Though the academic and athletic rankings may seem similar on the surface, they are completely different flow systems existing in the same space: a college campus, Bejan said.
"Academic excellence and basketball excellence are two different flow hierarchies in the same place, like the spread of early man across the continents or river basins on the landscape," Bejan said. "Together they show how the evolution of sports allows us to witness biological evolution."
Athletic competition is an ideal medium to study evolution because its outcome is so simple and direct an athlete or team either wins or loses. No other factors come into play. Bejan has already shown in previous studies that athletes have grown bigger, taller and faster over the past 100 years. Their growth is almost three times that of average people over the same time frame.
"The science of sports evolution is a significant step in evolutionary biology, where the accepted view is that evolution is impossible to observe because of its long timeframe," Bejan said. "With sports, we can focus on a particular population of athletes and witness 'live' the evolution of the design and performance of this selected group."
Universities, on the other hand, have multiple objectives with their individual measurements.
"While in sport you just have to win, a university must cover a much wider spectrum of pursuits, from engineering, literature, the arts and so on," Bejan said. "Had the two rankings been related, sports and academics, you would see more of the same universities at the top of both rankings. Most of the universities appear only in one of the rankings -- they seem to separate themselves into two different worlds."
Bejan believes that the term scholar-athlete may
|Contact: Richard Merritt|