Jumping for joy — and gold
In his Sports Ethics course, Shaun Hamilton teaches mostly sports management majors about developing moral reasoning skills in sports like professional football, basketball or baseball.
But outside of the classroom, Hamilton is mainly focused one sport — jump rope.
Hamilton — an adjunct professor and a doctoral student at UD — serves as the co-founder and president of the International Jump Rope Union, the international governing body for jump rope/rope skipping. IJRU hosted the 2023 World Jump Rope Championships in Colorado Springs.
“Jump rope was just different,” he said of his start in the sport. “It gave [me] a creative outlet — the ability to create, be imaginative and physical all at the same time.”
When he’s not busy on campus, he’s traveling all over the world for various jump rope competitions.
It’s a passion he’s had for more than 30 years. As a child, he joined a jump rope team to make friends at his new elementary school in Sweetwater, Texas. As he continued the sport into high school, he would often get teased by kids on his football team about how he jumped rope. His own coach told him that it wasn’t a real sport, and that he shouldn’t waste his time on it.
“All that teasing went away the second they saw us jump.”
“All that teasing went away the second they saw us jump,” Hamilton said.
That conversation motivates him to this day, Hamilton said. He wants to show people that jump rope is a real sport that requires just as much time and effort as any other.
Hamilton claimed U.S. national titles in 1999 and 2003 and the Fédération Internationale de Saut à la Corde-International Rope Skipping Federation (FISAC-IRSF) World Championship title in 1999 in St. Louis. He co-founded the World Jump Rope Federation in 2009 and has served as its chair since 2010.
Currently, jump rope is not considered a sport by the International Olympic Committee, but Hamilton is looking to change that.
“Jumping rope being included in the Olympics is one of my key goals and there’s a lot of steps that need to be taken to achieve that,” he said.
“I travel extensively and meet with different groups around the world producing world championship and international events in order to meet those qualification standards and keep the sport moving forward.”
The official Olympics website showcased the World Jump Rope Championships in July, one indicator that it is considering the addition for 2028, Hamilton said.
“[It was] the largest world championship and viewing audience we’ve ever seen,” he said.
Hamilton said he’s hopeful that jump rope will earn its spot in the international spotlight soon, going all the way for gold.
Photos courtesy of the International Jump Rope Union