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Grade level: 6-8 Subject: Human Body Duration: One class period to introduce
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Sports Participation

Students will understand the following:
1. Statistics about sports participation can be found in references such as theStatistical Abstract of the United Statesand in other printed sources as well as on the Web.
2. Statistics taken from reference sources must be correctly attributed in a student’s report that cites them.

For this lesson, you will need:
Computer with Internet access
Library reference materials such as theStatistical Abstract of the United States

1. This activity builds on students’ interest in sports to give them practice in locating, working with, and interpreting statistical data. Begin by asking students to make a list of the 10 sports that the highest number of Americans participated in on an amateur or school/college basis—that is, not on a professional basis—last year. You might further challenge their estimating abilities by asking students to rank the 10 sports they listed from highest to lowest participation.
2. Next, have your students discuss how their lists are similar to and different from each other. Ask students to consider the following questions: Why are the lists similar? What accounts for differences among the lists?
3. Ask students if they know where they could find reliable statistics against which to check their guesses. If students draw a blank, suggest the following two sources, but ask them to find out if there are other similar sources available in the library or on the Web:
  • Statistical Abstract of the United States—a reference source published annually and available in many average-size libraries and all research libraries
  • Web site of the National Sporting Goods Association, especially the following page:nsga
4. Give students a due date for returning with a report in which they comment on the accuracy or inaccuracy of their individual predictions. The students must include in their reports their original lists of the 10 sports with most amateur participants in the United States for last year (perhaps ranked) and statistics for last year or for the most recent year included in one of the two sources listed above or in comparable sources that they find on their own.
5. Before sending students off to do research, remind them that since they are using sources in their reports they must acknowledge sources—in the paper proper, either parenthetically or beneath a table that they include; and at the end of the paper in a bibliography. Go over the documentation system recommended by your school, or consider using the Modern Language Association’s most recent style manual, available in print and online atmla.
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Ask older students to comment also on how the sources gather statistics about amateur sports participation. What do the Statistical Abstract of the United States and various Web sites say about how these sources arrive at the statistics they dispense?
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Discussion Questions

1. Debate whether children should be encouraged to compete as athletes at the national and international levels. What are the advantages and disadvantages of training and competing at a young age?
2. Select an Olympic event to study from the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. Use the internet to examine trends among athletes of different countries in that event. What are the maximum, minimum and median ages of the participants? What are their hobbies? What do competitive athletes do after they have "aged-out" of their event?
3. Consider a bionic person. Select an Olympic event in which the bionic person will participate. Explain which organs, tissues and muscle groups would likely be utilized most in this event. How could these parts be manufactured? State the benefits and drawbacks of entering a bionic person into a competition with non-bionic people.
4. Discuss the athlete's role in society. Consider the factors of supply and demand to explain the high salaries and fame of many contemporary athletes.
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You can evaluate your students’ written reports using the following three-point rubric:
Three points:highly coherent and unified report with clearly stated and supported thesis statement; statistics intelligently integrated in report and documented correctly; no errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
Two points:mostly coherent and unified report with thesis statement minimally supported; statistics included in report and documented mostly correctly; some errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
One point:report lacks coherence, unity, and thesis statement; statistics included but not documented correctly; many errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics
You can ask students to contribute to the assessment rubric by determining the criteria for a thesis statement.
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To Play or Not to Play
Have teams debate whether students with poor grades should be allowed to participate in athletic competition at school.

Community Survey
Have students conduct a poll in the community to find out if people expect college and professional athletes to be role models. Make sure students note the age and gender of the people they poll, presenting the findings by those categories.

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Suggested Readings

Sports Lab: How Science Has Changed Sports
Robert Sheely, Silver Moon Press, 1994
Through accounts of famous athletes' actual experiences, we learn about the impact of modern sports technology, including sports medicine and equipment design, on athletic performance.

"Are Athletes Nearing the Limit?"
Barbara Huebner, Boston Globe, August 19, 1996
This article examines the question, "To what extent can we expect modern sports training methods and technologies to extend athletic performance?"

Coaching Evelyn: Fast, Faster, Fastest Woman in the World
Pat Connolly, HarperCollins, 1991
This biography of Evelyn Ashford by her coach offers an inside look at the daily regimen of training by a championship runner.

The Worst Day I Ever Had
Fred McMane and Cathrine Wolf, Little, Brown & Co., 1991
This book covers the successful responses of athletes to disappointment, with advice offered to young people in the accounts of 13 famous athletes, including Martina Navratilova and Magic Johnson.

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This "webzine" offers visitor news about the events, people, and places in the worlds of sport and exercise science.

Gatorade Sports Science Institute
This home page provides information for individuals interested in the fields of sports medicine, sports nutrition, and exercise science.

CSU Chico Athletic Training
Within this site are downloadable lessons on tissue repair, rehabilitation, muscle testing and others.

Olympic Gymnast - Shannon Miller
A profile of an Olympic gymnast, Shannon Miller.

Olympics at Augusta
Take a look back at all the training that centered in Augusta and around the CSRA, where the highest concentration of athletes and coaches trained for the '96 Summer Games.

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Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    acknowledge (audio not available)
Definition:To tell a reader that information in a piece of writing comes from another source and to name that source.
Context:The honest action is to acknowledge where an idea comes from instead of pretending it is original with you.

speaker    bionic (audio not available)
Definition:Related to the replacement of limbs and other parts of a human body with electronic and mechanical parts.
Context:You used to read about the strength and endurance of bionic men and women in science fiction, but soon you will read about bionics in the daily newspaper.

speaker    data (audio not available)
Definition:Information, or facts.
Context:You cannot win an argument without backing up your opinion with supporting data.

speaker    reliable (audio not available)
Definition:Trustworthy or dependable.
Context:You cannot trust just any source; you must seek out reliable sources of information.

speaker    statistics (audio not available)
Definition:A fact or piece of information expressed as a number or percentage.
Context:Both the sports pages and the financial pages of a newspaper are full of statistics.

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This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level:6-8
Subject area:physical education
Understands the benefits and costs associated with participation in physical activity.
Understands long-term physiological benefits of regular participation in physical activity (e.g., improved cardiovascular and muscular strength, improved flexibility and body composition).

Grade level:6-8
Subject area:physical education
Understands the benefits and costs associated with participation in physical activity.
Understands long-term psychological benefits of regular participation in physical activity (e.g., healthy self-image, stress reduction, strong mental and emotional health).

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:physical education
Understands the benefits and costs associated with participation in physical activity.
Understands factors that impact the ability to participate in physical activity (e.g., type of activity, cost, available facilities, equipment required, personnel involved).

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:physical education
Understands the benefits and costs associated with participation in physical activity.
Understands how various factors (e.g., age, gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and culture) affect physical activity preferences and participation.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:physical education
Understands the benefits and costs associated with participation in physical activity.
Understands the potentially dangerous consequences and outcomes from participation in physical activity (e.g., physical injury, potential conflicts with others).

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:physical education
Understands the social and personal responsibility associated with participation in physical activity.
Understands the role of sports in a diverse world (e.g., the influence of professional sports in society, the usefulness of dance as an expression of multiculturalism, the effect of age and gender on sports participation patterns).

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Eugene Molesky, science teacher, Ridgeview Middle School, Mt. Airy, Maryland.
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