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Students, Embrace ALL Your Opportunities

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By Tom Tallach, Ed. D. |

I’d like to offer some advice, at least something to consider, to current and future students in sport education.  Really, this applies to everyone seeking a “higher education” and “upward mobility” in sport-related professions.  Is a traditional “higher education” worth it or even necessary?  That, of course, depends on the specific job requirements, industry standards, and other factors.  My intent here is not to suggest alternative preparatory pathways into sport professions or to make a value proposition on behalf of colleges and universities.  This is for those individuals and families who have chosen to invest their precious time and resources into higher education.  It’s fairly common for me to hear students and parents talk about getting the basics out of the way.  They are referring to the general education requirements, the liberal arts/sciences “core” required of all students at most colleges and universities (typically history, creative arts, life/physical science, social & behavioral science, etc.).  The inference is that they can then focus on that which is, in their minds, important.  While the courses in the academic major certainly are important, to dismiss or discount the value of the other courses is, in my opinion, an opportunity lost.  I’d like to offer a different way of thinking about the required liberal arts/sciences portion of the degree programs.  This way of thinking is rooted in pragmatism and self-centeredness.  It’s about asking “What’s in it for me?”

It can be said that all we as humans really have is time.  Most people’s time can be divided into three major parts, the time we are asleep, the time we are doing that which we “have” to do (vocation), and the time we are doing things that we “want” to do (for simplicity, let’s call this “me time”).  While this perspective certainly applies to vocations as well, let’s focus on the “me time”.  Most of us believe that what gives life meaning is the way we connect with our environment.  If that is the case, then one’s awareness, understanding, and appreciation of these other people and things matters in regards to the meaning in one’s life.  The more we can be aware of, understand, and appreciate our social, natural, and cultural environments, the richer the connections and, hence, the greater the meaning.  I know there is a sense of urgency to get started ‘making a living’ but don’t forget about ‘living your life’.  The opportunity to engage the liberal arts/sciences in a community of teachers and learners, many of whom have very different backgrounds and perspectives, should not be underestimated or de-valued.  It’s an awesome opportunity that provides a return-on-investment in the form of richer and more satisfying “me time” throughout a lifetime.  I’m grateful that I had the opportunity and know that I have benefitted both personally and professionally as a result of the experience. 

Dr. Tom Tallach serves as the head of the Department of Sport Science in the School of Kinesiology at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas.  He is a former college and high school athletics administrator with over three decades of experience in sport-related fields.

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