For the first time in its 40-year history, the United States Sports Academy is offering the public a free course.

In 1984, the Academy established the American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA), which is believed to house the largest collection of sport art in the world, and named Ernie Barnes as the first Sport Artist of the Year. Barnes was honored again in 2004 as part of the 20th Anniversary selection. He was the Official Artist of the 1984 XXIII Olympiad. His work, “Olympic Finish,” won in the graphic works category in the 2004 U.S. Olympic Sport and Art Contest.

The first online course being provided free of charge is the university’s Sport Art Appreciation class. It is the first of three free classes that people can now enjoy. A course on coaching basics and Olympism will also be available soon.

The Sport Art Appreciation course explores the works of the Sport Artists of the Year chosen by the American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) since 1984. Today, ASAMA contains the largest collection of sport art from world-renown artists in the world. The sport art museum is located in Daphne, Ala., and open free to the public from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Once you’ve completed this free course, you will understand the sport artists’ contributions to contemporary sport art history. You will also have a deeper appreciation of the cultural context of sport, its relationship to art, and the masters of that art. You will recognize on the balance beam or the basketball court, athletic achievement is often a thing of artistic beauty.

Betsy Smith, Director of Academic Administration and Continuing Education, teaches a similar course at the bachelor’s level at the Academy, which is the largest graduate school of sport in the world.

“I hope this gives people an appreciation of the connection between the artist and the athlete,” she says. “Also, people can learn how easy our online courses are to navigate.”

The Academy, also known as “America’s Sports University,” offers its courses 100% online, allowing students to take courses when they want and wherever they want. Rolling enrollment allows them to begin the courses whenever they are ready.

The final exam in the free course is open book, which means you may use your text during the exam. The exam consists of 50 multiple choice questions. There is no time limit for completing the exam.

Those who score 70% or higher on the final test may purchase Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and receive a certificate of completion.

Begin the course now by simply going to the course’s main page. Enjoy!