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

The Power of Questioning in Sport Coaching

The coaching process continues to evolve. It appears that coaches are increasingly incorporating questioning into their training sessions. This article examines some of the potential benefits of such an approach.

The Psychological Transition From College to Pro Sports

Athletes moving into professional sports are often not prepared for the psychological challenges that lie ahead of them. If this transition is not dealt with properly, the consequences can be detrimental in the long run.

How Does Scent Drive Human Behavior?

Researchers have identified how specific scents can motivate your decision making.

A Workover: Should You Follow Your Passion?

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on June 29, 2015 in How To Do Life
Advice I gave to a caller to my NPR-San Francisco radio program.

Born in the USA

When the 4th of July comes around, do you find yourself getting all patriotic? That’s OK – it’s part of our evolved coalitional psychology. Read on to find out why!

Physically Active Children Grow Up to Be Healthier Adults

Why are children who exercise regularly more likely to remain healthy and fit into adulthood?

The Psychology of Competition

Competitions are fun, let’s be honest. At one point or another, you probably have enjoyed being part of some kind of competition. Of course, competitions are more fun if you actually “win” (but for you to win, someone else must lose). Given this basic inequality: can competitions promote pro-social behavior?

When the Student Is Ready the Teacher Will Appear

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on June 23, 2015 in Black Belt Brain
With some work and awareness, we can be ready to appreciate and learn many things we might otherwise overlook.

Overinvolved Parent of the Week: P Diddy

By John Tauer Ph.D. on June 23, 2015 in Goal Posts
Sean "Diddy" Combs allegedly attacks UCLA football coach after son's practice

How to Kick Fatigue? Try Science’s New “3-Day” Rule

By Mark Travers Ph.D. on June 23, 2015 in The Sports Mind
Three days of post-workout recovery may be the optimal time needed to return to top form.

A St. Louis Cardinal Sin?

By Michael W Austin on June 20, 2015 in Ethics for Everyone
All parties in sport should seek to exemplify sportsmanship, whether on the field or via the internet.

Men in Sexist Countries Win More Olympic Medals

By Mark Travers Ph.D. on June 19, 2015 in The Sports Mind
A new study challenges the claim that gender equality promotes Olympic success.

Master Your Athletic Frustration

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on June 18, 2015 in The Power of Prime
Every athlete, from juniors to Olympians and pros, has experienced the feeling of frustration when they’re not able to do something, whether physically, technically, tactically, or competitively: you feel stuck, get tense, lose focus, and get discouraged. The best way I can describe the feeling is: AAARRGGHH!! It is a truly infuriating feeling.

How Psychologists Can Help Curb Cheating in Sports

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on June 18, 2015 in The Squeaky Wheel
It seems as if every week a new scandal involving cheating and antisocial behavior in sports is capturing the headlines—and psychologists are finally stepping in to solve the problem.

Abusing Your Body Through Exercise

Stress and obsession characterize muscle dysphoric disorder.

Miyamoto Musashi and Vision In Martial Arts

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on June 17, 2015 in Black Belt Brain
Seeing is believing but can training help refine what we actually perceive?

The Golf Decathlon—Motivation and Ability Put to the Test

Ever wonder what goes on in the mind of someone playing 10 rounds of golf in one day. Here's your chance to take a glimpse by following my thoughts from the golf decathlon I just completed.

Why I Ran a Marathon

By Sam Louie MA, LMHC on June 15, 2015 in Minority Report
People run marathons for a number of reasons: to get in shape, to raise awareness for a cause, to remember a loved one. I ran a marathon to "find" myself. Athletic endeavors are more than just physical pursuits. They can be a means to reflect parts of your soul that yearn to be tested and seen. I just had no idea what I would find by doing so myself.

The Problem With Youth Sports?

By John Tauer Ph.D. on June 14, 2015 in Goal Posts
What has happened to the innocent world of youth sports?

A Crash Course on Gender Differences - Session 5

By Eyal Winter on June 12, 2015 in Feeling Smart
Men, Women and Competitiveness

Kids Are Safer Outside Than Inside Their Homes

A recent report on risky outdoor play tells us that our children are actually healthier when they are less supervised and outdoors in unstructured play than indoors and supervised by their parents. Overprotective parenting may actually be doing children more harm than good.

The Best Defense Against Jet Lag? Ask the NBA

By Mark Travers Ph.D. on June 10, 2015 in The Sports Mind
NBA teams may be getting better at mitigating players' jet lag.

The Internal Battle of Sport

By Tim Carey Ph.D. on June 10, 2015 in In Control
Finding a space above the hum-drum, where the bigger picture becomes clearer to you, is the key to calming turbulent waters.

3 Steps to a Music-Enhanced Workout

Music can help make your workouts more efficient and effective (if used correctly). Here's how.

LeBron James, the Underdog?

By Mark Travers Ph.D. on June 04, 2015 in The Sports Mind
On the eve of the NBA finals, people are finding reason to like LeBron more than ever before.

Tired of Being Judged? Try This.

We are being bombarded with implicit and explicit judgments in our professional and personal lives. Does constant evaluation take a toll on our psychological well-being?

Violent Crime Linked to Male Sexuality

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on May 29, 2015 in The Human Beast
In a recent post, I described how women are catching up on men in terms of criminal violence. Yet, the difference remains large and calls for explanation. Much of the gender difference is explainable in terms of male sexuality and societies where men compete directly for mates have more criminal violence.

FIFA Fo Fum I Smell the Blood of Corruption

What’s most shocking about the FIFA corruption scandal is that it has been going on for so long with so many people aware of it and yet the majority turning a blind eye to it.

New Trends Show “Real Progress” for Concussion Care

By Harry Kerasidis M.D. on May 27, 2015 in Brain Trauma
Concussion safety isn't moving fast enough on most sports levels, so leagues, states -- even countries -- are stepping in to step up concussion education, baseline testing, and related recovery protocols. It's a new era of governing concussion safety.

Return of the King—LeBron James, That Is

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers' sweep of the Atlanta Hawks last night to capture the Eastern Conference title and earn themselves a trip to the NBA Championship Series is—certainly for Cavs fans—cause for considerable celebration. And what a vindication! . . .