The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr.28)
The number of universities that have established sports-related faculties and departments has jumped in recent years, with 63 such faculties operating in fiscal 2008, up from just seven in fiscal 2000, according to a survey conducted by Hirohide Nagayoshi, president of Osaka University of Health and Sport Sciences.
The boom is spreading. This month, Hosei University established its Faculty of Sports and Health Studies.
Sports-related faculties and departments formerly were considered to be organizations mainly to train teachers to teach the subject of health and physical education.
But the departments cover various fields these days–Tokai University, for example, has a Department of Physical Recreation, and Juntendo University and others have Sports Management departments.
Last year, Rikkyo University set up its Department of Sports and Wellness, aimed at capitalizing on the growing health-consciousness among the public, and Doshisha University established its Health and Sports Science Department.
Commenting on the trend, Nagayoshi, 62, pointed out that attitudes in society toward sports have changed, with more people keen to exercise regularly to maintain their health in an aging society.
Also, as community-based leagues for such sports as soccer and basketball have been established, human resources to run management organizations have become needed. In a nutshell, there is a demand that is a function of the times.
Opening a sports-related faculty has attractive benefits for universities. Waseda University, which opened its School of Sport Sciences in 2003, gained prestige because famous athletes, including table tennis player Ai Fukuhara, entered the school.
A professor in physical education at a famous private university in Tokyo said: “PR is a big deal for universities, which are engaged in a tough battle for survival. Many universities appear to have woken up to the opportunities [presented by opening sports departments].”
From the perspective of students, their studying at such faculties could give them an edge when it comes to looking for a job.