Major Obstacles; How Wii Can Help

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January 2007
Fast News
Major Obstacles NCAA Division I student-athletes seem to enjoy the best of both the academic and athletic worlds. But their so-called free ride doesn't offer as much liberty as many people might think. According to a study released at this month's NCAA Convention, nearly a third of 2,077 Division I football and men's basketball players say their participation in athletics has prevented them from pursuing their preferred academic major.

Although the survey neglected to ask student-athletes why they didn't pursue their desired major, its results raise questions about whether college sports' academic reform movement has done enough to ensure that athletics administrators give student-athletes sufficient opportunity to be students first and athletes second.

Most of the college football and men's basketball players surveyed said they didn't regret their major. Yet, 57 percent of men's basketball players and 64 percent of football players said they'd prefer to spend more time on academics. In addition, more than two-thirds of them said their grade-point average would be higher if they weren't competing in their sport.

NCAA President Myles Brand defended the survey numbers, comparing the academic choices made by student-athletes with those of non-student-athletes. "Everyone doesn't get in this world to do everything they want to," he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "A lot of students don't get the major they want because they have to work after school. ... Many find they can't do science majors that require an enormous amount of time in the lab because they've got to wait tables. What we get is student-athletes trading off having an athletic scholarship for not having to work 20 or 40 hours a week."

How Wii Can Help Children spend an average of eight hours a day in front of a TV screen, either watching TV or playing video games. That said, it's clear the fitness industry faces an uphill battle in getting kids to engage in more physical activity.

Youth fitness advocates may consider embracing a group of unlikely allies - video game manufacturers. According to a new Mayo Clinic study, children can get as good of a workout playing interactive games as they can by treadmill walking.

The Mayo researchers measured the amount of energy expended by 25 children (10 of whom were mildly obese) in five states of activity. When the children played a video game using a camera to control the action - games tested included the EyeToy-compatible Nicktoons Movin' and Microsoft Xbox's Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 2 - they burned three times as many calories as they did while sitting. Moreover, the obese children used six times as much energy while playing DDR and five times as much energy when playing Movin' - the same amount they expended by treadmill walking.

Its results published in this month's Pediatrics journal, the study was completed before the November debut of Nintendo's Wii system - on which players use a motion-sensitive wireless controller to simulate movements common to a variety of sports, including swinging, throwing and rolling.

Acknowledging the small size of their test group, the researchers claimed their findings are sufficient to warrant further studies in randomized trials. "Even though we might want children to be outside and engaged in more traditional children's play, I don't think that children are going to abandon video games anytime soon," Mayo obesity researcher Lorraine Lanningham-Foster told GameSpot.com. "It's important to look at it this way because video gaming may potentially be a better way for obesity researchers to develop better interventions for children."

In the Field
Company News
  • Amy Fouty, athletic turf manager for Michigan State University's Spartan Stadium, has been appointed to the Sports Turf Managers Association's Board of Directors.
  • Aquatic Development Group Inc. (Cohoes, N.Y.) announced the addition of Dave Keim as vice president, sales and marketing.
  • Nautilus Inc. (Vancouver, Wash.) announced a partnership with the National Academy of Sports Medicine to provide research, training and education programs.
  • The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association has partnered with the Asian Academy of Sports and Fitness Professionals to jointly promote the health and fitness industry in China and Singapore.
  • Advantage Fitness Products (Los Angeles, Calif.) is now the official fitness consultant for University of Southern California recreational sports.
  • The American College of Sports Medicine's 11th Annual Health and Fitness Summit and Exposition will be held at Adam's Mark Hotel in Dallas on March 21-24, 2007.

Want to see your name in lights? Send press releases and news to our Web Editor for consideration: webeditor@athleticbusiness.com

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Don't Miss This
In our next issue: The 2007 Buyers Guide will put contact information for hundreds of manufacturers, architects, consultants and associations in your hands.

Subscribe to Athletic Business magazine.

Did You Miss This?
In our current issue: The January issue honors the winners of the 7th annual Excellence in Youth Sports Awards, sponsored by Athletic Business and the National Alliance for Youth Sports.

Read Recognizing Outstanding Youth Sports Programs.

And the Survey Said
In response to last month's Quick Question, an overwhelming majority of you agree that homeless squatters should be evicted from public parks and efforts should be made to refer them to appropriate social services.

Complete Results: Homelessness is admittedly an uncomfortable topic. Nevertheless, in many cities parks officials must deal with the issue head-on, particularly when homeless people make parks their abode. What is the best way to handle squatters in public parks?

  • Ignore them: 0%
  • Evict them: 8%
  • Restrict their encampments to designated areas: 8%
  • Evict them, but also help them find housing and essential social services: 84%
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