This recent example of violence and sports and poor sportsmanship caused me to think about this issue once again.
Here is another article I wrote on this subject.
How To Really Stop Violence In Sports
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D.
Violence in many sports has had a strong presence in the
media for quite some time. Brawls in baseball games
and players and fans acting in disorderly manners in sporting
arenas are quite commonplace today.
Because I am a psychotherapist who has worked with many
athletes and parents of athletes with anger management issues,
I would like to outline several strategies for ending the alarming
behaviors we see all too often in and around athletic contests.
Players, coaches and managers at all levels of competition
should be required to shake hands at the start and
end of each contest.
This simple gesture will remind athletes that they are
competing against fellow human beings during the heat of
battle. Furthermore, this simple act will promote
sportsmanship and set a good example for young athletes
and their parents.
Second, leagues should have clear rules outlining punishments
for various offenses in a clear and succinct manner. This will
help athletes to have an awareness of the consequences of
Similarly, penalties for fans who misbehave should be posted
and announced prior to all sporting events. Stating these
guidelines clearly will help make athletes and fans accountable
for their actions.
Some of the violence we see is related to drugs, alcohol
and gambling. The roles of alcohol abuse, substance abuse
and compulsive gambling and their connections to violent
behavior need to be studied more carefully by psychologists,
psychiatrists, social psychologists and sociologists.
Many athletes have long histories of being rewarded for being
aggressive. If one has been rewarded for being aggressive, it is
sometimes hard to shut down your aggressiveness when you lose
Consequently, there are a number of kinds of trainings
which could help athletes to get a better handle on managing
their thoughts, feelings and actions. These courses could include
training in meditation, self-hypnosis, conflict resolution,
communication skills, sportsmanship and spirituality.
Moreover, this kind of training should begin when the
athletes are age six or seven. It is never to early to teach
the importance of treating others with kindness, respect and
It has been said many times that the microcosm of sports mirror
the problems the macrocosm of society. There is a likelihood
that the violence that we find on the news, in video games,
on the roads, in movies, and on televison does have an
impact on our values, behaviors and attitudes.
My own view is that certain people imitate what they see,
while others do not. Perhaps, in time, we can identify who is at
risk for modeling this behavior and who is not.
Some athletes remain quite immature emotionally because
they spend so much time and energy developing their physical
skills. Also, some athletes who get an abundance of special
treatment develop a sense of grandiosity and feel they are above
the law and that laws do not apply to them. This grandiosity can
contribute to their impulse control.
It has also been known for some time that people from
violent families with a history of alcohol and substance
abuse are at at greater risk for behaving in a violent manner
than are people who come from families without these
disorders. Coaches, parents and league officials need to
be aware of this fact and monitor athletes whom are at risk
and intervene before an incident occurs.
Similarly, steroid use may be contributing to some
of the violence we see in some sports. The relationships
between steroid use and violence needs to studied and
monitored very careful, since this form of rage can be very
Last, parents, educators, coaches, owners, union
representatives, mental health professionals and
law enforcement personnel need to work together to
to build a more sensitive world in which we value
competition, but also cherish the importance of
the feelings of our fellow human beings.
Some athletes need to be reminded of the idea that, “Nothing is
so strong as gentleness.”
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D., is a Psychotherapist in River Edge, NJ. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 201 342-3663.