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

13 Things You Never Knew About College Admissions

By Bella DePaulo Ph.D. on April 28, 2017 in Living Single
Evidence-based answers to some of the thorniest questions about fairness in college admissions.

Boys Under Pressure

By Adam Price Ph.D. on April 25, 2017 in The Unmotivated Teen
Why your son won't do his homework.
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Results Aren’t the Only Criterion of a Successful Season

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on April 20, 2017 in The Power of Prime
The end of a competitive season is a time to look back and evaluate what kind of season you had: one to be proud of or one to reflect on with disappointment.

Sports Are Games Played by Humans

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on April 16, 2017 in Black Belt Brain
Sports are played basically everywhere--but they aren't played at crime scenes. Time to push back on instant replay and slow-motion dissection of every event.

Semen Quality and the Menstrual Cycle

By Jesse Marczyk Ph.D. on April 06, 2017 in Pop Psych
Biology is costly, and organisms only invest in it when the probability of returns is deemed high enough

Dropping the Ball

By Sam Louie MA, LMHC on April 02, 2017 in Minority Report
Whippings, lynchings, and killings of African-Americans are outlawed in this country but white NFL owners are showing us how they can operate like 19th century plantation "masters"

What to Do if Your Child Feels in Competition With Your Work

By Suzanne Gelb Ph.D., JD on March 30, 2017 in All Grown Up
Is your child feeling in competition with your work? It can be possible to have a satisfying, meaningful career and be an attentive, loving parent. Try these universal guidelines.

The Split-Brain: An Ever-Changing Hypothesis

In 2005, I created a new split-brain model with my father, Richard Bergland, who was a neuroscientist. Since his death, I've updated these blueprints to reflect the latest science.

Is There Feminine Muscularity?

By Pirkko Markula Ph.D. on March 29, 2017 in Fit Femininity
Is sculpting a muscular body feminine? There are several options for women to display visible muscularity.

The Loneliness of the Secret Spot

By Greg Dillon M.D. on March 27, 2017 in Surf-Head
Is the guilty pleasure of your secret spot not quite cutting it? Maybe it's time to evolve...

Humility and Sports

Sports can be a school for the virtue of humility, but many aren't allowing this to happen. Fortunately, we can change this, if we are intentional about it.

Disney Research Pioneers New Frontiers Using Virtual Reality

Walt Disney researchers are fine-tuning virtual reality (VR) technologies that could be used to improve athletic performance and many other "proprioception-based" daily activities.

Rebuilding the Brain From Concussions

By Harry Kerasidis M.D. on March 24, 2017 in Brain Trauma
Don't settle for "take two and call me in the morning." The brain responds well when we treat it well. Here's how to get those neurons firing on all cylinders.
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Finish Your Sports Season Mentally Strong

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on March 24, 2017 in The Power of Prime
For athletes in many winter sports, the competitive season is almost over. Regardless of whether your season has been great, mediocre, or terrible, you want to finish strong.

Evidence-based Basketball: Research on the NCAA Tournament

More than $10 billion is at stake this month as Americans bet on the March Madness basketball tournament.

Why Do Some Men Get Premature Championship Tattoos?

By Kevin Bennett on March 22, 2017 in Modern Minds
Why do some men get premature championship tattoos? Here are four reasons why you might go for some skin art that predicts a successful season for your favorite team.

The Transient Hypofrontality Edge

"Transient hypofrontality" is an elegant term to describe the possible mechanism for why running and other physical activity can alter our thought processes.

Poetry Lights Up Your Brain Like a Favorite Song, fMRI Shows

New research on the link between happy or scary musical cues—and the difference between reading poetry or prose—offer new clues about how the brain responds to music and poetry.

Physical Activity May Be a Drug-Free Elixir for Chronic Pain

Lower levels of sedentary behavior and higher levels of physical activity may be critical for maintaining effective endogenous pain inhibitory function, according to a new study.
Charles Darwin/Public Domain

Why Does Autism Still Exist?

By Barb Cohen on March 07, 2017 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
Some gene variants associated with autism are also significantly associated with high intelligence. “Smart” genes are advantageous from an evolutionary standpoint, so they persist.

Karate Kicking to a Song by Sia

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on March 07, 2017 in Black Belt Brain
This is a story about a woman you haven’t heard of who influenced a girl you probably don’t know but who did something with a singer you’ve certainly seen.

Are You the "In-Group" or the "Out-Group"?

By Joseph A. Shrand M.D. on March 05, 2017 in The I-M Approach
Banning immigration and growing the military may be tapping into an ancient part of our brain more than we realize. Putting up a wall that separates us is easier than we think.
www.123rf.com with permission

How Athletes Can Perform Their Best When it Really Counts

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on February 28, 2017 in The Power of Prime
It’s that time of the competitive season in many sports when results REALLY start to matter and it’s REALLY important that athletes perform their best.
Meena Kadri, used with permission

Manja Mania

As we watch the dismantling of the EPA here at home, the National Green Tribunal in India, its highest legal environmental authority, has been caught up in kite strings.

Regular Aerobic Exercise in Midlife Protects the Aging Brain

By Christopher Bergland on February 24, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Regular aerobic exercise benefits the brain in surprising ways. New research suggests that regular aerobic exercise in midlife can optimize blood flow networks as the brain ages.

Highly Creative People Have Well-Connected Brain Hemispheres

By Christopher Bergland on February 21, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
People who are highly creative have better connectivity between the left and right brain hemispheres, according to a new study by a team of international researchers.

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?