U.S. sports culture for many adolescents, from middle school, or younger, through high school, seems increasingly characterized by a trend that leads young athletes to the narrow pursuit of excellence in just a single sport. The potential rewards are significant: advanced athletic development, personal satisfaction and even college scholarships and free tuition. But less obvious are unsentimental statistics that paint a starker picture of the frequency of that level of athletic achievement. Here is a look, in numbers, at the very narrow road to elite athletic success.
Herbert Medina, professor of mathematics, practices the art of walking. Several times a year, he leads faculty and staff on weekend walks from LMU to the Getty Museum, Manhattan Beach and elsewhere. In May 2011, he and a group of LMU staff members and students walked El Camino de Santiago de Compostela, also known as the Way of St. James, the centuries-old pilgrimage in Europe that ends in Santiago, Spain. The pilgrimage is actually several paths, and Medina’s group took the 200-mile journey that starts in Leon, Spain. To train the group, Medina led walks across L.A. of increasing distance throughout the 2010–11 academic year. The ultimate L.A. test was a 15.5-mile trek from LMU to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. We asked Medina to map it for us, with L.A. highlights, and to use his mathematical expertise to provide a comparison between his own Way to the Cathedral and El Camino de Santiago.
We asked you in our winter 2013 issue and online at magazine.lmu.edu to pick your favorite person, place or thing of LMU by filling out our custom-made LMU bracket. You answered in droves, and your write-in suggestions were many (you can still make your own picks at magazine.lmu.edu). Check out the results, and the metrics breakdown. Enjoy.
Sarah Strand, assistant professor in the Department of Health and Human Sciences in the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering and director of the LMU athletic training program, studies concussions in female athletes. The information presented here is based on her research and statistics gathered from government publications. Read an interview she did with LMU Magazine.