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

Four Ways to Help Your Kid to Be the Best Player on the Team

By Jonathan Fader Ph.D. on October 24, 2016 in The New You
You are your kid's most important coach. Learn how performance psychologists and mental conditioning coaches help youth athletes and parents to work together to develop talent.
CCO Creative Commons

Teach Your Child Athlete Healthy Perspectives

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on October 24, 2016 in The Power of Prime
Despite all that so many parents do for their children’s athletic pursuits, they often fail to provide them with the foundation of all of their efforts: perspective.

Music Can Be Rocket Fuel for Turbocharging Your Workouts

By Christopher Bergland on October 21, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
Do you need a source of motivation that inspires you to exercise more and at a higher intensity? If so, a new study confirms that listening to music makes exercise more enjoyable.

The Ageless Inspiration of Activity

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on October 20, 2016 in Black Belt Brain
Ever thought you were too old for something? Aging doesn't mean we have to get old. Getting old comes with all sorts of baggage that isn't a requirement of aging.

Do Uniform Colors Matter in Sports?

By Geoff Haddock Ph.D. on October 20, 2016 in Attitude Check
Does the color of a sports team's uniforms influence how they are perceived and how they behave? A look using archival data from professional sports.

Political Persuasion: Aim for the Heart, Not the Head

So long as a message is emotionally congruent and consistent, both fear and hope can be equally pervasive.

Risky Teenage Behavior Linked to Imbalanced Brain Activity

By Christopher Bergland on October 20, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
A new study from Dartmouth pinpoints the brain mechanisms linked to risk-taking and impulse control during adolescence. This discovery explains why teenagers are often reckless.
CCO Creative Commons

Five Ways to Get Coaches and Parents on the Same Side

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on October 18, 2016 in The Power of Prime
Across the many sports in which I work, when I ask coaches what their biggest challenge and source of stress is, the overwhelming response is parents.

Can Artificial Intelligence Make Us Happy?

Does AI spell the doom of humankind? Or should we welcome it? Given the significant limitations of human rationality, only AI can help humans to solve many difficult problems.

Your Amygdala May House Both Positive and Negative Memories

By Christopher Bergland on October 17, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
Positive and negative memories may be housed in specific regions of the amygdala, according to a new mice study. These findings offer many clues for overcoming negativity and fear.

Coping With Hormonal Ups and Downs

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on October 17, 2016 in How We Do It
Major hormonal changes across the menstrual cycle may influence a woman’s mood, well-being and performance. But apart from PMS side-effects are milder than often thought.

The Neuroscience of Finger Length Ratio and Athletic Prowess

By Christopher Bergland on October 14, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
Neuroscientists have found a correlation between finger length ratios and brain function. A new study reports that having a shorter index finger may indicate athletic potential.

A Presidential Headache: The Concussion Generation

By Harry Kerasidis M.D. on October 12, 2016 in Brain Trauma
The massive numbers of concussions are adding up to a generation of mental health problems. An opportunity awaits the next president, and ironically, it's not that expensive.

The Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx

By Gary Smith Ph.D. on October 12, 2016 in What the Luck?
Is success a curse?

Running May Help Repair Some Types of Brain Damage

By Christopher Bergland on October 12, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
Aerobic exercise triggers the production of a molecule that can repair some types of brain damage and speeds up communication between brain regions, new study finds.

A Team Approach to Developing Mental Skills

Do you ever get frustrated when other team staff members undermine your messages? Working with coaches around sport psychology can go a long way!

In Defense of the Value of Football

Despite the recent fears of CTE, football remains a valuable tool for developing youth.
James Reynolds

I Feel Like Going for a Run

By Thomas Webb Ph.D. on October 10, 2016 in The Road to Hell
Does how we feel about our progress influence how we pursue our goals?

On Being a Rabid Sports Fan

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on October 10, 2016 in How To Do Life
What's behind one super-fan's enthusiasm?

A Fundamental Source of Error in Human Judgment

By Gary Smith Ph.D. on October 07, 2016 in What the Luck?
We encounter it almost every day, yet almost nobody understands it.

Irisin: The "Exercise Hormone" Is a Fat-Fighting Phenomenon

By Christopher Bergland on October 05, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
A new study reports that the exercise-induced hormone irisin can reduce the number of mature fat cells by 20 to 60 percent. If you want to lose weight, irisin production can help.

Canine Sports

Is your dog looking for something new to do? Try out one of these fun canine sports. He'll get some mental and physical exercise and you'll get out of the house, too!
CCO Creative Commons

Set Healthy Expectations for Your Young Athlete

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on October 04, 2016 in The Power of Prime
Expectations communicate messages to your children about what’s important to you about their sports participation and establish a standard toward which they can strive.
U.S. Air Force Photo/John Van Winkle

Born to Run

By Stephen Gray Wallace on October 04, 2016 in Decisions Teens Make
Both unstructured play and highly structured sports offer real opportunities for personal growth.

10 Tips for Friendly Political Discussions

Although some of us like to “root for the underdogs,” most of us still want to be on the winning team. How do you discuss politics with friends who pull for the "other" team?
Labelled for reuse;

Goals Are Not What You Think!

By Tim Carey Ph.D. on October 02, 2016 in In Control
Goals are always about the outcome or result of particular behaviours, not about the actions that bring those results into being.

The Psychology of Greed Meets Today's Crisis in Sport

The authors of the study were surprised at how strongly greed was linked to certain aspects of psychopathy

Thousands of Genes Are Altered by Aerobic Endurance Training

By Christopher Bergland on September 24, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
A groundbreaking new study reports that aerobic endurance training can alter 3,400 RNA variants, associated with 2,600 genes. These findings have widespread health implications.

Trying to Explain the Inexplicable

By Gary Smith Ph.D. on September 23, 2016 in What the Luck?
We are tempted to look for psychological explanations for successes and failures, when the more convincing explanation is simply that people get lucky—and luck is fleeting.

View Concussion as a “Brain Sprain”

By Harry Kerasidis M.D. on September 20, 2016 in Brain Trauma
Defining concussions gets a variety of answers, so neurologist Harry Kerasidis outlines the brain injury and symptoms, by comparing it to the common ankle sprain.