy the need for physical movement or contact, and the development or refinement of physical and technical skills. It appears that both student musicians and student athletes appear to value and need the physical aspects of their chosen activity. 

Self-EfficacyMusicians and athletes share in the notion that they are talented and possess the necessary skills to succeed in music and in sports. The analyses of these statements indicate a preference for one’s own personal proficiency and ability to help oneself during any activity.

Health and wellness of musicians is becoming a salient topic. The recognition that performers are athletes creates opportunities to draw from the research ideas for training and education that extend beyond music making.  Not only could the performance level and ability improve but overall health of a musician improves.  Ideas explored translate to professional musicians, and those involved in recreational music making.

I have shared a variety of sources this week.  I hope you find some items of interest to you.  Crossing boundaries of music and sports touches many lives.  I encourage you to share this blog and these sources with others.