Two phrases that to this day are still very misunderstood, both by people who are not involved in either conducting or learning about sport science, and, more worryingly, those who are. There are a few reasons for this; first of all, sport science is a very young discipline. Whilst it has its roots in the study of human physiology in general, it has only been a standalone area of research (in Britain at least) for about 60 years, and has only been a viable profession for the past 25 years. Secondly, because many people watch sport or take part in exercise, there’s a tendency for people to think that it’s not a real science, as ‘anyone can do it’.
Of course, this kind of thinking can’t really be affected by us, much in the same way that lay people who don’t believe in climate change can’t really be affected by climate scientists. Besides, the aim of this blog post is to discuss whether or not people working in sports and exercise are ‘scientists’, and what this term actually means anyway.
Now I, like many others before me and since, decided to study the sport sciences at undergraduate level because I like playing sport and I enjoyed learning about the topic at A Level. I knew that it could be split into the general categories of anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, nutrition, psychology, training methods, etc., but I didn’t really have an appreciation for what the ‘sciences’ bit of the phrase actually meant. I thought, “well, it’s got some biology in there, a bit of chemistry, erm….so it must be a science!”. It took me a loooooong time to fully appreciate that science is actually a method employed to better understand nature through the use of controlled experiments to collect data which either supports or degrades assumptions about a particular phenomena: