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

Why Colin Kaepernick Is a Patriot

By Azadeh Aalai Ph.D. on August 31, 2016 in The First Impression
What is the difference between blind versus constructive patriotism, and how is that related to the latest NFL controversy?

What’s All the Fuss About Colin Kaepernick?

By Victor Lipman on August 30, 2016 in Mind of the Manager
I’m not saying I agree with Mr. Kaepernick or not. That’s irrelevant. What I am defending is his right to make this gesture... without being demonized.

10 Concussion Safety Tips for Fall-Winter Student-Athletes

By Harry Kerasidis M.D. on August 30, 2016 in Brain Trauma
For parents, school official and counselors, it's time to ask, what do I "need to know" about concussions going into this Fall / Winter sports season? Here's a starting point.
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Four Reasons Why Sport Coaches Don’t Do Mental Training

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on August 29, 2016 in The Power of Prime
Great sport coaches are also great intuitive psychologists who develop a deep understanding of the importance of the mind and help their athletes be mentally prepared.

Colin Kaepernick

By Sam Louie MA, LMHC on August 28, 2016 in Minority Report
Colin Kaepernick decided not to stand during the national anthem and his decision is being viewed as unpatriotic. While controversial, I believe this is a litmus test for us...

Proclaiming Your Wabi-Sabi Is a Cathartic Antidote for Shame

By Christopher Bergland on August 27, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
You don't have to be a Zen Buddhist to embrace the power of "wabi-sabi." Publicly acknowledging your imperfections can make you immune to the isolation created by shame.

3 Things Mental Strength Trainers Teach Olympic Athletes

Mental strength trainers help elite athletes perform at their best. Here are some of the skills you can apply to your own life.

Who Am I? Someone? Or Nobody?

By Tom Bunn L.C.S.W. on August 24, 2016 in Conquer Fear Of Flying
Celebrity is competitive. The outrageously competitive have no limits on what they do to get noticed. Winning often means being a bigger jerk than anyone else is willing to be.

It’s Better to Win Bronze

Measuring success by winning the Gold - or not.

Chimpanzees Choose to Cooperate Rather Than to Compete

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 23, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Comparative research continues to show humans aren't unique in displaying cooperative behavior. Nonhuman primates, other mammals, along with birds and fishes, show cooperation.

Politics, Values, and Youth Sports

With the political blitz on “values,” where do sports fit in?

Deconstructing Ryan Lochte's Shame and Fear of Vulnerability

By Christopher Bergland on August 19, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
Ryan Lochte is in the hot seat for his shameful after-hours behavior in Rio last weekend. Is his apology for "not being more candid and careful" enough to appease his shame?

Blame It on Rio Part 2

Ryan Lochte’s false reporting about a minor incident in Rio has put a blemish on the otherwise awesome 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Should he be forgiven?

Blame It on Rio Part 1

The US swimming debacle in Rio, spearheaded by all-star Ryan Lochte, is a timeless story of Young Male Syndrome.

The Neuroscience of Going from Machiavellian to Magnanimous

By Christopher Bergland on August 18, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
Why would four U.S. Olympic swimmers fabricate a story about being robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro? A new Oxford study explains the brain mechanics of self-serving behavior.

The Dark Side to the 2016 Olympics

By Azadeh Aalai Ph.D. on August 17, 2016 in The First Impression
Behind the pageantry, what are some of the hidden aspects to the Olympic games, and how do they trace back to the Nazi regime?

Olympics Bare Extreme Range of the Human Spirit

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on August 16, 2016 in Black Belt Brain
While we can aspire to Olympic ideals of decorum we often fail to adhere to their real life practice...a short coming not restricted to high performance athletes, of course.

When Sibling Rivalry Goes Awry

You may remember the days in the not so distant past when you were the envy of friends and family. “Your kids get along so well,” they would gush.

Are Olympians Addicted to Exercise, Work or Neither?

By Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. on August 16, 2016 in In Excess
Olympic athletes are dedicated to their profession and spend hours every day training and exercising. But are Olympic athletes addicted to exercise, their work, or neither?

Your Child and Sports

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on August 16, 2016 in How To Do Life
What's a parent to do?

Michael Phelps’ Heroic Journey Goes Far Beyond Gold Medals

By Christopher Bergland on August 15, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
Michael Phelps is the most-decorated Olympian of all time. He's also a role model for sharing intimate details of how he completed the hero's journey after hitting rock bottom.

ADHD and Michael Phelps: Medication Is Not a Crutch

Not taking stimulant medication for your diagnosed ADHD? You still have ADHD.

Athletes and Performing Artists: They're All Around You

This is an exciting moment when organizations and structures are increasingly connecting the performance issues and mental skills of both athletes and performing artists.

#PhelpsFace and the Neuroscience of Getting “in the Zone”

By Jordan Gaines Lewis, Ph.D. on August 11, 2016 in Brain Babble
What explains the swimmer's snarling face toward Chad le Clos before Monday's 200m butterfly?

The Struggle and the Triumph of the Olympics

One reason we love the Olympics is that we want to see others achieve incredible things, even through seemingly insurmountable challenges.

No Shame: Why Michael Phelps Deserved to Carry the U.S. Flag

By Jason Powers M.D. on August 10, 2016 in Beyond Abstinence
Two years ago, the most decorated Olympian of all time was so mired in depression that he thought about killing himself. His comeback on dry land inspires me the most.

Olympics May Increase Child Prostitution in Rio

By Michael Ungar Ph.D. on August 10, 2016 in Nurturing Resilience
With the Olympics has come more child sexual exploitation. A new film, in development, is focusing attention on what happens to Brazil's child victims when they grow up.
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Watching Video Is Great Mental Training

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on August 10, 2016 in The Power of Prime
Watching videos of yourself and the best athletes in the world in your sport is a powerful tool for strengthening important mental muscles such as confidence, intensity, and focus.

America's Obsession With Winners and Losers

By Ray Williams on August 09, 2016 in Wired for Success
America has an obsession with defining success and happiness by winners and losers. This attitude and behavior permeates everything from sports to politics and business.

Study: The Male Warrior Hypothesis May Be Real

By Christopher Bergland on August 05, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
Why are male athletes more likely to be touchy-feely after a sports competition than their female counterparts? A new study from Harvard University offers some interesting clues.