View Full Version : Re: USOC Biomechanics Program - A Response

Leonard & Juli Caillouet
11-05-1998, 03:07 PM
I find it unfortunate that the discussion developed to a level that
required Jeff Broker to respond. Having experienced the work of the USOC
in sport science for many years from the perspective of an athlete, an NGB,
and now as a member of the USOC Sport Science & Technology Committee, I
feel that I must add my comments.

First, the RA program has served the field of sport science well. Jeff
clearly and adequately defended the program. Most of those who have
participated would probably share the view that it is more than just a job.
It certainly is not for everyone, but then many people would consider
graduate school to be a similar folly...

Second, while I missed Dr. Chalmers' comments, I must suggest that anyone
who chooses to criticize Jeff Broker should do some homework. I have
experienced that he is certainly a great asset to the USOC, the NGBs and
the athletes that he serves. It has been a pleasure to work with him and
to experience his dedication, his hard work beyond what would be considered
normal in most jobs, and the reflective and intelligent manner with which
he approaches his work. The volume of service that he and his colleagues
in the USOC Sport Science Division provide, along with their support of
research and education in the field, are far beyond what would be expected
of those in academic environments. I'm sure that there are hundreds of
people who have worked with Jeff that would agree with my perspective. I'm
sure that his director Walt Wilson does.

Finally, a call or e-mail to the USOC would have cleared up Jack
Sujovolsky's questions. Perhaps Dr. Chalmers could provide a more
enlightened contribution to BIOMCH-L than petty criticism. Usenet has
plenty of forums for that type of commentary. I hope that Jeff and others
at the USOC will not have to waste their time responding to such tripe. I
realize that the demands of thousands of athletes through dozens of NGBs on
the handful of biomechanics staff in the Sport Science Division keep them
tied up. However, I'd like to see them engaged here in more discussion of
issues related to sport biomechanics.

Can we keep the discussion scientific and productive?

Leonard G. Caillouet

At 02:29 PM 11/3/98 -0800, Jeff Broker wrote:
> Dear Interested Parties:
> A message posted on this list September 25, 1998 by Jack Sujovolsky
> (titled "employment question") queried the readership concerning job
> possibilities in biomechanics. In the message, Mr. Sujovolsky asked how
> the USOC can offer a position for a Masters graduate in biomechanics for
> "only $16k for a year, with no benefits or housing."
> I was going to respond to Mr. Sujovolsky and the list with an
> of our program, which he misrepresented. I then realized, however, that
> we are days away from posting our 1999/2000 Research Assistant (RA) job
> openings - and thus thought I'd wait and let the announcement speak for
> itself. Unbeknown to me, until yesterday, one of our RAs responded
to Mr.
> Sujovolsky - defending the USOC program on behalf of four USOC RAs (two
> biomechanists and two exercise physiologists). She told me they were
> somewhat insulted by the comments made, and that she outlined the
> benefits of the RA program in her response.
> Then, yesterday, Mr. Sujovolsky posted a summary of replies to his
> original question. This summary was quite disturbing to many of us
at the
> USOC, due to its negativism toward our organization in particular,
and the
> biomechanics field in general. To make matters worse, Mr. Sujovolsky
> apparently elected to NOT include the response put forth by our RAs.
> Further, a particularly inflammatory response was posted, authored by
> Gordon Chalmers, attacking me personally.
> I recognize that people are free to say whatever they like, but the
> raised by Mr. Sujovolsky and Dr. Chalmers deserve comment.
> First, the USOC Sport Science RA program offers Masters level or better
> graduates in biomechanics (as well as exercise physiology and sport
> psychology) one to two year appointments. The salary is $19.7K a year,
> with full medical/dental and insurance benefits (one of the best medical
> packages going). Housing is not provided (the Training Center is near
> full capacity with coaches and athletes).
> The two positions offered each year are, in essence, "post-doc" like
> opportunities for Masters level biomechanists. These positions are
> competitive. Every year the quality of our applicants (usually 25 to
35 in
> number) increases, in terms of skill sets, research and/or service
> experience, computational abilities, etc. We have been blessed with
> outstanding RAs every year, thanks largely to the high quality academic
> based biomechanics programs conducted throughout the country.
> As one of our current RAs said, paraphrasing what she wrote in her
> to Mr. Sujovolsky, "the USOC RA position is more than just a job." She
> said, "students with graduate degrees in biomechanics cannot expect
to walk
> into quality positions right away. There are too few positions
> and too many graduates. Graduates must therefore separate themselves
> the others by acquiring unique skills and experiences." The USOC offers
> experience working with elite coaches and athletes from a wide array of
> sports, with an unlimited set of science needs, using many different
> analysis and measurement systems (custom and commercially available).
> Addressing the broader issue of what biomechanics graduates can do after
> completing their programs and its relation to our RA program, many of
> past RAs have gone on to obtain doctorates in biomechanics and are
> currently in academia. Others have found employment with big name
> equipment/shoe manufacturers, motion capture equipment companies, and
> various biomechanics laboratories supporting clinical or sports research
> in academia and/or private industry. Further, many of those who have
> on to get their PhDs have remained in contact with us and USOC/National
> Governing Body (NGB) sport programs. They participate in our SS&T
> research grant program, and contribute to NGB educational, service, and
> research programs. The backbone of Olympic Sport science is thankfully
> supported, in part, by these individuals and their academic based
> programs. If one measure of a program's success is the success of its
> "graduates," we feel our program should be considered very successful.
> I am annoyed that Mr. Sujovolsky did not post the response written by
> of our RAs concerning our program. The posting was not saved in an
> outgoing e-mail folder here, so I cannot duplicate it in this
message. I
> would hope that Mr. Sujovolsky would post it in the near future
> he did receive it) and any others like it to provide some balance on
> issue.
> Finally, if Dr. Chalmers has any questions or concerns about how I
> my position or my job performance at the USOC, I encourage him to
> Walt Wilson, our Division Director, at 719-578-4851. Further, if Dr.
> Chalmers would like clarification as to why he was not selected for the
> biomechanics position, assuming he did apply, he is welcome to call the
> above number.
> Sincerely,
> Jeffrey P. Broker, Ph.D.
> Sport Biomechanist, USOC
> 719-578-4588
> jbroker@usoc.org
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