Sport has enormous significance in American culture—as entertainment, business, leisure activity, health and fitness maintenance. It provides metaphors for everyone from politicians to poets to sociologists. Mary Jo Kane, professor, director of the School of Kinesiology, and director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport, is a sport sociologist. Both her personal research projects and the collaborative outreach coming out of the center reinforce her belief that sport is a legitimate filter for academic research.
It’s no secret that the United States is in the midst of a childhood obesity epidemic. The numbers behind the sound-bytes are staggering; according to the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 16 percent of American children ages six to 19 are overweight—triple the proportion of 1980. Add to that the additional 15 percent of American kids who are at risk for becoming overweight, and one-third of our children face a dismal medical future due to obesity-related illnesses.