Learning is a hop, skip and jump for sports management students

18 August 2008

Time out: Kanya Mdaka (standing) and Luke Smit, students studying towards the Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management, check the clock at the 2008 FISAC World Rope Skipping Championships.

The recent International Rope Skipping Federation World Rope Skipping Championships held in the Mother City were an eye-opener for at least one group of UCT students.

Being part of the organisation and running of the champs is all part of experiential learning for participants in the Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management, said course convenor David Maralack.

The biennial championships featured participants from 19 countries, including defending men's champs, Belgium, and women's champs, Hungary.

Rope skipping was first introduced as a South African sports code in 2002, and has since attracted thousands as a mass-participation sport in schools across the country.

But what did the students learn? BCom graduate Luke Smit said practical experience had been limited during his years of study.

"Being able to see the theory in action is vital for me to get an understanding of how and where particular theoretical models and scenarios are applied. Without the practical application you cannot get a feel for the added people dynamic of sports management."

Sports science graduate Rob Hichens agrees: "The only way theory can be truly understood is for it to be tried, tested and experienced in the real world, under real conditions."

Kanya Mdaka, a BSocSc graduate, added: "Commercialisation has resulted in sport being run in a more professional manner but the academic discipline of sport is still lagging behind, as it is mostly focused on the exercise and science part without much concern for administration. This focus on business is what differentiates this course."

BSc graduate Phillip Mkorongo said participation in the champs had given him valuable insight.

"The sporting world in South Africa needs more individuals with a firm understanding of the issues that face the industry and have the skills and tools to tackle these."

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