Sports Psychology – Two New Paragraphs

Whilst I work on something longer, two additions to the sports psychology summary:

The difference between sports psychology and psychotherapy/psychiatry is well illustrated by the fact that some of the attributes of top sportsmen are regarded by psychotherapists/psychiatrists as undesirable. Top sportspeople devote themselves entirely to their sport – neglecting family, social life, career. Some of the attributes of top sportsmen – the desire to crush the opposition, to win because it means that others lose – do not translate easily into success in normal life or into moral behaviour as most non-sportspeople would recognise it.
Broadcasters such as the BBC spend a lot of time presenting sport as an “inspiration to youth” – without much thought being given to the kind of life sport might be encouraging young people to adopt. One of the drivers behind the growth of organised sport in nineteenth century Britain was that sport encouraged moral behaviour – but it’s often lamented that the “Corinthian ideals” of Victorian sport included a hang-up about winning, and included the sense that sport was a form of training for life, not an end in itself. Both of those accusations are true, and neither of them excuse national broadcasters for missing the point that sport is not the ideal moral life compass that they would like it to be. It says something about our culture that Nelson Mandela – or pick the political/intellectual figure of your choice if Mandela offends – is held up as a role model in the UK somewhat less frequently than Steven Gerrard or Paula Radcliffe.

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