Just for sport

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Somewhere between quarterly offerings for economics and entomology, the Ohio State University course bulletin lists classes in what looks to be the most fun major of all time: education physical activity and educational services.

You can take swimming, golf, boxing, weight training, karate or square dancing. You can, for credit, learn to wield a sword, shoot a gun, breathe under water, ride a horse, navigate rapids or climb a mountain.

Most students opt to study a different profession full-time - generally something with more books - but they're offered a host of diverse opportunities for keeping active.

"The university as a whole has a mission that we develop students that are wellness-minded, [learning] physical, mental and emotional health," said Jae Westfall, program manager for OSU's Sports, Fitness and Health Program. "We're just helping that mission along."

At OSU, most classes are centered at the shiny new Recreation and Physical Activity Center, better known as the R-PAC, and offered during normal workday hours. Others are arranged at outside locations - windsurfing at Alum Creek State Park, for example.

For more adventurous classes, students can hit up the Outdoor Adventure Center, which rents backpacks, kayaks, ice axes, wetsuits and tons of other expensive amenities to those with a BuckID.

Offerings change regularly to meet student needs, Westfall said. Faculty are constantly looking at hot new sports and ending programs with sagging interest.

Most activity electives reward one or two meetings per week with one to three credit hours, which count toward one part of the broad general-education curriculum (GEC) requirement.

The benefits of such classes include exercise, relief from first-year stress and the chance to meet people outside the confinements of the classroom. Introductory classes in volleyball, flag football or basketball also instruct novice players in the basics, allowing them to participate more fully in intramural sports.

"The popularity tells me that it's not too much of a [time] burden," Westfall said. "The typical student takes one per year, but some take one per quarter. We want you to find something that you want to do for the rest of your life."