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Competition impacts the mind2 min read
February 16, 2016
In light of the many domestic violence charges and lack of role models in sports, athletes have come under fire, with blame being put solely on them. Before we judge and apply every stereotype in the book to these athletes, let’s look how competition impacts them.
In youth, competition is embedded in every aspect of life for athletes, with parents pushing for their children to join organized sports.
Early on, the message is to “have fun” and learn skills like sportsmanship, cooperation and communication. Traits like these are vital in developing an all-around athlete because they have nothing to do with talent or athleticism, but with the mind.
Former De Anza College football head coach Dan Atencio explained the mental health affects and how he pushed his athletes to focus on that aspect of the game.
“It’s very important,” Atencio said. “We talked about concentrating, dealing with the emotions of competition, self imagery, setting goals and having a proper attitude.”
According to an article by Donna L. Merkel of Bryn Mawr Rehabilitation Hospital, once the youth grows up and starts specializing in a particular sport, the message goes from “having fun” to “winning is everything.” This change in mindset is detrimental to an athlete’s mental development, leading to problems on and off the field.
These problems arise because the athletes are not monitored properly, allowing them to get sidetracked and start playing for the wrong reasons. When the focus shifts to winning, a competitive sport turns into a high-pressure job that can lead to career-ending mistakes, according to Livestrong.
“When it comes to pressure, we talk a lot about controlling the things that are controllable,” said De Anza baseball head coach Erick Raich. “Some things you can’t control so just focus on what you can control and everything will fall into place.”
Sports has always been looked at as an outlet to relieve aggression and stress, but recently, athletes have not been able to keep that anger on the field which has culminated in a slew of domestic assaults from athletes all across the sports world. In line with the domestic issues are the drug and alcohol arrests that are reported daily on ESPN.
The off the field issues above are the product of athletes facing extreme pressure during competition without proper guidance allowing them to veer off towards delinquency. In no way is this an excuse, but it does show the fragility of an athlete’s mind and how competition can be the reason for their going over the edge.
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