INTER ACTION by pengxiang


                                                                                                                                           deep bench:
                                                                                                                                       thinking about
roger noll    Sepp Gumbrecht                               hank Greely                                  carol dweck
             INTER                                                          ACTION
                     o n e i n an occasi onal seri es of arti cl es about mul ti di sci pl i nary teachi ng an d re s e a rc h

                                                                                                                                                                           D E S I G N: A N N A C O B B / P H OTO S O F ATH L E TE S, C L O C K W I S E F R O M L E F T: H E CTO R G A R C I A-M O L I N A, KYL E TE R A D A, D A V I D G O N Z A L E S, D A N I E L H A R R I S, TO M V O

                                                                                                                                 November 19, 2008   STANForD reporT   9
      Stanford’S deep bench:

      thinking about
                    tanford was represented by more ath-
                    letes at the Beijing Olympics than any
                    other American university. A total of 48
                    enrolled and former students competed
                    for eight countries. They took home 25
                    medals; three hang around the necks of
                    current students, all women.
                       Here at home, the university has won
                    the NCAA Division I NACDA Direc-
      tors’ Cup so many times—every year for the last 14
      years—it’s like watching Bill Russell’s Celtics.
         All that brawn along with all those brains. Ac-
      cording to the Stanford model, both are essential, The Stanford model
      and if you don’t get in on your academic achieve-             Fans and critics among the professoriate agree
      ment, you don’t get in.                                    that college sports, especially at a school like Stan-
         On the academic side, Cardinal sports is more of ford, presents serious challenges, and not just on the
      an individual exercise than a team one. No huddles scoreboard.
      here. A few legal scholars, a couple of economists            “The greatest threat to the Stanford model is the
      and management folks, a psychologist, some scien- amount of time student athletes have to devote to
      tists, a priest and a few literary scholars all spend both sides of the model,” former Athletic Director
      some of their time pondering                                                      Ted Leland said soon before
      such questions as why it is so                                                    leaving Stanford after 14 years      often thought to be, the academic qualifications of
      thrilling to watch a ball sail                                                    of service. Officially, the Na-      scholarship athletes are generally less than that of
      between the goal posts, what         In her recent book, psychologist Carol tional Collegiate Athletic Asso-           the student body in general, and the qualities alleg-
      good can come of children be-                                                     ciation (NCAA) allows student        edly enhanced by sports programs (leadership, dis-
      ing sent to sports camps, why                 Dweck posits that an                athletes to practice 20 hours a      cipline, teamwork and so on) can be developed by
      people felt personally betrayed                                                   week. In fact, it’s usually double   other means, she writes.
      by Barry Bonds and why mon-              athlete’s mindset can be more            that, Leland said. “There’s a
      strosities such as Monster Park                                                   limit to what students can do.       The legacy of Title IX
      or Enron Field come into exis-          important than his or her talent.         How long can we continue?               There are two reasons why sports have become
      tence in the first place.                            4                            Students can’t do it all.”
                                                                                           If you ask Roger Noll, profes-
                                                                                                                             more prominent at elite schools in recent years, ac-
                                                                                                                             cording to Fried: the professionalization of sports
         Unlike other schools, Stan-
      ford offers no formal sports                                                      sor emeritus of economics and        and Title IX, the 1972 sex discrimination law best
      studies. You cannot become a                                                      a senior fellow at the Stanford      known for giving girls and women equal access to
      sports economist here. But still, scholars who confess Institute for Economic Policy Research, the colle-              federally funded school sports programs. The two
      to letting ungraded papers pile up as they watch a giate system can’t be fixed. One of the nation’s best-              phenomena are related. The numbers of girls play-
      late-season game go into extra innings find a way to known authorities on sports economics, he’s a sports              ing high school sports has multiplied at least tenfold
      let their inner fan meet their inner researcher. And enthusiast (Caltech basketball anyone?), frequent ad-             since 1972, and women today account for nearly half
      sports scholarship extends as widely as the academy; viser to some of the Cardinal’s top stars and consul-             of all college athletes. In 1993, Stanford announced
      academic sports journals feature articles on race, tant to professional players unions. His articles cover             it would aim for parity between men’s and women’s
      gender, municipal finance, performance theory, the such issues as stadium construction and professional                sports programs; it increased the number of scholar-
      media, nationalism and social behavior.                    baseball contraction. But he’s also deeply concerned        ships to female athletes as well as the coaching staff
         With all those top-ranked teams on the field (or about the NCAA.                                                    and the number of teams. The string of Directors’
      the court or the pool) and all those top-ranked schol-        “It’s the prisoner’s dilemma,” he said, referring        Cups started almost immediately thereafter.
      ars in the stands, the brains in the Athletics Depart- to the game theory problem regarding cooperation                   But Title IX also has brought problems. Fried be-
      ment thought it made sense to collaborate. So they and defection. “If you have 20 athletes all working                 lieves that women’s sports have embraced the “pro-
      hired the department’s first director of sports per- 20 hours a week to prepare, they’ll all compete. It               fessionalized male model of athletics.” While the
      formance, Brandon Marcello, an expert in nutrition doesn’t matter how much you practice, as long as ev-                number of female athletic scholarships is up, that
      and conditioning. His mission is to identify research eryone practices the same. Same with drugs. But the              causes the same well-known problems that male
      across the campus that bears on athletic perfor- fundamental problem is that in the absence of rig-                    scholarships do, Fried writes: “It is at least worth
      mance. He envisions collaboration with the School orously enforced rules, everyone pushes students to                  considering the possibility that feminists, looking
      of Medicine’s Center for Human Sleep Research and practice longer. The NCAA has a total lack of con-                   at the larger issues of women’s equality in the world
      the Stanford Center on Longevity. He has spoken cern for athletes. It’s a terrible organization.”                      beyond college, ought to regard this outcome as a
      to chemists about supplements and would love to               It’s terrible, he said, because, most obviously in       Pyrrhic victory.”
      work with law and psychology and dance professors. men’s football, “there is a payoff in violating the                    When Title IX was passed, 90 percent of coaches
      He is very enthusiastic about biologist Craig Heller’s rules.”                                                         of women’s college teams were women. By 2006, the
      Glove, an invention that lowers body temperature by           “I think Stanford should be worried about being          number was 42 percent. On average they are paid
      cooling blood as it passes through the hands. The associated with NCAA football; I love the game,                      half what men are paid. Women also have lost de-
      device can benefit soldiers, heart attack victims— but it’s so corrupt because there’s so much money at                partmental control of women’s collegiate sports pro-
      and overheated athletes.                                   stake,” Noll said.                                          grams. These are trends that disturb Deborah Rhode,
         Why do we love sports so much?                             Similar doubts infuse the work of legal scholar          the Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law and
         “They’re like the comics, about winning and los- Barbara Fried, the William W. and Gertrude H.                      founding director of Stanford’s Center on Ethics.
      ing,” ventures law Professor Hank Greely.                  Saunders Professor of Law, who is interested in dis-           In an article this year in the Stanford Journal of
         “We worship athletes,” said Joanne Sanders, as- tributive justice, the study of society’s allocation of             Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Rhode reports on
      sociate dean for religious life.                           economic benefits and burdens. As she outlined in           a nationwide survey of coaches and concludes that
         Because they’re beautiful, believes Hans Ulrich a recent article, “Punting Our Future: College Ath-                 gender bias, an old-boys network and work/fam-
      “Sepp” Gumbrecht, a professor of comparative lit- letics and Admissions” (Change, May/June 2007),                      ily conflicts are to blame for the paucity of female
      erature and of French and Italian.                         there is nothing just or sensible about setting aside       coaches. One of her co-organizers for a recent con-
         Others suggest sports contests remind us of sto- admissions slots for athletes at elite academic insti-             ference on Title IX, former Stanford track star and
      ries, with beginnings, middles and ends. Or they tutions. (She does not specifically address Stanford.)                cross-country coach Dena Evans, has written about
      provide us with an opportunity to live vicariously.        School athletics are not the revenue-builder they are       the incompatibility of being a top Division I coach

10   STANForD reporT             November 19, 2008
                                                                                                                                                                           ROB ERICSON

                                                                                                                   sport (a legal requirement), nor would his blades give
                                                                                                                   him an unfair advantage. As she said, “No able-bod-
                                                                                                                   ied athletes are considering amputation and prosthe-
                                                                                                                   ses to gain Pistorius’ ‘advantage.’”
                                                                                                                   Stanford and Athens
                                                                                                                       The intensity of these ethical conversations, par-
                                                                                                                   ticularly concerning doping, belies sports’ status
                                                                                                                   as a game. If our body is a temple, then our stadi-
                                                                                                                   ums can be cathedrals, and defilement is a serious
                                                                                                                   matter. “Fair play” dates from the era when sports
                                                                                                                   were about unassisted gentlemen on an even playing
                                                                                                                   field and when working at sports was disparaged.
                                                                                                                   The modern Olympics, with its celebration of ama-
                                                                                                                   teurism and false antiquity, were the invention of a
                                                                                                                   French aristocrat. Meanwhile, professional athletes
                                                                                                                   were drawn from the lower classes. Slowly, this vast
                                                                                                                   social gulf diminished, and at the same time what
                                                                                                                   Sepp Gumbrecht calls “health sports” began perme-
                                                                                                                   ating our society.
                                                                                                                       Gumbrecht, the Albert Guérard Professor in
                                                                                                                   Literature and a shameless devotee of the Cardi-
                                                                                                                   nal, has written a book, In Praise of Athletic Beauty,
                                                                                                                   which pays homage to his athletically and otherwise
                                                                                                                   gifted students by exploring the aesthetic experi-
                                                                                                                   ence of watching them. To quote the Boston Globe,
                                                                                                                   “To ground his argument, Gumbrecht turns to that
                                                                                                                   staple of sports bar disputation, Immanuel Kant’s
                                                                                                                   Critique of Judgment.” He is interested in the spec-
                                                         the world in some village in Nebraska or Africa, he’d     tator’s transcendence from individual to collectivity,
                                                         lose to a mediocre sprinter at a good NCAA school         the athlete’s transcendence into “the zone,” and the
                                                         who has training, good shoes, a sports psychologist       fascination and admiration of beautiful bodies doing
                                                         and access to video,” Greely said.                        remarkable things, performing “epiphanies of form
                                                             Why, for example, should medications that make        and of bodily grace.”
                                                         you go faster be off limits while space-age swimsuits         Some sports require the athlete to be intentional
                                                         are the darlings of the Olympics? How is it that          about creating beauty, Gumbrecht noted in an in-
                                                         sports like tennis and golf reach new levels thanks to    terview. Ice skating, diving and gymnastics are ex-
                                                         high-tech equipment while players can’t indulge in        amples. Others, like soccer, are beautiful to watch,
                                                         high-tech pharmacology? Nobody cared that Sartre          but if the striker thinks about being beautiful as he
                                                         wrote his late works while loaded on speed, or that       or she kicks a goal, the goal surely won’t get made.
                                                         a college professor drinks four cups of coffee before     And there is beauty, too, in that unconsciousness.
                                                         lecturing; why does it matter what an athlete does?           Gumbrecht, along with Roger Noll, helps recruit
                                                         Is neuro-enhancement cheating? What if there were         Stanford football players. It’s not easy to fill a full
                                                         a pill that helped students pass the bar exam?            roster of academically eligible players. Noll appeals
                                                             “I think the enhancement debate in sports is          to them by telling them they won’t have to spend all
                                                         a deceptive preamble to the debate on cognitive           their time with other athletes, like at some big state
                                                         and genetic enhancement in general,” Greely said.         schools; they’ll actually be able to live in a dorm and
                                                         Couching the doping dilemma in terms of health            go to normal classes. Gumbrecht tells them it’s really
                                                         and fairness does not get to the essential issues. Gene   hard here. Really, really hard. Not since ancient Ath-
                                                         therapy is on the horizon, and we are not prepared        ens, he says, have intellectual and physical pursuits
                                                         for the far-reaching neuro-ethical debates it will trig-  shone together so gloriously in one place. But it’s hard,
                                                         ger, he said.                                             he repeats. The recruits generally rise to the bait.
                                                             Greely also has written about sports in relation
                                                         to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). One Positive coaching
and being a mother. In a 2006 article in the Chron-      such article focused on the case of Casey Martin, the        We know about the steroids, the excessive pres-
icle of Higher Education, she called on athletics de-    disabled Stanford golfer who petitioned the PGA sure on young athletes, the financial shenanigans,
partments to follow academic departments’ lead in        Tour to be allowed to use a golf cart. Legal argu- the problems with the NCAA. But it’s impossible for
finding ways for women to achieve their career goals     ments revolved around the definition of unfair ad- most of us not to watch. Like Gumbrecht, we are in
with their families intact.                              vantage. The Supreme Court’s eventual ruling made awe. Therefore, other scholars say, let’s fix the prob-
                                                         it clear that almost all organized sports are subject to lems.
The ethics of enhancement                                the ADA, though it has become evident that cases             Psychologist Carol Dweck would like to start by
    Another angle on sports comes from Hank Greely,      like Martin’s will be rare.                               fixing coaching.
the Deane F. and Kate Edelman Johnson Professor              In a similar vein, one of Greely’s students, Patti       As she observed children as they learned, Dweck
of Law, whose principal concern (other than the          Zettler, a former Stanford                                                           developed her theor y of
historic injustice of the infamous 1982 Big Game)        lacrosse star who worked                                                             “mindset” (and wrote a book
is the ethical ramifications of physical and cognitive   in medical ethics before re-                                                         called Mindset). Children
enhancement, both in sports and beyond.                  turning to law school here,           Not since ancient Athens, says Sepp            (or athletes) with a “fixed
    “The arguments against steroids are all poorly       recently wrote a paper about                                                         mindset” believe they either
thought through,” he said. “They boil down to:           Oscar Pistorius, the South          Gumbrecht, not entirely tongue in cheek, have it or they don’t. Parents
They’re drugs, it means athletes work less—i.e., it’s    A f ric a n double-a mputee                                                          and coaches reinforce this,
not fair, and it’s not natural.”                         sprinter who, as Greely put it,      have intellectual and physical pursuits         to the children’s detriment,
    But some drugs (and devices) are legal while oth-    “came damn close to appear-
ers aren’t. To make it fair, following Noll’s sugges-    ing in the Olympics.” The
                                                                                                                                                        get locked
                                                                                             shone together so gloriously in one place and they (or athletes)in. But
                                                                                                                                              children               with a
tion, give everyone the same access. Besides, what’s     international Court of Arbi-                                                         “growth mindset” can trans-
natural?                                                 tration for Sport ruled he did                as they do at Stanford.
                                                                                                                                              form themselves.
    “If we could find the fastest ‘natural’ runner in    not have an unfair advantage                                                            One of Dweck’s students
                                                         (there were those who said his                                                       recently did an honors the-
                                                         prosthetic blades gave him                                                           sis reporting that Stanford
                                                         an edge). But in the end, he                                                         athletes who thought their
                                                         missed qualifying by a half-second. Zettler’s study coaches believed in effort over ability tended to per-
                                                         asked if, under the ADA, the NCAA or USA Track form better.
                                                         & Field would be obliged to let Pistorius compete.           People who worship athletes “forget that the drive
                                                         She concluded that they would because his partici- got them there,” Dweck said. “Michael Jordan said, ‘I
                                                         pation would not violate an essential aspect of the worked hard, it’s not a gift.’ He said, ‘I’ve missed lots
                                                                                                                   of baskets, I’ve failed.’ But people don’t believe it.”
                                                                                                                      People prefer to think that champions are su-
                                                                                                                   perheroes, she said. “I’m not saying there’s no such
                                                                                                                   thing as talent; there is. But that’s just a starting
                                                                                                                   point. Even Michael Jordan never coasted on his tal-
                                                                                                                   ent. You have to keep growing.
                                                                                                                      “Look at [former Stanford student] Tiger Woods.
                                                                                                                   Several years ago he completely took apart his game.
                                                                                                                   He understood that he had to lose for a while, and
                                                                                                                   then he came back in this extraordinary way.” (Both
                                                                                                                   Noll and Greely, it’s worth noting, advised Woods

                                                                                                                               November 19, 2008             STANForD reporT       11
                                                                                                                                                                         L.A. CICERO
                   reL ated InforMatIon

 BARBARA H. FRIED                                                                          Roger Noll, who helps Stanford recruit
                                                                                                                                football players, says he is torn:
                                                                                                                           ‘I think Stanford should be worried about
 HANS ULRICH GUMBRECHT                                                                                                       being associated with NCAA football;
 ROGER G. NOLL                                                                                                                I love the game, but it’s so corrupt
                                                                                                                           because there’s so much money at stake.’
 POSITIVE COACHING ALLIANCE                                     during his two years on
                                                                  the Farm, and both com-
                                                                  mented on how much he
 titleix/                                                         loved being a student.)
                                                                      L egend a r y UCL A
 “GOING THE DISTANCE AND KEEPING THE PACE”                        basketball coach John
                                                                  Wooden is high on ev-
 “LUXURY STADIUMS POINT UP PROBLEMS WITH PRO                      eryone’s list of great
 SPORTS MONOPOLIES, ECONOMIST SAYS”                               coache s bec au se he             managed to get people
 stadiums.html                                                    who were not as tal-
 “NEW STUDY YIELDS INSTRUCTIVE RESULTS ON HOW                     ented as their opponents
 MINDSET AFFECTS LEARNING”                                        to nonet heless w in.      “Wooden’s objective
 020707.html                                                      was to get all the players
 VIDEO: STANFORD-AFFILIATED 2008 OLYMPIC ATHLETES                 to give their all,” Dweck
 GET A WARM RECEPTION                                             said. “Too much empha-        sis on winning without
 eos/391_flash.html                                               team spirit is a losing strat-
                                                                  egy. It’s like a company that
                                                                  looks good on Wall Street
                                                                  but actually is unhealthy.”
                                                                      That segue between coach-
       ‘If we could find the fastest “natural” runner             ing and management would
                                                                  come as no surprise to Jim Thomp-
     in the world in some village in Nebraska or Africa,          son, a Stanford MBA, former head
                                                                  of the Graduate School of Business’
     he’d lose to a mediocre sprinter at a good                   Public Management Program and found-
                                                                  ing director of the Positive Coaching Alliance       Getting in the zone
 NCAA school who has training, good shoes,                         (PCA), a nationwide organization that counts            One of the first big decisions for Stanford af-
                                                                    among its supporters Dweck and Michael Jor-        ter the events of Sept. 11, 2001, was whether to
a sports psychologist and access to video,’                         dan’s former coach Phil Jackson.                   proceed with the weekend’s scheduled football
     said Hank Greely, who is particularly                             Like Noll, Thompson uses the prisoner’s di-     game. Sports are a vehicle for testing our ethi-
                                                                   lemma metaphor. “The only way to ensure that        cal principles. They often act as placeholders for
          interested in the ethical                               students practice only 20 hours a week is to go      larger contests.
                                                                  outside the frame,” he said. “Individual direc-          The person called upon to stand on the 50-
         ramifications of sports.                                 tors can’t change the way things are done. And       yard line and provide two minutes of inspiration
                  4                                               the problem is the trickle-down. When colleges
                                                                  start football in spring, high schools have to do
                                                                                                                       at that game was Joanne Sanders, an associate
                                                                                                                       dean for religious life and an Episcopal priest.
                                                                  the same.”                                           She also occasionally gets called upon to bless
                                                                      When Thompson came up with the idea for          Cardinal boats. She worked as a chaplain for the
                                                                  PCA, which assists elementary and high-school        San Jose CyberRays and the 2002 Winter Olym-
                                                                  sports programs, he got instant support.             pics, and teaches a class on sports and spiritual-
                                                                      “Ted Leland was very interested in psychol-      ity, a project initiated with Jim Thompson.
                                                                  ogy, in the degradation of the culture of sports,”       If stadiums have been called modern-day ca-
                                                                  Thompson said. “So he was very excited about         thedrals, the comparison does not sit well with
                                                                  PCA. He thought it was a good thing for soci-        Sanders. It’s one thing for an athlete to get into
                                                                  ety, and he wanted to support it.                    a quasi-mystical zone. Dweck says it has to do
                                                                      “Stanford is a great place for these ideas to    with mindset; others might call it a form of spir-
                                                                  incubate. I met with some people from [another       ituality.
                                                                  university] who were working on similar proj-            But sports can also veer off into what Sanders
                                                                  ects, and I showed them my card, which said          calls “muscular Christianity.” Most obviously
                                                                  Athletics Department. They couldn’t believe it.      in football, but also in other sports (including
                                                                  ‘I can’t even get in the door of our athletics de-   at the Olympics), evangelical Protestantism can
                                                                  partment,’ one said, ‘and you’re housed there?’”     be a problem, and some Stanford coaches have
                                                                      Current Stanford Athletic Director Bob           called upon Sanders and her colleagues for ad-
                                                                  Bowlsby is “fantastic,” Thompson said. “I was at     vice.
                                                                  a meeting in Washington, D.C., when he was               “We’ve created a monster with sports, and
                                                                  appointed, and everyone at my meeting was            this is where I get ambivalent,” said the former
                                                                  congratulating me.”                                  tennis coach. “I vacillate between love and hate.
                                                                      Though PCA later moved its offices off cam-      There’s so much hero worship. In some ways,
                                                                  pus, Thompson continues to have close links to       sports has gotten off the track.”
                                                                  the university. Like Dweck, he believes that ef-         But if hero worship is not a good thing, that
                                                                  fort, not some mysterious innate ability, is the     doesn’t mean there aren’t the occasional heroes.
                                                                  key to sports performance. He would never            For over a century, Stanford has been home to
                                                                  say, however, that winning isn’t important. He       some of them, and that has always provided an
                                                                  knows that it is very, very important. His orga-     inspiration to its scholars. At the 1908 Games
                                                                  nization rewards “triple-impact” athletes: those     in London, Sam Bellah and John Miller became
                                                                  who have a positive impact on themselves, on         the university’s first Olympians. Bellah placed
                                                                  their team and on the sport. To be a winner,         sixth in the pole-vault, and four years later, at
                                                                  PCA says, a coach must focus on effort, learning     the 1912 Games in Stockholm, he placed sev-
                                                                         and mistakes.                                 enth. Go Cardinal, keep going. S r
                                 DAVID GONZALES

12      STANForD reporT                 November 19, 2008

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