A Symposium on the Diversity of Baseball

I recently attended two of the ‘sports in the university’ theme semester events and they were vastly different despite their obvious common theme. The first was a symposium on diversity in kinesiology and the second discussed physics in baseball. Both of these show the diversity we as a university have to impose in order the strengthen our academia through allies at other universities (something Hobbes would definitely approve of). 

The Kinesiology Building at The University of Michigan

The diversity in kinesiology symposium had four different speakers from national historically black colleges and universities speaking to discuss how greater diversity in the studiers and the subject matter related and unrelated to kinesiology would be beneficial. I will focus on one speaker. Dr. Rennae Williams from Johnson C. Smith University focused on the underrepresentation of women and ethnic minorities among faculty and staff in sports management. She asserted that cross-cultural emersion would be beneficial for sports management because minorities have different and valid views due to cultural bias. The lack of diversity in the demographics of sports management goes on to limit itself because a prospective student will be less likely to apply if they are not represented. Dr. Williams revealed that 80% of the National Athletic Trainers Association is white. Dr. Vernon Bond revealed how this demography could be detrimental to scientific progress and breadth by suggesting newfound differences in physicality between races. One of his medical studies revealed that black women burn fewer calories when doing the same amount of physical activity as the other races. Studies and not just the staff in kinesiology often miss the effects diversity can have on physiology.

Physics in Baseball presented by Timothy Chupp was incredibly different to the aforementioned symposium. Timothy Chupp emulated Bill Nye as he used demonstrations to show the prevalent physics at work in baseball. One of these hands-on trials was demonstrated with a yardstick. One partner would drop a yardstick and the other would catch it as quickly as possible to demonstrate the response time needed in baseball. Chupp broke this response time into: visual response, brain to fingers understanding, and the muscle strength needed to catch it. He also dallied on the forces at work on a baseball; such as: gravity, friction, viscosity, and elasticity.

These lectures were virtually unrelated to each other except for the tie between sports and the university. However, one tiny and unsubstantial physics demonstration bound the two conventions in my mind. Chupp at one point dropped a basketball and tennis ball at the same with the basketball starting below the tennis ball. The tennis ball hit the basketball just after the basketball hit the floor and the elasticity of this propelled the tennis ball much higher than it would have bounced on its own. It seems to me that this principle is also visible in the kinesiology department: more diversity (or more different bouncing balls) would lead to the department and the university reaching new heights. This concept seems cliché and corny but I also feel that it is valid. Some of the same principles we can see in physics could help the University of Michigan’s infrastructure and strengthen the sports in the university overall. Interaction with other universities (such as the historically black colleges represented at the symposium) could also yield the same collegiate and societal growth.

 All of us would benefit overall from the added diversity and cooperation between units in not just the School of Kinesiology but campus wide and on the intercollegiate scale and yet it is still lacking. This is because free-riding on previous systems of isolation sometimes seems easier and is more convenient. The interaction between the University of Michigan and historically black universities in the past has been minimal because not making the efforts to expand with each other is easier and less expensive in the short-term than creating long-term study programs that benefit society as a whole. The harsh reality is that free-riding and low levels of conversation has minimal risks and rewards. Hobbes asserted that breaking a covenant is foolish because it limits allies; working in cooperation with other universities is in this case the rational action to take because our goal as an institution is long-term. Hobbes put such great weight on covenants because he believed they were synonymous with self-preservation and that allies were necessary for survival. New allies and future partners to improve the university (sports programs and otherwise) are much more important than conforming to old standards just because they are familiar. We should replicate the Symposium on Diversity in Kinesiology in the physics department, athletics, engineering, etc. and garner more voices/viewpoints/minds to increase whats being researched and have a greater global impact.