The Way Forward II

Submitted by BlueDragon on May 21st, 2017 at 12:43 PM

Three years later, I have a follow-up to Brian's post The Way Forward ( written in response to remarks from President Mark Schlissel after his inauguration.


I thought about the possibility of using the music major model to create a football (-basketball, -softball, etc.) specific undergrad degree program for Michigan student athletes. While the recordings and portfolio are important, and the pre-screening recordings and/or audition are extremely important for admission, music majors get to be music majors because the academic fields that have grown up around the practice rooms are considered serious academic fields, with peer-reviewed papers, grants, and so forth. The trick to create a similar model is to figure out the academic fields that have grown up around college athletics, and make a degree program that fits them.


I have a somewhat unique perspective here, as a Michigan music major (performance, class of 2010) who retrained in pre-med, and am currently in medical school. I understand the talent-intensive and the academic-intensive sides of the coin. That being said, this diary is not a blueprint for action, it is a starting template for discussion.


Some ideas and their present-day equivalents:


Stadium/Team management (Pre-Business)

Manufacturing the protective gear (Pre-Med, Industrial Engineering, Pre-Business)

C-Suite Executive Stuff (Pre-Business)

**Becoming a high school football coach (Education, Pre-Business)

Becoming a trainer/doctor/other health care professional (Various Pre-med/Nursing/Physical Therapy core classes)


**asterisks because I think education is extremely valuable and we all do teaching in our lifelong journeys. Many skill sets can be honed through education and a multitude of classes tie into it.


Then we could look at the course by course requirements and tailor a degree concentration with the lion's share of the courses geared towards getting people thinking about the Gesamtkuntswerk of athletics, and how do we learn the skill sets to be successful in these areas.


With that in mind, let us expand our imaginations and try to think of academic requirements directly tying into athletics which are analogues of core requirements for Michigan music majors:


Academic Requirements for music majors (2006-2007)


Music Theory - 12 credit hours, over four semesters (Written and Aural Theory), plus a 3-credit 400-level Aural Theory.

    Coaching classes? Lots of shadowing in the community (but this could conflict with team time)?  **Psychology?  Business Management?


Musicology (History/Anthropology of Music)-  8 hours over 4 semesters (Intro, Post WWI, Middle Ages - Baroque, Preclassic Era - WWI)

    Relatively straightforward. History of sports, pro leagues, how the rules of your sport evolved, etc.


Large Ensemble (Symphony Band, University Symphony Orchestra) - every semester

    Being in good standing with the team in question? Business management type things?


Small Ensemble (General Chamber Music, Contemporary Directions Ensemble, Orchestral Repertoire) (2-3 semesters)

    Maybe here we could plug in working with the trainers, learning how to manage a stadium or a pro team. I'm thinking that we might have to combine large and small ensemble here in some way.


Performance - on your main instrument, weekly lessons plus weekly studio class 

    The Division I sport in question. The butt-busting college athletes do is self-evident



Non Music Requirements


English 124/125, 3 credits


Argumentative Writing, 3 credits


*15 credits of electives (AP/IB counts towards this)

    *We could add in more pre-business or pre-med courses to shore up the academic rigor, and reduce the electives allotment. Have em take Anatomy and learn how the body works!



Please, if you have ideas, criticisms, speak up and let us put our minds together and come up with a better idea than what I cooked up here. I may publish details of other music degree programs that I think could align well with athletics-specific requirements.


Thanks for your time.



May 21st, 2017 at 6:55 PM ^

How about some stats to show athletes how math is used in sports (coaching, mainly, but maybe in training, too).

I like this approach, but think that the target professions need to be examined and balanced with the actual sports load.  I am not sure that one could get enough practical experience in some of the health fields, for instance, with the time demands of some of the sports.  Maybe this is where graduate assistant terms could help, and the number of grad assistants greatly expanded to give more graduates that experience.


May 23rd, 2017 at 5:10 AM ^

Juste parce que quelque chose est naturel ne signifie pas qu'il est sécurisé.
Les plantes et les produits à base de plantes contiennent de nombreux composés bioactifs, ce qui pourrait nuire à votre santé dans certains cas. Les huiles essentielles ne sont pas différentes.
Toutefois, lors de l'inhalation ou de la combinaison avec une huile de base pour une utilisation sur votre peau, la plupart des huiles essentielles sont considérées comme sûres, elles risquent d'avoir des effets secondaires


May 27th, 2017 at 12:52 PM ^

It is not every day that a 67 year old with three degrees and 40 years of practice and teaching learns a new word.  This is very creative thinking that is not surprising coming from a music major.

I certainly see the connection between music as a performing art and sports as a performing art.  Those athletes that might want to be in sports management/business adminstration, coaching/teaching, sports journalism/creative writing, sports training/medicine or even public health in the areas of exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle or safety and injury prevention could seek a major in Sportsology with cross training in one or more of the above mentioned allied fields.  

U of M loves interdepartmental work as a rule and I would not be surprised if some faculty in those other areas would want to get together to create an interdisciplinary major out of sports related aspects of these different fields.  Such a major could be unique and might event be attractive to recruits in many different sports.


June 3rd, 2017 at 10:43 AM ^

Suggest in that the core courses include in addition to your list of writing, communication, history of sports and culture, also courses on basic human anatomy, physiology, kinesiology (roughly the study of human motion or activity), pedadogy (the science of teaching) in general and specifically as it applies to sports (individual and team). 

Basic mathematics especially statistics and economics. We keep score with numbers. We rate players by numbers and stats are kept for all sorts of categories - yet many people especially players and coaches really don't understand what they actually mean. 

Ultimately if an institution of higher learning can offer courses leading to a degree in performace music, art and drama, then sports should not be left out. People who devote their lives to the arts certainly have equally difficult lives as performers as athletes do, yet no one has called on the cessation of degree programs in music, arts and drama. 

For many sports is just a way to doing exercise, and have a bit of fun, but for others it is a big part of their social life and affects their whole culture and some a whole professional life as a player, coach or somehow otherwise part of the sports culture. Why not?

It will take a pretty bold president and dean because they'll have to weather a lot of scorn and derision from those who in and out of campus who just won't accept this change. They don't want to see that sports can be equivalent to their fields - yet the evidence is all around them every day, and most of all on home game Saturdays.

If implemented, it might actually curtail a lof of bogus degrees and make some kids appreciate where their talents really are best suited for.