As Eagle Rock’s adjunct athletics coordinator, Jocelyn Rodriguez wears many (sports) hats, ranging from managing the school’s basketball program to heading our Sports Challenge partnership with Strive at Haverford College. Most recently, Rodriguez taught a unique class called Changing the Game, where her students focused on what it means to be a coach in the atmosphere of today’s professional sports.
Specifically, the five-week class addressed how gender, race, and power, and even social media have influenced sports in the United States every bit as much as talent and collective bargaining between players and the team owners. Rodriguez’ students explored the unspoken rules and reality of professional sports by looking at the history and changes that many of our most popular sports are undergoing.
Students learned about the successes of female coaches, including Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs (NBA) and Katie Sowers of the San Francisco 49ers (NFL), both of whom battled to become staff coaches in a sport formerly designated for “men only.” And they examined the social and political effects of historic sports moments, like the impact of the OJ Simpson trial and the debate about the potential compensation of student-athletes who compete under the watchful eye of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Many athletes were discussed as part of this study of the confluence of sports and power, including tennis player Serena Williams, baseball player Jackie Robinson, and track and field athletes Jesse Owens, John Carlos, and Tommie Smith. Rodriguez shares that her class also explored the institutions of powers within the sports realm, including the NCAA and professional sport leagues like the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), and Major League Baseball (MLB).
Unfortunately, Rodriguez reports, the class ended just before the news cycle reported the NCAA has cleared the way for college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness. She says a future class might cover the college athlete endorsement deals, as well as related topics on how the college sports landscaping is evolving.
Each week, students were tasked with conducting research, completing assignments, and directing their own ERSPN Sports Center (the Eagle Rock version of ESPN) where they became sports analysts, discussing trending topics from throughout the week.
Finally, Rodriguez and her students decided to take a trip to Colorado Springs, Colo. in order to tour the U.S. Olympic Training Center, where they were able to gain a better understanding of the history of the Olympic Movement and Games and what it takes for athletes to train at the highest level.