This would require an accrediting association for degrees in sports performance composed of representatives from the strong academic fields of sports management, kinesiology, business, and music performance; participation by representatives of regional accreditation agencies; and most likely engagement with the NCAA, especially using faculty athletic representatives and perhaps a designated presidential member.
Periodic reviews of sports performance programs with accreditation upheld or denied, the establishment of models and norms for the organization and structure of the sports performance degree, and continuing engagement with the professional world of sports would all be part of the sports degree accreditation system.
The only difference here is to have the opportunity to seek a sports performance degree.
To gain the confidence of our colleagues, we would need to ensure that the sports major achieves academic integrity.
This is a significant omission, for as we all know, sports is big business.
It is one of America's major entertainment industries, and surely rivals orchestras, theaters, operas and movies as professional post-college employment venues.The athletic department in collaboration with the university's academic affairs office and in compliance with accreditation expectations, would develop standards for performance instruction.The university faculty, through its normal process, would determine the appropriate credit to be granted for particular instructional and performance activity.Along with the establishment of the rigorous program for an academic degree, universities would need to create opportunities for students to move easily from college to professional performance whenever it appears appropriate.If a student in opera performance tried out for the Metropolitan Opera and was selected to become part of that organization, they would surely leave the university degree program and begin their professional career immediately, and we would celebrate that departure as a recognition of our ability to identify talent, train professionals, and launch a career, even if with an incomplete degree.One only needs to observe the increasingly sophisticated methods and techniques required of baseball and football players, or the careful analysis that goes into learning golf techniques or tennis strategy, to understand that we should provide our students interested in sports performance with similar opportunities to those we provide students seeking a career as a violinist or operatic tenor.To be sure, academic programs in music, or theater, or dance with courses in theory and history, as well as performance, have been with us for a long time, and have well-established traditions and curriculums.The first step is to recognize that sports as an extracurricular activity already exists in the university through elaborate systems of intramural and recreational sports, and as well through club sports that play competitions in nonprofessional contexts with other universities.But for those students seeking a career in sports performance, the requirements for a degree would need to be carefully structured and clearly specified.Some participate as performers; others with a performance background in college athletics move into management, coaching, and other professional roles related to sports.The skills of sports performance are nontrivial and currently have highly specialized training and study required to perform them well, and most professional athletes acquire sophisticated training and understanding of their games to ensure a successful career.