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Stories | 04.30.24

Cultural competency in sports: Course challenges students to discuss today’s most significant topics

This is Adler series logoEditor’s note: Adler University offers a variety of unique learning experiences that train socially responsible practitioners across its three campuses. This is Adler is a monthly series highlighting these unique programs, courses, and people educating tomorrow’s advocates.

Can you say you don’t want transwomen in female sports while still proclaiming you support them?

How would you handle a situation where a player reports inappropriate behavior but heavily urges it not to be reported?

Why do we separate the Olympics and the Paralympics?

For eight weeks during the summer term, students in the Contemporary Issues in Cultural Sport Psychology course will discuss, debate, and deliberate some of the most pressing issues in sports today.

The objective: to help students — many of whom are future performance consultants — become more culturally competent and better understand how systemic issues may affect an athlete or performer.

“By becoming more culturally aware and competent, it gives our students a leg up when interacting with athletes and performers who have different intersecting identities that they may or may not have as practitioners,” said Terilyn Shigeno, Ph.D., who teaches the course.

“Cultural awareness is important — and necessary — for future performance consultants because athletes and other performers are really diverse people,” she added. “This includes race, ethnicity, sexuality, sexual orientation, age, religion and spirituality, size, disability, among others that intersect with one another.”

Offered only during the summer term, students are asked to submit discussion questions that will guide the class discussion over eight weeks — amid several major events in the sports world, including the NBA and Stanley Cup finals, baseball season, Wimbledon, and the Paris 2024 Olympics. The course is required for students in the Master of Science in Sport and Human Performance (MSHP) program.

“But I believe any student interested in how cultural systems impact individuals, in this case, athletes and performers, I encourage them to take it as an elective,” said Dr. Shigeno. “Being a discussions-based course makes this unique within the MSHP program. It allows students to co-create knowledge, giving them a different experience during their graduate program.”

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