Gordon in the News: last updated 10/24/2008

New Sports Studies Minor Attracts All Majors

August 21, 2008

Calen Rubin
Office of College Communications

WENHAM, MA--Students from all majors are expected to take note of the Recreation and Leisure Studies Department's newest addition--a sport study minor and concentration. Dr. Valerie Gin, the department's chair, has worked on the idea of a sports concentration and minor that could link with and better serve other majors beyond recreation and leisure studies. With the newly approved minor, students will gain a broad perspective of the interdisciplinary nature of sport under Gin's direction. The minor will also help prepare students for a wide range of careers in the fast-growing sports industry. While many schools in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) offer studies in physical education, Gordon College stands alone in offering a specific sport studies concentration and minor.

Sport studies, the study of sport from psychological, sociological, historical, and philosophical perspectives, aims to provide practical knowledge and application of sport while linking with other areas of study. Gin was intentional in keeping it a minor, as she wanted students to integrate it with their majors, rather than use it as a replacement. Students interested in sport management, for example, "would be served best by combining a business administration major with the sport studies minor," says Gin.

Students who minor in sport studies are not the only ones who will benefit from this new addition. There are several relevant electives for students involved in athletics. "We're offering Sport Psychology for the first time this coming semester," Gin says. "This is a great elective for athletes, to help with mental preparation, self-confidence, and understanding teammates and the game a lot better."

Other courses in the minor will include Sport Sociology, History and Philosophy of Sport, Philosophy and Theories of Coaching, and Introduction to Sport and Recreation Management. Students will also be required to choose one of three recreation and leisure theory courses. The Philosophy and Theories of Coaching course is already in the curriculum, and one class toward the minor will be added each semester, although the official minor will not appear in the academic catalog until 2009.

Careers available to students completing the minor include sports administration, sports journalism, and sports media. Students may employ the minor in areas of graduate study such as sports psychology, sports medicine, and sports law. Courses such as Introduction to Sport and Recreation Management seek to provide basic competency in planning, leading, and organizing--skills often utilized by sport and recreation managers.

Apart from the minor, Gin has been working to create a more interdisciplinary department by inviting professors from other departments to share their expertise in sports. She says, "I think my colleagues get it; they realize how important leisure is. David Lee from physics taught fly-fishing, and half the class was probably his physics majors. How cool is that, to be able to fly fish with your physics professor?"

Other Gordon faculty and staff members have joined in as well: Paula Cerulli, the provost's administrative assistant, teaches a ballet class. Ming Zheng, a biology professor, teaches badminton. Stan Reczek from physics teaches canoeing. Barry Loy, the dean of students, teaches golf. Gin explains, "And he isn't just getting out there to golf. Barry's an excellent golfer and he's an excellent golf instructor. I think in subtle but very obvious ways we're trying to model for our students that, yes, we want you to focus on your studies, but the fullness of life means all aspects of life."

The sport studies minor exemplifies interdisciplinary study in that the Recreation and Leisure Studies Department has worked hard to integrate sport with other departments who are called on to share their knowledge and expertise. Gin met with the chairs of each of the Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, and History Departments and asked for their input on the proposed sport studies syllabus. "I think people see the potential," she says. "Faculty members see the marriage that their majors can have."

For information, or to request an interview, please contact the Office of College Communications at 978.867.4037.


Gordon College is a Christian college of the liberal arts and sciences on Boston's North Shore. The college offers majors in 37 fields and has graduate programs in education and music education. Leading the way in Christian college merit, Gordon is nationally ranked for its excellence in academics and its role in character building. These achievements recognize Gordon as one of the nation's top Christian colleges.