IAPS Conference at Cardiff 2015 (Sept 2-5, 2015)

Being a part of the 43rd Annual International Association for the Philosophy of Sport (IAPS) Conference at Cardiff, Wales has been absolutely amazing. People may have their preconceived notions of philosophers, but never have I been among a more diverse, scholarly, and welcoming group of people. Though philosophers love to debate and discuss their ideas and works, this group does it with a genuine warmth, and desire of finding new knowledge. I discussed it briefly with my advising professor, Dr. John Gleaves, on the last night at the banquet, and he said, "philosophy is at its best when people can discuss their ideas without letting their ego interfere. We welcome someone that is able to prove us wrong, or suggest another approach. This is how we add to the body of knowledge."

The IAPS Conference was as one might imagine a philosophy conference: There was a series of 90 lectures (split among 2-3 parallel sessions at a time), two keynote speakers, two panel discussions, and the presidential address. In between there was plenty of coffee and snacks, as well as lunch, and an opening dinner reception and closing banquet. During the Opening dinner, an award-winning choir of Wale sang for us, and there was plenty of wine to go around. As it was a Sport Philosophy Conference, a majority of the group saw the Wales Vs Italy Rugby game on Saturday (of which Wales won).

 Leading up to my presentation I got to attend many amazing lectures, including that of a fellow CSUF graduate student, Emmanuel Macedo. Seeing the general layout of the lectures, I was able to better prepare and know what to expect, and by the time of my presentation (the third day), I was a lot more comfortable with the group.

I had met many people I only ever knew by name in the books and papers they wrote. People like R. Scott Kretchmar, Chad Carlson, Heather Reid, Mike McNamee, and Jesus Ilundain-Agurruza (the current president of IAPS) were just some of the "legends" in my mind that I was able to meet in person and discuss philosophy. I also met many others with an incredible wealth of knowledge, and attended the presentations of even more with inspiring and thought-provoking topics. 

"Kretchmar Mafia"

"Kretchmar Mafia"

I presented on Friday morning parallel session of "Thoughts on Play." This session, which included Chad Carlson whom I referenced in my own paper, was viewed by over thirty people, including Scott Kretchmar, which was a great honor. --As a side, Scott Kretchmar is a huge name in sport philosophy, and the "Godfather" of a significant number of Penn State graduates (around 12 of which were at the conference) as the senior Philosophy of Sport Professor. In fact, Peter Hopsicker mentioned that the Penn State sport philosophers are called the "Kretchmar Mafia."--Generally, I think my presentation went well. After a minor technical difficulty using my ipod to read my paper from, the rest of the presentation went swimmingly. I was able to "split the room" as Dr. Gleaves said, and none of the questions (of which there were a number) were impossible to answer. Afterwards, Chad Carlson and Eric Moore sat with me during the break and discussed some of the points of my paper, and John William Devine complimented the slides and said I was off to a very good start, especially as a master's student. Scott Kretchmar was also very complimentary, and said he looked forward to seeing more work in the future. I was on cloud nine hearing all these great things from so many respected professors. 

Alas, though, the Conference came to an end too soon. Saturday had the last presentations, concluding with the presidential address by Jesus Ilundain-Agurruza. His presentation was perhaps the most inspirational (which is saying a lot because there were many amazing presentations and knowledge I had already gained). Jesus presented on the topic of emptiness (as from an Eastern philosophical perspective) and gratitude in regards to sport. I would need to write another post to truly capture its brilliance, but as one fairly well versed in Eastern philosophy, I was both moved and inspired by Jesus' presentation; especially when most of the people in IAPS often come from a very Western philosophical perspective. 

After a brief IAPS Business Meeting, we were let off early, and I was able to run (literally) to the Cardiff City Centre about 2.7 miles away, and do some site seeing and souvenir shopping. I ran back to my dorm, took an hour nap, got formally dressed, and then walked another 2.5 miles to Swalec Stadium for the Closing Banquet. The banquet had a high end three-course dinner with red and white wine (in addition to the Fosters Super Chilled beer I ordered when I arrived). I sat with Dr. Gleaves, Chad Carlson, Peter Hopsicker, Douglas Hochstetler,  Eric Moore, Emmanuel Macedo,  and friend Lukas Mares, many of which I had met earlier in the conference. The conversation, food, and environment was a beautiful end to an amazing time in Cardiff, Wales. I could not be more grateful for this time, and I am inspired to contribute to this amazing association, and hopefully attend many more IAPS conferences in the future.


Day 1 (Tuesday): Made it to Cardiff!

I left LAX at 8:30am on August 31st toward IAD (Washington Dulles), and after some technical problems on the plane--delaying the trip about an hour--I was on my way to London!

Arrived in London at 7am on September 1st. After getting through immigration, I quickly exchanged my dollars for pounds and ran toward the Central Bus station. I had already bought my tickets online and I was supposed to be board the 7:55am bus for Cardiff. Unfortunately, I literally got to the station right as the bus was leaving... To make matters worse, I paid the 10 pounds to ammend my ticket for the next bus, only to miss that one as well! Beaten, I explained my situation, and luckily they did not charge me an additional 10 pounds. Finally, the third time I learned my lesson and waited outside looking for the bus with my number, since the overhead anouncer seemed to be delayed in announcing the arriving buses, and was difficult to understand (darn English English). I found my bus (two hours after I had originally planned to be on the bus), and was on my way to Cardiff at 10am.

The bus ride on the National Express was pleasant. I saw the pretty green landscape and scattered clouds, with occasional rain. During the three hours, I slept about half the time, waking as we approached the English-Welsh border. 

The bus arrived at 1:10pm in Cardiff at Sophia Gardens, a beautifual massive park and temporary bus station. This location was 2.6miles from the university I would be staying. There were not any obvious taxis, and my phone does not have an international plan, so I decided to walk. Truthfully, that was my plan all along (weather permitting), and I had already printed a Google map with directions and reviewed the path to the school. I had no digital map, as my ipod needed wifi to work, but I used my Suunto watch's compass function frequently to confirm I was headed in the right direction. 

The walk was very nice. I initially cut across Sophia Gardens, crossing Millenium Bridge, heading northeast. The park was beautiful, and bustling with bikers, trail runners, and picnickers. I made it to the main road, and after confirming with a local at a bus stop the street name, I was on my way. One thing that makes navigation in Cardiff difficult is the lack of street name signs. Only a couple streets appeared to be labeled, and even those were discreet. I learned often the easiest way to know what street you were on was to check at the various bus stops. Luckily, Cardiff is very walker friendly, and the 2.6 mile trip to the university was mostly a straight path. After passing the large Cathay Cemetary and another good size park, I finally made it to Cardiff Metropolitan University--Cyncoed Campus. 

Upon arrival, I found the dorm office, and got my key and wifi password. I was very impressed with the room. Located on the second floor of the Fizthamon building, it has its own bathroom, desk and chair, bed, and plenty of storage space. There are also plenty of outlets. Unfortunately, however, my travel adapter did not work, and as I would need to charge my electronics sometime, I realized I would have to buy a new one, It was a bit of a panic for me because I could not just look up a general store Target or Walmart; the stores out here were quite foreign to me. And though Cardiff is a decent sized city, it has more of a close-knit village feel. There are modern parts of course, but much of it seems to be family-owned, specialized businesses. 

In my search, I was able to find one seemingly reliable electronics chain on Google maps, Maplin Electronics, and after browsing their site, it appeared that they had travel adapters. It was another 2.2 miles away from the university, so I grabbed my small backpack, and prepared for the trip. I had received a detailed map of Cardiff at registration, so I marked where it was on my map, an proceeded to explore more of Cardiff, just Southeast of the university.

Everything went great until the last mile. I made too sharp of a turn, and actually ended up going about a half mile in the wrong direction. Cardiff's lack of street signs through me off again, but after a number of checks with my watch's compass, I finally found where I had gone wrong, and found Maplin! I was led to the adapter section, and though they had few US>UK adapters, I found one that worked. I then made the journey back, grabbing a quick sandwich on the way back. I arrived at my dorm around 8, and after a quick cleanup, I crashed in my bed, having walked at least 8 miles and having been up since the day before (other than the naps on the plane and bus).

Preparing for a Philosophy Conference

Difference between Science and Philosophy Conferences

So as I prepare for the International Association for Sport Philosophy (IAPS) Conference, I thought I would share some expectations according to my advising professor, Dr. Gleaves.

As opposed to other conferences in the field of kinesiology that deal primarily with science and education, this conference follows the old school layout of philosophy. Scientific presenters typically share a summary of their research, highlighting results and discussion. In contrast, philosophers do not have the comfort of having a “results” section. Instead, the philosopher forms a logical argument rooted in preexisting philosophical inquiries on the topic. As a result, whereas scientists highlight their findings and attempt to make it more understandable to viewers, philosophers generally read their papers word for word with an accompanying slide show. The logical layout, flow of the paper, and argument are judged, rather than the results obtained through the scientific method.

To take things further, I am told the Q & A after a philosophy presentation can get pretty intense. As Rebecca Goldstein said about philosophy, it is meant "to render violence to our sense of ourselves and our world, and our sense of ourselves in the world." I will need to know my paper inside and out, and be prepared to defend my argument from many different fronts. Whereas one cannot really argue against the results of a well-performed scientific experiment, one can debate the assertions of a fellow philosopher. Dr. Gleaves has already said we will have to meet a couple of times prior to the conference to practice this philosophical debate.

Philosophy Debate

So what is my paper about?

Play! I have long been interested in the philosophy of play since first realizing it is a phenomenon that we all take for granted, without really understanding what it is. Everyone enjoys play, but we most associate it with games, sports, and children. In my paper I attempt to highlight what elements generate play in our everyday lives. I argue it is not unique to games, sports, and children, but a perspective toward any experience throughout our lives. I suggest that play brings out the very best of humanity, as it is realized when we have a true sense of joy, freedom, and engagement with some experience. As opposed to the popular notion that play is the opposite of work, I suggest having a play perspective at work will yield the greatest success and fulfillment.

I could go on, but I will leave it at that for now. Before the conference I will post my “final” draft of the paper in the Essays section of this site for those that wish to read it. 

Weekly Blog Posts!

After having completed my first year in the Master of Science Program in Kinesiology at Cal State, Fullerton, I feel it is best to take my adviser's advice, and write a little every day. I hope to share my ideas and thoughts on various aspects of being a grad student, and the various opportunities that arise. 

Funding

One thing I am learning is that funding for grad studies is a lot easier than expected. I recently, applied to FASFA in order to take out a loan to subsidize my finances, and to my great surprise the university gave a grant that will cover tuition for this entire coming year! I was more than a little surprised (wish I would have applied for my first year of grad school also...). This year I was also awarded the Beverly and Arnold Miller Scholarship in Gerontology, which will more than cover books and other educational finances this school year.

I have to thank my girlfriend, Evelyn, for pushing me to apply for FASFA despite my "certainty" that I would only get a loan, and thanks to Professor Rose, for suggesting I apply for the scholarship.

I have learned there is a lot of money hiding that will gladly make itself available if you know under which rock to look. In pursuit of my dream of becoming a professor, I look forward to honing my skills in finding funding!

IAPS Conference in Cardiff, Wales

Since last December, I have been adamantly working on a sport philosophy paper defining the concept of "play." See my original essay here!  The conference is hosted by the International Association for the Philosophy of Sport at the Cardiff Metropolitan University in Cardiff, Wales, UK, and takes place September 2-5. 

Sherlock

Yesterday, I finalized my flight tickets, National Express Bus ride from London to Cardiff, and accommodation at the university dorms. It is pretty exciting, and I cannot wait to explore the city. It is the primary filming place for "Sherlock" and "Dr. Who," and the Cardiff Castle is supposed to be awesome! I will blog frequently here once I am on the trip. Stay posted!