On the right track for inclusion 1

December 13, 2002

I read half the report on sports minister Richard Caborn's criticism of elitism in sports science ("Coaches slated for failing the team", THES , November 29) as I walked to lecture sports-science students on the benefit of exercise for community mental health and wellbeing. I read the other half after drafting a letter of thanks to Adrian Taylor for giving his community lecture on exercise and the elderly at York St John College to a packed audience of all ages.

Feeling Caborn challenged, I re-read the subject benchmarking statements for Unit 25. The guidance says that sports science degrees should "provide a critical appreciation of the relationship between sport and exercise activity and intervention in a variety of participant groups. This will include special populations such as the elderly, disabled and children."

Comforted that sports science strives to be inclusive, I went to work on a special edition of the Journal of Sports Sciences dedicated to the public health effects of physical activity. Caborn will be delighted to read that it will include two papers from colleagues at Loughborough, one of which is on social inclusion and diversity.

Confident in the knowledge that sports science really is making a difference to the community, I cycled home to be confronted by my angry partner (the former Olympic athlete Angela Tooby) who took great exception to the quote you printed in which I said: "I have not worked with an elite athlete for years." So my message to Caborn is that sports science really is working hard to be inclusive and to support the needs of the community. And to Angela Tooby, I still recognise that you are the fastest runner in our house.

Andy Smith
Head of the school of sports science and psychology
York St John College

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