The outgoing class of the Springfield College Applied Exercise Science major certainly is en route to exiting with a bang, as they may have stumbled upon the ideal speaker to address the Springfield College community in recent memory.
Tuesday night in the Appleton Auditorium of the Fuller Arts Center stood David Epstein, a senior writer at Sports Illustrated and author of “The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance,” an investigative book that fuses sport and science together to cultivate a work of literature that touches on arguably two major components of Springfield College life.
The “10,000 hour rule” has become a cornerstone to athletic success, as suggested by experts for years. The rule in its simplest state proclaims that to reach mastery of a certain sport, 10,000 hours is a requirement. One expert, however, refutes this whole-heartedly, and made that quite clear in his speech to a packed house on Tuesday.
Through years upon years of research and trips to different countries such as China, Epstein discovered that the now infamous 10,000-hour rule and sport specialization might be what holds athletes back.
“If you want the best 12-year-old [athletes], you should specialize them,” he said, inciting chuckles throughout the crowd.
The point Epstein essentially drove at was that parents have become so infatuated with having their kids being the best athlete that they have them focus solely on one sport, where in actuality they are being held back and possibly restricted from finding their true niche in the athletic world.
Instead, Epstein introduced cases in which fully-developed adults – such as high jumper Donald Thomas, who had immense success with less than 10,000 hours of practice – had bodies that were just biologically designed for a certain sport. His example, Thomas, tried high jumping for the first time in college in basketball shorts and sneakers. In just a matter of days, he not only broke the seven-foot barrier, but annihilated it, with less than one percent of that sought after 10,000-hour mark met.
“You can take very different paths to get to the same place,” stated Epstein in regards to Thomas and his Swedish rival, Stefan Holm.
The presentation moved quickly, not in such a way that it felt as if Epstein was rushing it, but rather he was simply throwing so much information at his audience that by the time it all began to sink in, the presentation had concluded.
“I had so much anticipation going into this,” said freshman Adam Salvatore. “The body is so intricate as well as the role genetics plays in one’s ability. These authors have so much to tell and so much to show that could be monumental to the exercise field.”
A sports and science school such as Springfield College was long overdue for a visit from David Epstein. With a group as dedicated in these facets of life as the Springfield College community, it is not too far beyond the realm of imagination that Tuesday’s presentation could spread like wildfire throughout the athletic community, not only due to the presenter, but also because of the young, motivated scholars in attendance.