Want to get your kicks with Dan Bailey? Thanks to an interactive exhibit at The Perot Museum of Nature & Science in downtown Dallas, you can do that and more. Hey, there are lots of NFL players like Dan Bailey that have been named to the Pro Bowl. But how many of those players are so good at their jobs that they’re featured in a museum?
Inside the Perot Museum’s Sports Hall interactive exhibit, you can perform the same tasks as top athletes, then see how you compare to the best at their respective sports. It’s terrific if you’re a Cowboys fan. Not only can you kick a football like Dan Bailey, you can also try to throw a pass like Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach!
Is soccer your sport? Try to head a soccer ball like Abby Wambach. Maybe hockey is your favorite. If so, fire a slap shot like former Dallas Stars player Joe Nieuwendyk. If you’re got game, pass a basketball behind your back like Hall of Fame player Nancy Lieberman. Those of us who enjoy watching gymnastics during the Summer Olympics should try to do a cartwheel like Madison Kocian of the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy. Did you ever take dance, specifically ballet, when you were young? Maybe you want to dance a pirouette like Amber Merrick of Dallas Black Dance Theatre.
The goal of the exhibit is to use sports to teach physics, physiology, and the study of the body in motion. Basically, it’s a hands-on science lab in which video cameras record kids (and kids-at-heart) performing their task (kicking a football, heading a soccer ball, etc.), then comparing their form side-by-side at a computer terminal to video of the pro athletes completing the same task. It’s side-by-side, slow motion.
“I was a huge honor and the whole idea is cool,” Bailey says of his role in the exhibit. “I was approached about it and thought it was a great idea, just the principle of applying sports to learning more about science. As a kid it would’ve been sweet to go into a museum and compare yourself to players you really looked up to. So when they asked, I said ‘Sure, this is awesome. Let’s do it!’
“So I went to the museum and they had a team of technicians that explained the process. We did five to ten takes because I was being a perfectionist. It was fun when they filmed it and explained how it would be implemented. My wife and family think it’s awesome. I’ve heard from friends who videoed themselves kicking with me.”
But what kind of feedback has Bailey received from his Cowboys teammates?
“I haven’t gotten any feedback from anybody on the team or anybody on the coaching staff because I don’t know if they’re the museum-going types,” laughs Bailey. “That’s okay with me because they would give me a hard time.”
Sorry, Dan, but since joining the exhibit in the summer of 2013, thousands of people have tried to kick a ball like you. In other words, the cat is out of the bag. The good news is the reviews are positive, especially from your boss. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett thinks you’re the perfect choice for kids to emulate at the museum. In fact, Garrett hopes young people emulate you in more than just athletics.
“He’s as good an athlete as we have, he competes favorably with all the great athletes and he’s very talented, but it’s his approach that I appreciate the most about him,” Garrett says of Bailey. “His distinguishing trait is his mental approach to the game and how professional he is. He’s the exact kind of guy you want kids to emulate. He has a serious mindset and it reflects in his performance on the field, and he’s a great role model as well off the field.”
If your family or school group is visiting downtown Dallas, the Perot Museum has quickly established itself as one of North Texas’ top attractions. As a Cowboys fan, it’s fun to see how you compare to all-time great players in team history like Dan Bailey and Roger Staubach. Oh, and you can also race the T-Rex or cheetah at a separate exhibit in the same room of the museum. You won’t win the short spring on the running track, but as Coach Garrett and Dan Bailey like to say, it’s all about the process. Most importantly, you’ll have fun while learning about science. And that’s a win-win for everyone!