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

Sports Just Don’t Make Sense

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on November 29, 2015 The Power of Prime
Sports just don’t make sense. They don’t always go the way we want them to. Sports can be so frustrating. To the point where it’s easy to wonder why we devote so much time and energy to it. Let’s look at why sports don’t make sense. Sports are complex. Sports are unpredictable and uncontrollable. Nothing comes quick and easy in sports. Progress isn’t steady.

Do Stronger Muscles Mean Better Brains?

It's not what you do with muscles - it's what you did to make them.

In Discussing "Youth," Jane Fonda Touches on "Superfluidity"

Jane Fonda recently described the awe-inspiring aspects of having a peak experience while discussing her upcoming movie 'Youth.'

The Rise and Rapid Reduction of 'Rowdy' Ronda Rousey

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on November 24, 2015 Black Belt Brain
Even though we enjoy watching the best athletes demonstrate their skills, we also like to see skillful, but super-confident athletes get beaten. Is it because we cannot identify with them?

Why Exercise Isn't Always a Panacea

Just because some exercise is great for us doesn’t mean these benefits extend indefinitely. It turns out that yes, you can exercise too much: Beyond a certain point of exertion, our bodies—and our minds—start to break down.

My First Marathon

Want to run a marathon? As with many things in life, the combination of perseverance and luck are often all you need. For me, it was mostly about continuing to put one foot in front of other and hoping for the best.

Three Brain Doctors Expose “Untold Story” in “Concussion"

By Harry Kerasidis M.D. on November 17, 2015 Brain Trauma
As audiences worldwide examine the film’s controversial CTE topic, Drs. Daniel G. Amen, Theodore Henderson and Harry Kerasidis, point to advanced treatments and tools available now to battle the brain injury epidemic.

How Athletes Can Address the Psychology of Injury

By Laura M Miele Ph.D. on November 17, 2015 The Whole Athlete
What we can learn from Lamar Odom.

Letting Go of Fear of Failure-Part IV

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on November 17, 2015 The Power of Prime
Fear of failure is about the perceptions that you hold about failure and, for the vast majority of people, those perceptions are entirely disconnected from the reality of their lives. You perceive that bad things will happen if you fail, but the reality is that nothing particularly bad, aside from some disappointment, will likely result from a failure.

Who Should Help Pay for Yoga?

By Marlynn Wei M.D., J.D. on November 17, 2015 Urban Survival
Here are four reasons why health insurers should pay attention to yoga programs and help us pay for them.

Motivation Is Tied to the Strength of Your Brain Connections

Would you identify yourself as someone who is highly motivated or more apathetic? Neuroscientists at Oxford University recently discovered a neurobiological mechanism that might explain why some of us are inherently more ambitious than others. The findings also explain the neuroscience of why "Just Do It" is such a motivational slogan.

The Real Fear in Fear of Failure: Part III

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on November 10, 2015 The Power of Prime
The real fear is not failure, the meaning you attach to failure, or even total failure. Instead, the real fear of failure is about the fear of experiencing the painful emotions that young people think they will suffer if they fail.

"Superfluidity" and the "Hot Hand" Are Synonymous

Recently, David Remnick wrote a brilliant article in the New Yorker, Bob Dylan and the “Hot Hand," which reminded me of concepts I’ve been trying to convey about the extraordinary—but also universal—experience of “superfluidity.” After reading Remnick's essay, it's clear to me that "the hot hand" and "superfluidity" occur both in sports and the creative process.

Why 'More Research Needed' May Be a Concussion Cop Out

By Harry Kerasidis M.D. on November 06, 2015 Brain Trauma
People may dismiss concussions as the great unknown, based how many times this phrase comes up. The fact is, we do know a lot, and need to leverage what we know into advanced tools, practical protocols and efforts for concussion management.

Jeering the Mets

Gloating over the Met’s loss, jeering at Daniel Murphy's error, conflating a “failure” with an identity is precisely the mentality that twists lifestyle differences into hatred and homophobia.

Will Obesity Bankrupt the United States in the Near Future?

As of November 2015, over 30 percent of adults in the United States are considered obese. The economic cost of the obesity epidemic is mind-boggling. Two new studies report that obesity-related healthcare is costing American taxpayers and individuals hundreds of billions annually in medical bills. What can each of us do to reduce the healthcare costs of obesity?

Why We Must Listen to Dahkota Kicking Bear Brown

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on November 03, 2015 Brick by Brick
By sharing his story, Dahkota Kicking Bear Brown shows that if you stand up for your convictions, you can fight racism and make real change happen in the world

Do Professional Sports Reflect Modern American Whining?

By Stanton Peele on November 02, 2015 Addiction in Society
Are sports stars and their management reflecting a culture-wide loss of authority?

High Tech Medicine Can Be Bad For Your Health

By Allen J Frances M.D. on October 28, 2015 Saving Normal
Too many doctors have gotten into the habit of treating lab tests, not patients. This can lead to over treatment and disastrous medical mistakes.

"Hey This Isn't A Competition And You Have Cooties So I Win"

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on October 25, 2015 Ambigamy
When we want to end arguments without admitting defeat we often accuse our opponents of having negative emotions which we treat as the equivalent of having cooties. Here's how it works and why its not just insulting to them but dangerous for us to end arguments this way.

Howler Monkeys Have a Deep Voice or Big Balls But Not Both

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on October 22, 2015 Animal Emotions
Howler monkeys have low sexy calls or big balls, but not both. While this research "has no practical application to human mate choice … some research has suggested that men with deep voices have more sex partners, and therefore more opportunities to reproduce. But another study showed lower sperm quality in deeper-voiced men." Oh wouldn't it be nice if … or would it?

Bike Helmets for Brain Safety

Is wearing a bike helmet really necessary? And what about helmets for pee-wee football?

Stop Thinking Positively

By Alex Korb Ph.D. on October 19, 2015 PreFrontal Nudity
These days we're inundated with messages about the power of positive thinking, but sometimes positive thinking can actually interfere with success. Fortunately, there is another way.

5 Psychological Lessons from Marathon Running

Marathon running is intense and dangerous. So why do some of us take on this kind of superfluous activity? Here are five psychological factors that help us understand the nature of marathon running.

Baseball is Magic (When You're Seven Years Old)

By Steven Schlozman M.D. on October 18, 2015 Grand Rounds
Why Baseball is Magic in the Low Light of October

Neuroscientists Decrypt the Mystery of Rapid Eye Movements

In a groundbreaking study, neuroscientists have decoded the mysterious brain mechanics behind rapid eye movements.

The Playground is Dangerous, But the Soccer Field Isn't?

By Richard Rende Ph.D. on October 15, 2015 Inside Parenting
Parents may seem overprotective about play, but they aren't about sports. So are parents really risk aversive, or are they making decisions about potential benefits of activities?

Why Are FanDuel Television Advertisements So Effective?

Fantasy sports companies make ingenious use of psychology to attract new customers and grow rapidly.

7 Ways to Protect Your Joints in Yoga

By Marlynn Wei M.D., J.D. on October 12, 2015 Urban Survival
Here are useful tips to make sure your wrists, shoulders, hips, and elbows stay safe when doing yoga.

Five Ways Teams and Leaders Can Deal with Negative Attention

By Laura M Miele Ph.D. on October 12, 2015 The Whole Athlete
Great communication and mental health awareness are present in successful teams like the New England Patriots. Coach Belichick and Tom Brady have exemplified their leadership skills and created a mentally tough team that can turn negative energy into something powerful.