The Importance of Sports

Sports are more than just fun and games. From schoolyard chants to Super Bowl championships, playful competition finds its way into nearly all aspects of culture. Fighting to win draws on cooperation, concentration, coordination, and creativity—things worth striving for in their own right.

Here we offer commentary on why we care who wins, what drives us to go for the goal, and what leads to greatness on the playing field, on the chess board, or in the office. On your marks!

Recent posts on Sport and Competition

Low-Intensity Aerobic Exercise Has Surprising Brain Benefits

By Christopher Bergland on February 14, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
There is growing evidence that low-intensity physical activity has multiple brain benefits. A new study reports that easy aerobic exercise boosts visual sensitivity and perception.
CCO Creative Commons

What Young Athletes Really Need

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on February 14, 2017 in The Power of Prime
This article is aimed at early in the sports pipeline where the foundation of young athletes’ attitudes are laid, which often determines how long they stay involved in sports

Ignorance Is Not Bliss & Won't Make Concussions Go Away

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on February 13, 2017 in Black Belt Brain
The world? Not flat. Smoking? Causes cancer. Heavy collisions in sport? Cause concussions. Major sports leagues need to stop assessing blame and invest in solutions.

NBA Stars and Your Grandparents—Unexpected Similarities?

By Toby Ellmers on February 09, 2017 in Aging Brain, Aging Body
What can sport psychology tell us about older adult fall-risk?

A Life Lesson from LI

99 percent probability does not make it 100 percent definite. Don't give up!

How Do Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis Rewire Your Brain?

By Christopher Bergland on February 06, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
A groundbreaking new study has identified how the birth of new neurons (neurogenesis) combined with neuroplasticity can rewire the brain and reshape the mind.

War as a Game

By John A. Johnson Ph.D. on February 03, 2017 in Cui Bono
It may seem absurd that we have rules of fair play that regulate the way we conduct wars. The ethological concept of ritualized aggression may help to explain the Law of War.

What to Teach Young Athletes About Bullying

Bullying is a deplorable behavior that has no place in sports.

The Super Bowl and Sex Trafficking

What you probably didn't know about Super Bowl Sunday and its connection to sex trafficking.

Letting Go of Unattainable Goals Has Psychological Perks

By Christopher Bergland on February 03, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
A new game-changing study identifies an unexpected silver lining of depression: People with depression can let go of unattainable goals more quickly, which has psychological perks.

Why ESPN Is the Premier Learning Channel

By Joanne Broder Sumerson Ph.D. on February 01, 2017 in Research Notes
If you really listen, sports broadcasting provides significantly more substance than just the play-by-play of the game. These lessons are right there in front of us.

Can Slacklining be Good for the Brain?

By Tracy P Alloway Ph.D. on February 01, 2017 in Keep It in Mind
Can slacklining be good for the Brain?

Physical Activity May Protect Against Childhood Depression

By Christopher Bergland on January 31, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) may reduce symptoms of major depression during middle childhood (ages 6-10), according to a new first of its kind Norwegian study.
jaboardm / 123RF Stock Photo

Six Phrases That Weigh You Down on Game Day

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on January 31, 2017 in The Power of Prime
Imagine that, just before you enter a competition, someone forces you to put on a 50 lb. weight vest. How will you feel? Heavy and sluggish. And how will you perform? Poorly.

The First Day of Camp

Developing positive relationships goes a long in determining our effectiveness when working in teams. Here are some tips for effectively establishing strong relationships

Somebody’s Watching. Now What?

Does an audience improve or inhibit performance? It depends.

Even Competition is Cooperative

By Bernard L. De Koven on January 30, 2017 in On Having Fun
Is winning the real goal of games?

Watching Football Is a First World Guilty Pleasure

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on January 29, 2017 in Black Belt Brain
Many of us will tune into the upcoming Super Bowl. Enjoy it for what it is but also respect what these players go through. And see if there isn't a bit of guilt there too.

The Father of Modern Neuroscience Was an Athlete and Artist

By Christopher Bergland on January 27, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Santiago Ramón y Cajal is the father of modern neuroscience. He was also an extraordinary artist. On Jan. 28, his artworks will be shown in an American museum for the first time.

More Needs to be Done to Address the Severity of Concussions

Young athletes suffering from concussions may experience effects that can last for decades.
123rf.com with permission

Don’t Let Outside Forces Influence Your Sports Confidence

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on January 19, 2017 in The Power of Prime
Confidence is the most important mental “muscle” in sports. It is is a rather sensitive mental muscle that is easily weakened or injured, and difficult to heal and strengthen.

Warriors’ Calm Coach, Steve Kerr

By Elizabeth Wagele on January 17, 2017 in The Career Within You
“Kerr credits his father for his demeanor on the sideline as an N.B.A. coach: calm and quiet, mostly, and never one to berate a player.”

Wonderful Wickenheiser Inspired Greatness in Girls

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on January 14, 2017 in Black Belt Brain
An Olympic hockey champion and female trailblazer has retired. Hayley's interview in "Project Superhero" is excerpted here.

Edgy Goal Setting

SMART goals are a great idea. But how do you actually implement them? Interval Goal Setting is a straightforward way to use your own performance to set new goals.

We Need More Vulnerability and Empathy in Professional Coach

By The Research Lab on January 11, 2017 in The Fundamentals
The stressful environment of the coaching world. By Daron K. Roberts, JD.
CCO Creative Commons

How Media Use Hurts Athletes

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on January 04, 2017 in The Power of Prime
I now have a new pet peeve, namely, athletes having their phones with them and checking their social media during practice and at competitions.

Superagers Pursue Challenges with Gusto, Harvard Study Finds

By Christopher Bergland on January 03, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
What lifestyle choices and daily habits can keep your brain sharp well into old age? New research from Harvard Medical School offers some valuable clues.

Sports Psychology: Mind And Body

Is athletic performance only based on physical ability? Sports psychologists work with athletes to show that the mind (e.g., motivation) can also be a very important factor.

Picking a Winner

By Mark Borigini M.D. on December 30, 2016 in Overcoming Pain
These new research results should be of interest to those who suffer from chronic joint pain.

Rest or No Rest After a Concussion?

By Harry Kerasidis M.D. on December 22, 2016 in Brain Trauma
New research may confuse long-held beliefs of how to recover from a concussion. Here's the key, along with need-to-know answers to commonly asked questions about concussions.