The Tao of Sports


INSTRUCTOR: Joseph Lichter


SCHEDULE: Monday, Wednesday 12:30pm – 1:45pm

Course Description

In the “The Tao of Sports”, students analyze the unique and popular human experience called sports particularly by examining them through a lens of physical and social sciences. What this means is that the course investigates biology, chemistry and physics underlying sports and exercise while simultaneously investigating social, political, and even religious elements of sports. We will be looking not just at what is happening currently in the world of sports but looking historically which will allow us to also possibly predict future directions.

In terms of physical sciences, students can expect to spend time looking at exercise physiology, exercise metabolism, nutrition, genetics, performance enhancing drugs, types of injuries and even the Newtonian mechanics behind motion of runners, basketballs and cars.

In terms of social sciences, we cover gender, age, race, economics, deviance and violence in sports with particular examination of the recent events from kneeling during the national anthem, COVID-19 changes, college sports and the risks, and how sports in general fits with our modern zeitgeist.

As a certified triathlon coach, I devote a portion of the course to having students complete a 10 km (6.2 miles) run and develop training plans, strategies, discuss their ebbs and flows and more. This has proven to be one of the most well received assignments as it not only helps to experience some of what we study but it also has functioned as a motivational factor for many of the students as well.

Students will learn to:

  • Explain the physical phenomena behind their most favorite sports, using equations, diagrams, and scientific principles
  • Evaluate the social phenomena seen in sports including political influence, communal gatherings, and the culture surrounding it
  • Think about data that is important to sports and athletes, with a potential to anticipate and/or develop applications for athletes providing such information.
  • See the parallels between sports and religion
  • Look at their own athleticism/sports interest with new perspective