Athletics and academics – interview with Glen Grunwald

Near the end of last month I had the opportunity to interview Glen Grunwald, current Director of Athletics and Recreation at McMaster University, and former front-office executive of the New York Knicks and the Toronto Raptors.

I wanted to ask Glen for his insight on the relationship between sports and higher education – at academic institutions generally, at McMaster specifically, but also in terms of professional sports like NBA basketball.

Our conversation aired on CFMU 93.3 FM on the February 5th episode of Marauder Morning and will be available on the website for several weeks. I’m also sharing it on my Soundcloud page and here, below. Check it out – Glen’s an intelligent and charismatic speaker, and it was a pleasure to speak with him.

INTERVIEW NOTES

Introduction

00:00:00 [transcript]

If you follow professional basketball, you tend to hear about where NBA players competed in college. It’s much more rare to hear talk of where pro players graduated, and what they studied. That got me thinking recently about the relationship between higher education and sports, not just in the National Basketball Association, or in the American college system, but also here in Canada. And specifically, I wanted to learn more about the relation between athletics and academics at McMaster.

To that end, I met up with Mac’s Director of Athletics and Recreation, Glen Grunwald. I went into this interview with a concern about the potential for athletics and academics to operate as competing pressures in a student’s life. The university, the “academy,” is often understood, in an idealized sense as a place for the development of the mind. Whereas sports, athletics, are more often understood as a way of developing the body.

During my conversation with Glen I was reminded that this mind-body binary is just one perspective, one way of framing the relation between studying and sports. We can also think of athletics and academics as interconnected and mutually supportive. I came out of this interview with the sense that participating in physical activities, including team sports, isn’t just about gaining a full university experience – it may play an important role in our development as whole people and as members of broader communities.

I’m Laura Wiebe, of CFMU 93.3 FM, and this is my conversation with Athletics and Recreation Director, Glen Grunwald.

[/transcript]

Interview begins

00:01:46 [notes]

00:02:01 – Glen Grunwald’s role at McMaster…

00:2:36:00 – What does the mission statement “… to cultivate human potential through sport and recreation” mean to you? …

00:04:25 – Sports and community…

00:05:27 – The student-athlete experience…

00:06:33 – Supports for student-athletes: facilities, coaches (including volunteers), sports medicine, strength and conditioning (an integrated model) as well as mental health – sports psychiatrist, counselling (Student Wellness Centre), and in the future, Student Athlete Mental Health Initiative (SAMHi). …

00:10:41 – Academic supports for student-athletes…

00:13:47 – Balancing sports with academics…

00:17:33 – contrasting NCAA [www.ncaa.org], USports [www.usports.ca/en], and professional sports…

00:21:00 – Vince Carter’s decision to attend college graduation ceremonies in North Carolina the same day the Raptors played game seven of the NBA Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Philadelphia 76ers in 2001…

00:23:34 – Working toward a degree while playing professional sports (NBA)…

00:25:54 – Advice to student athletes…

00:27:01 – Connecting successful alumni with current student athletes…

[/notes]

Conclusion

00:28:30 [transcript]

That was Glen Grunwald, McMaster’s Director of Athletics and Recreation talking with me, Laura Wiebe, of CFMU.

For more information about athletics and recreation at Mac, visit rec.mcmaster.ca and www.marauders.ca.

To learn about the Student-Athlete Mental Health Initiative, visit www.samhi.ca.

And for more content from CFMU, listen at 93.3FM and visit us at cfmu.ca.

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