Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Do you feel that academia is crushing your soul? Do you cry out for help but nobody listens?

Wow, that sucks. Sorry, all I've got is a top ten list. Hope things get better.

There exists a field of study at universities called Leisure Science. Now, don’t get me wrong. All knowledge has intrinsic value. Knowing more about anything, no matter how mundane or trivial, is good. Having said that, give me a frickin’ break. Leisure science? (I see that it is sometimes called “leisure studies.” I guess that’s for students who don’t like math.) I haven’t taken a moment to look at this in detail, mainly because I might find that it is a legitimate field of study and that would make it less humorous.

This answers a number of questions I was wondering about. Ten of them, to be exact.

Top Ten questions about leisure science

10. When will we know that it won’t be long before “web surfing” becomes a college major?
9. How do you take a break when you are studying leisure science?
8. What do pro athletes major in when they are at college?
7. How can a student get financial aid to pay for a Nerf Super Soaker?
6. Can I get paid to figure out why people like to have fun rather than work hard?
5. Is there a way to take something fun and relaxing and graph it?
4. If laboratory scientists wear a lab coat, do leisure scientists wear a leisure suit?
3. Do we need any more evidence that there is a higher education bubble?
2. Would it be bad if you said that leisure science doesn't attract serious students?
1. How embarrassing is it when somebody asks, “Oh, you’re a scientist. Do you work at NASA?” and you respond, “No, Six Flags.”


  1. I had to put that shizzit into google to see if you weren't pulling our collective miserable leg.

    There are a couple of "academic pursuits" that don't seem so much like academic pursuits because some things don't seem like they can be subject to rigorous examination. Leisure science seems like one of them. Sport psychology, ok...kinesiology, ok, but getting into the nitty gritty of whether to put a swing in a park or a slide...I dunno.

    I suppose rather than cast aspersions, which is so easy and fun, maybe we should just say that this particular study is in its infancy. Or that Western society has become so cushy that this is a new frontier. In which case, maybe we need a good hard biblical rapturing.

  2. Leisure studies have have been around for quite some time actually. I'm not quite a silverback, but when I was in high school in the Dark Ages known as the 80s, one of the top state unis in my area offered this as a major and very actively recruited for it at my school. We had good sports teams in several areas, so I guess they thought it would be a good place to get students. Ironically their standards for every other college except ag were so high that few of our students even qualified for admission. A common trick was to claim one was interested in becoming an ag or leisure studies major and undertake a couple of extracurriculars to "prove" it (since they wouldn't take people in them otherwise), and then get there, take the core, and transfer to one's real major.

  3. If I get to wear a leisure suit to do my leisure studies, I'm in.

  4. We've got majors (or related minors) in things like Tourism, Hospitality, Events Management, and, of course, Exercise Science and Physical Education. I suspect that Leisure Studies covers some of the same ground. When you think of it, all of the above, separately and in various combinations, are at the heart of a variety of booming business sectors. And somebody has to manage the various Six Flags, and run all the athletics camps, and plan all the weddings and conferences and other "events."

    That said, most of the students I've had from those majors have not been academically outstanding. But many have been cheerful and hardworking and had good time management skills, all of which will serve them well in their chosen fields. A few have been really out to lunch, especially when it comes to things like recognizing scholarly sources (that's been especially true of the tourism folks, several of whom have had trouble grasping the difference between a scholarly article and puff piece/brochure/press release put out by a government tourism agency). But, all in all, they're decent kids looking for a way to work in a field they enjoy, and this is probably as good a way as any for them to get the B.A. that every decent job seems to require these days (whether that should be the case is another question).

    The brighter bulbs with sports-related interests mostly go into things like physical therapy and training (which require a good deal of knowledge of and comfort with things like anatomy and reading medical literature), and I suspect that a Business degree is a more challenging alternative to Tourism, Hospitality, etc.

  5. So is this like our new Participating in Drama major? Basically, people watch plays. Lots and lots of plays. And get a degree.

  6. Cassandra, I think you are right. Disney does a great job of keeping their park running smoothly. That doesn't happen by accident. It's still a funny name for a major.

    Cynic, I thought participating in drama meant "acting." I it means watching plays, then I'm a pro athlete in the NFL.

  7. @Beaker Ben: Your title and lead-in made this post worthwhile even if Leisure Science turns out to be legit.


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