Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Hazing among High School Athletes

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Hazing incidents among high school athletes have been increasingly common in recent years. Unfortunately, students and the broader community sometimes view hazing rituals as part of a tradition or naive school pranks. However, these dangerous behaviors can lead to serious injuries, and in some cases, death. Hank Nuwer details some of the earliest accounts of a hazing deaths in the United States which includes Edward Turnbach who became a victim on September 19, 1885 at A Hazelton, a high school in Pennsylvania.

Most recently, the Washington Post, reported an alleged incident involving several Ooltewah High School basketball team members in Tennessee.

There he found a 15-year-old freshman player covered in blood, urine and feces, Hamilton County District Attorney General Neal Pinkston told ESPN. Two sophomore players were holding the boy down, while a third teammate, a senior, shoved a pool cue up his rectum. The freshman was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery to repair his bladder and colon, which had been ruptured by the cue. The three alleged assailants were arrested and charged with aggravated rape. Read More

In light of current trends, professionals, survivors, students and athletic officials recognize the urgency of this social justice issue. Let’s look at how is hazing defined.

Michelle Chaney, M.D., MScPH from The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at the Massachusetts General Hospital, defines hazing as “any activity expected of someone joining or participating in a group that humiliates, degrades, abuses, or endangers them, regardless of a person’s willingness to participate.” In an article for the

Aside from the emotional and physical trauma sustained by the survivors of these occurrences, the statistics on hazing in high school athletics are equally compelling. One major academic study regarding high school athletic hazing is the Alfred University study (Hoover & Pollard, 2000). The results validate the prevalence of hazing in high school athletics and other student groups. In August of 2000, Alfred University conducted a research study titled, “Initiation Rites in American High Schools: A National Survey”. Using data from 1,541 respondents, results indicated the following:

  • 48 percent of high school students who belonged to groups conveyed being subjected to hazing activities.
  • 71 percent of the students subjected to hazing indicated negative outcomes, such as physical altercations, injuries, conflicts with parents, low academic performance, bullying, decreased appetite, insomnia, difficulty concentrating or emotional issues.
  • 36 percent of the students stated that they did not feel comfortable reporting hazing mainly because “There’s no one to tell,” or “Adults won’t handle it right.”
  • Only 14 percent replied they were actually hazed, but 48 percent mentioned they took part in behaviors associated with hazing. And 29 percent admitted they participated in possible illegal activities in order to belong to a group.
  • Regarding males, 48 percent were exposed to degrading hazing behaviors. 24 percent said they abused substances and 27 percent were involved in risky hazing behaviors.
  • Females were found to be regularly involved in various types of hazing at extreme levels: degrading hazing, 39 percent; substance abuse, 18 percent; and risky hazing, 17 percent.

These numbers highlight the frequency and range of severity of hazing incidents among high school students. They also give insight into the hazing culture. It also explains that some students are hesitant to speak up because they feel powerless or they lack confidence in the adults around them.

Many factors contribute to the cultural climate of hazing such as a belief that hazing practices are normal, incident under reporting, victim blaming and perpetrators sometimes receive modest sentences or no penalties whatsoever. According to the article “Bullying and Hazing in Youth Sports”, the author states that hazing is frequently exculpated as, “kids being kids”. Given that hazing rituals have existed since the 1600s, Psychologist Susan Lipkins argues that a substantial change in the world view of hazing would need to occur in order to increase personal and organizational accountability. Lipkins is the author of the book“Preventing Hazing,” which is a great comprehensive resource for anyone impacted by or concerned about this issue.

As a community, there are numerous ways to address hazing among high school students and athletes. The following are suggestions for national, state and local level involvement.

For prevention strategies to work, the National Federation of State High School Associations has:

  1. Created domestic policies around anti-hazing efforts.
  2. Designated a representative to generate a dialogue with athletic officials, parents and students about hazing and prevention.
  3. Created a website, (http://hazingprevention.org/) headed by Kim Novak, that provides like-minded professionals with training to impact the cultural climate around hazing. Organizational best practices recommend that schools take direct measures through anti-hazing task forces and organizational restructuring if necessary.

What can sports programs do?

Sports programs can develop team building activities to foster unity in addition to mentoring programs with upperclassmen, who assist their younger peers to reduce hazing incidents.

Nancy Rappaport, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, advocates high school administrators to do the following steps:

  1. Concurrence on what behaviors constitute hazing.
  2. Effective procedure application for addressing hazing incidents with clear outcomes.
  3. Guideline review with faculty, staff and students to promote awareness and incident reporting.
  4. Continuous policy analysis will decrease hazing incidents.

Michelle Chaney emphasizes that parents can help by:

  1. Informing their children about the risks of hazing.
  2. Urging teens to investigate the backgrounds of organizations before joining.
  3. Motivating teens to diversify friendships beyond extra-curricular activities.
  4. Encouraging teens to inform their peers their state’s anti-hazing laws. A great start to their research could be

Another opportunity to stay proactive is to participate in social justice activities. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)  and in September is National Hazing Prevention Week, which is launched by HazingPrevention.org. Community involvement in anti-hazing activities increases awareness and continues the conversation throughout the year.

In many cases, the alleged actions of the accused are not viewed as rape, sodomy or sexual assault by school administrators or the community at large. Erin Buzuvis, Professor of Law at Western New England University, writes about one case, Doe vs. Rutherford County, Tennessee, Board of Education, 2014, the school district believed that the alleged actions of the accused student athletes (“non-consensual anal penetration”) were not sexual in nature. Buzuvis elaborates that, according to Title IX, the court decided the event met the requirements for formal accountability.

Three main findings were presented by the court. First, the court established that the alleged actions were interpreted “as a sexual act that is a severe violation of an individual’s body and personal privacy.” Second, the court decided satisfactory proof had been presented to infer that school personnel were aware of the alleged activities.  Lastly, the court discovered adequate indication of conscious apathy by school officials involving a breach of procedure. Dr. Edward F. Dragan adds that if a Title IX allegation is submitted involving hazing and sexual harassment, litigant and offender representatives must investigate the nature of the behavior, how many participated and the level of mental trauma endured. Also, Dragan shares that a determination must be made as to whether or not school officials followed protocol in the case. Title IX has an important task in the legal aspects of hazing situations.

One valuable asset not shown in any of these cases is school social workers. According to the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), school social workers comprise 5 percent of the roughly 500,000 social workers in the United States. Furthermore, the NASW notes that critical thinking skills equip school social workers to develop and implement interventions such as violence and suicide prevention programs. Also, the NASW expresses school social workers utilize an array of theories and resources to provide students and community members with trauma, informed, care promoting restoration after a crisis. It is uncertain if their absence in these cases were due to a lack of awareness or another unknown factor.

By recognizing the long-standing tradition of hazing in our high school programs and implementing prevention policies across the board, we can eliminate future cases. Through increasing awareness and community outreach, we can empower survivors and teach youth the positive aspects of extra-curricular activities (i.e. fun, friendship and critical thinking skills). Acknowledging the problem, supporting youth and their families and encouraging accountability can transform hazing ethos and promote healing.

Passion of Parents in Youth Sports

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Parents really love to involve their kids in competitive sports.  Sometimes too much.

Sports is an ingrained part of the American landscape. It is so much a part of our daily lives that most people cannot imagine life without watching or playing on a daily basis.

A passion for sports is instilled in most kids from an early age. In my family, it was not so much. My mother took me out of baseball in kindergarten because the practices were too late at night. From that, my mother later extrapolated that it was somehow her fault that I didn’t become any good at baseball and, therefore, could not make millions of dollars. For her comfort, it can be noted that I never turned out good at any other sport either and made not a single cent as an athlete.

The Anomaly and The Norm

The anomaly of my situation was that my mother didn’t encourage my participation in sports. It is quite normal that parents want their kids participating in sports. They encourage it. Indeed, that translates into a majority of kids participating. A detailed article on data of youth sports, shows that 75% of boys and 69% of girls play.

For a larger estimate, thirty to forty-five million kids are involved in some sport and parents’ push to have their kids involved seems fueled by at least a little bit of grandeur and hope for the future. There are any number of articles already written about the nature of crazed parents pushing their kids to excel on the field.

Sometimes, parents and coaches push kids too far.

While encouragement and praise are natural coaching strategies, and excelling at the craft is mostly the point, there are still a lot of physical and psychological development concerns. Just the right balance needs to be considered from a coaching standpoint. That coaching should probably concern a more diverse life beyond sports, which considers health and well-being.

There are great ambitions that children and elders have and a good deal of growth that comes from athletic experiences. The encouragement is a positive, but the desire and success are the child’s own and can only be measured by their own standards. There is certainly a lot at stake. However, a wise gambler would know that the odds of failure far outweigh the opportunity for success.

My situation was also the norm because no kids are likely to grow up to make any money from sports, much less millions. Even the kids that grow up into excellent athletes also need a lot of fortuitous bounces to get anywhere in the business.

An NCAA chart outlines a picture of the chances that any given child will make it big. To be sure, it’s extremely hard to make it in sports. Most kids that play youth sports never end up playing high school sports. Then, very few high school athletes go on to play in college and very few of those make it professionally.

As the chart shows, with over 1,000,000 participants, football is by far the most common high school sport. Of those, 6.5% go on to play college football. Of those, 1.6% get drafted by an NFL team. For the best odds, baseball and hockey players are considerably better bets to make it to professional ranks than basketball, soccer and football. Still, the chances are pretty miniscule. About half of one percent of high school baseball players get drafted by major league teams. And most draft picks never see a major league field much less a multimillion dollar contract.

What is the cost?

There is a cost to every decision in life, particularly those that don’t pan out into big paydays. So, what are some of those risks?

A portrait of one slice of the American life shows a family who invests most of their time and resources in their kids’ athletics, driving the billion dollar youth sports industry, just for the hope that they become one of the five to ten percent that will go on to play varsity sports. At best, the parents are hopeful their children will learn great lessons from their experiences.

It is certainly true that people learn well from adversity. With only one winner, it would appear there is a lot of adversity in competitive sports. That may be a great learning experience, but are the kids having fun?  In one report, 84% wish they had more fun and 31% wish adults weren’t watching and putting pressure on them. This all seems to lead to the 70% attrition rate.

That’s not even the dark side. The top end of the spectrum isn’t terribly rosy, but what about the opposite end?

About three million children go to the emergency room every year from playing sports. Another five million are treated for minor injuries. So, while it is about a .01% chance any given child will wind up with a decent payday from sports, there is pretty close to a 100% chance they will get hurt.

The emergency room is not a great place to end up for kids in sports.

In October, a NYC teenager died after a collision in a soccer game. Eleven kids died playing high school football in 2015. While death and disability is fairly rare, they are no less than the odds of making it big. Moreover, minor injuries are not exactly minor.  

Concussions are easy to sustain and common among young athletes. They result in poor academic performance, attendance and the overall ability to learn. The younger a person is, the greater the issues surrounding head injuries. Also, the lifetime consequences of chronic pain result in treatments which create an entirely different array of problems, for example juvenile arthritis affects over 300,000 children. The magnitude of a future life of headaches and chiropractic visits is best realized by medical professionals. If nothing else, there are many more jobs created in the medical and insurance fields by more people getting and staying hurt.

There are endless untold complications from playing youth sports that go along with the billions of dollars spent on keeping kids playing.

Hedging Bets

I don’t mean to bash sports. There is no doubt to the growth opportunities. At the same time, I would argue that most of those lessons can be learned in other avenues, but there still is a redeeming value to sports. The idea of victory gives people hope and the execution of a game plan brings excitement.

The concept of sports doesn’t necessarily have to include the traditional big money sports. Light exercise is even better than high energy or contact sports. Combining exercise with academics helps students learn. For healing sake, many sport-like games can take the place of sports. For example, foosball is a great tool used in rehabilitation for injuries.

The point really comes down to, parents need to understand that not everyone can make it big in the same industry already flooded with talent. Moreover, kids take time to develop. Rushing into a sport they are not ready for can only risk injury and hinder development in other age appropriate areas. Somehow, many parents lose sight of the realities and try to live their own lost dreams vicariously through their children’s success.

Kids need to grow up according to their own dreams and desires. Success only comes from a person’s own initiative. It’s a hard balance. The younger start a person gets in life, the better they will typically be at something. On the other hand, it takes time to discover true interests.

Diversity always seems to be the key. The more options a kid has, the better.  

All the evidence in the world suggests kids that play sports have the best chance for success and the least chance for injuries when playing multiple sports. Likewise, a kid’s most well-roundedness will come not from being entirely immersed in sports, but also other outlets. I shudder to think however, what most parents who push their kids in athletics would think of them going into stage acting. The glory and bragging rights just wouldn’t be the same for those parents.

Balancing Punishments With Support Networks for Convicted Athletes

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Former New England Patriot, Aaron Hernandez, was convicted of 1st Degree Murder in April 2015

Criminal issues have certainly disgraced professional athletes with endless cases of murder, gun violence, domestic violence, drinking and driving, child endangerment, performance enhancing drugs, gambling, unauthorized videotaping, stolen crab legs, whatever the problem, there are daily scandals in the sports world.

The modern era of bad boys in sports dates back to 1994 when OJ Simpson may or may not have murdered his ex-wife, Nicole. He was acquitted, although he certainly endured a public execution and ended up in prison in 2008 anyway.

One problem in demonizing actions is by thinking something is new or shocking. However, the sports world has always been full of misappropriations. Athletes cheating or breaking the law is not new, or particularly shocking. It’s somewhat natural.

Athletes of All Ages Have Tried To Cheat the System

Performance enhancing drugs, for example, have been around a long time. They’ve only been highlighted more recently by rule changes regarding designer steroids. Still, doping has always been an issue. It was an issue going back to ancient Greeks using opium juice in the original Olympics and there are records in the 1940s of cyclists using amphetamines to help increase endurance. Across time, the supply has been different, not the culture.

The same can be said for gambling in sports. It is infrequently discussed enough to only be associated with Pete Rose or the 1919 Chicago Black Sox. These incidents were understandable in context of how they occurred and in context of history. From amateur to professional sports, gambling has been problematic in every era.

George Bechtel was banned from baseball in 1876 for conspiring to throw a game, and that was at a time when bookies circulated through the stands taking bets as if they were cotton candy vendors. As a 19-year-old semi-pro in 1907, future baseball hall of famer, Walter Johnson was purchased by Payette to pitch one game versus Caldwell with a heavy amount of betting. The original football golden boy and winner of the 1961 NFL MVP award, Paul Hornung, along with teammate Alex Karras, were suspended for betting on football. Denny McLain, the last pitcher to win 30 games to go with Cy Young awards in 1968 and 1969, was suspended in 1970 for gambling and quickly destroyed his baseball career on a path to prison.  

Players in the old days were not paid ridiculously high salaries as they are now. Baseball players were sometimes banned for requesting higher contracts prior to 1915. It took the formation of the Federal League in 1913 for player rights to be granted by American or National League owners. As the highest paid baseball player of his era, Ty Cobb made $20,000 in 1915, or roughly equivalent to just under $500,000 in 2015 dollars. The highest paid in 2015, Clayton Kershaw, makes over 60 times Ty Cobb’s adjusted-for-inflation salary.

It was assumed that players conspired with gamblers because they weren’t paid appropriately. As economics changed, players started to be paid more fairly and gambling became less of a problem overall, though the high salaries of modern players have resulted in high stakes gambling in many cases. Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley have been disgraced by gambling. Golfer John Daly is infamously known for his huge gambling losses. As well, modern day soccer players have lost millions in a psychosocial culture of gambling.

Gambling and doping are somewhat taken for granted as part of sports culture, but more violent behaviors, like murder (Aaron Hernandez), armed robbery (Clifford Etienne), child abuse (Adrian Peterson), and domestic violence are subject to harsher criticism. Whatever the social ill, there are many professional athletes guilty of transgressions. A Wikipedia list of crimes committed by athletes is longer than any team roster, many with mafia-like crimes.

Athletes have a drive to be competitive, a tenacity and fighting spirit. They have a desire to win at all costs. And when players of rough sports, like football, are so willing to throw their bodies into other bodies, how does such reckless abandon keep contained? That must be difficult, particularly for players from poor backgrounds subjected to violence as youth and/or with little education. To top it off, violence would seem more likely when condoned by coaches, such as the New Orleans Saints offering incentives for injuring opposing players.

Sometimes, giving someone millions of dollars just opens the door for millions of problems. That is the primary difference between the ages. In either case, it is not up to the athlete to behave. The athlete’s job is to compete at high levels. It is up to society to set the standards and provide the support, or lack of support, for player’s paychecks.

Leveling the Field

The big question becomes what penalties are appropriate? Should life be so strict as locking the door and throwing away the key?

No endorsement should ever be given to Ray Rice’s elevator incident and I personally would support a permanent ban in his, and similar cases. However, it’s also important to consider the element within human nature. Giving people a second chance provides hope.

Nobody is perfect. People know from the start that they will make mistakes. In fact, doctors in training necessarily need to make mistakes to learn. The differentiating factor separating a doctor’s success from failure is “knowledge of the repercussions and instill a character that doesn’t allow them to be the least paralyzed by the fear of the responsibility placed on their hands.” This means exactly that we must accept faults without being tied down by them.

There is much encouragement in learning and growing from mistakes and not being permanently locked away from another chance. The idea of the possibility of living only in fear and without hope is enough to make people more lenient toward criminals.

That much is evident with general prison populations. Most of the millions of prisoners in the United States will eventually be released and return to the public. With no hope or support, there absolutely will be a high recidivism rate. Oregon is admittedly progressive compared to many states, but still a heavy majority of Oregonians support rehabilitation efforts and services to prepare prisoners for reentry through job training, mental health, drug treatment and education. There is no reason to expect convicted athletes also wouldn’t benefit society better by having a support network. Some may say that due to their celebrity status and exceptional situations they would have even more need for certain services.

It is worth noting, however, that Oregonians also support close supervision of ex-prisoners. Basically, that means giving second chances, but with a short leash. My argument for not endorsing criminal activities while suggesting standards for athletes be in line with other people in society is similar. That is why Aaron Hernandez will serve life in prison. That is why Ray Rice shouldn’t get the golden path he had prior to his knocking out his wife. On the flipside, paying Sean Payton the richest coaching contract after a year long “vacation” is not congruent to what would happen in the rest of society.

When we let individuals off easy, we are not setting examples for the rest of society. Still, a second chance is crucial for the hope of future society. These are not individual problems because there are too many individuals committing the crimes. These are societal problems. Society needs room to breathe and recover from these problems.

Building Hope and Enforcing Accountability

Giving hope and holding people accountable can happen together. There are other avenues for Ray Rice beyond the football field. As a leader, or role model, maybe coach, Rice can still accomplish many great things. That’s up to him to show the strength to rebound from a reasonable punishment. Removing him from the game is part of the price paid for his actions. Holding him accountable makes the system fair and sends the message that assaulting other people is not okay.  

Society’s expectations for celebrities are pretty strict considering how many average people have problems staying out of trouble. This makes it problematic to expect more from athletes, yet we often judge them differently. What we need is the balance of toeing the line between knowing what is right, understanding consequences and feeling hopeful that we can succeed in the world despite lamentable actions.

Volunteer programs are one way that people can atone for mistakes. Even where people may come from poor backgrounds, the glamour and the spotlight may be too overwhelming. It is always significant to get people back in touch with more unfortunate situations to realize how bad things can be and how to correct problems to achieve better outcomes. That experience is too valuable to deprive from an individual and society.

Fans are the ones that have the ultimate power to hold athletes accountable. Fans support them with tickets, cable subscriptions and buying from advertisers. Society, in general, continues to offer massive financial support to pro sports leagues, even where they bash poor behaviors. In the end, people seem to still need entertainment in times of crisis. Modern life is full of endless war and strife, resulting in refugees in Hungary, Greece and Syria and elsewhere. At the same time, the Washington Post estimated that six million civilians have been killed by US interventions since WWII. We continue to support this carnage with tax dollars, so in some ways fans continuing to pay athletes for violence and cheating makes sense.

From my perspective, such social support shouldn’t make sense. While I am all for rehabilitation programs and giving outlets for the disgraced to continue to be successful, that doesn’t equal paying to support a destructive culture. There is enough entertainment to go around that I can spend my money elsewhere, so I focus on the betterment of society rather than being entertained by how bad boys can be. As long as fans give any attention, there is no room to complain. Athletes may be bad, but then we all are.

Meanwhile, September was the first month in six years that no NFL player was arrested. So, we’re getting somewhere, right?

College Recruiters Descending on Little League Sports

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Two stories in recent news about athletes and their potential sports future caught my attention. One highlighted football player Daron Byrden, a 6th grader, and the other basketball player LaBron James Jr., a 4th grader . There seemed to be quite a bit of excitement surrounding these young men as well as speculation on what they will do in their sport’s career. These boys may have a great future in professional sports, but it will be no time soon. So, why are they getting this notoriety now? Why are colleges knocking on their doors and they are not even close to being in high school?

Daron Byrden is already being called the “Future Tom Brady “ although Byrden is not being consider a college prospect as far as I know today (tomorrow who knows), his football development as well as his ranking is and now for all to see. Labron James Jr. at ten years old already gets attention just because of who his father is now he getting some added attention due to the fact he is playing good basketball, these days well, at least for a ten year old.

I began to think what is going on when kids are being recruited by colleges and getting national attention before they can barely cross the street by themselves, but unfortunately this is nothing new. In 1986, Indiana coach Bobby Knight watched a basketball player twice and recruited a young boy by the name of Damon Bailey who was in 8th grade at the time. Do you remember Damon Bailey? I am not surprised if you do not. Damon Bailey was Mr. Basketball USA and Big Ten Freshman of the year in 1991. In 1994, Bailey was drafted to the Pacers, but he was cut after one season. In retrospect, many feel Damon Bailey fell victim to the pressures that had been mounting on him to perform.

The social worker in me began to think about the effects of young children being recruited before they are teenagers as well as children getting national attention. We make a mistake as a society treating children as adults; in the same way we are in error when we treat young athletes as if they are professional athletes. There is a reason why parents have to set limits and boundaries with their children. It is because children are not developmentally ready to navigate through the pressures of life. This is even more true when trying to place a 10 year old in an elite athlete’s world.

The pressures associated with professional sports are already high, and even more so if you happen to be the son of maybe one of the best players in basketball history. Putting kids in the spotlight for their potential achievements, places a lot of pressure on them and diminishes their ability to be stress free kids. This kind of pressure if suffered long term could lead to mental health problems. We already know that 51% of young athletes stop playing sports by the age of 15. One reason kids are leaving sports is because it stops being fun due to the stress, pressure and unfair expectations dumped on them. It is no longer about having fun and the team, instead it’s about the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), year round training camps, getting faster and stronger as all eyes are watching, and of course social media.

When Bob Knight set his sights on Damon Bailey, we did not have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For James and Byrden, every move they make may be watched and replayed over and over. Every missed free throw, interception thrown, even a bad decision with their behavior off the court, as young kids make all the time, could make the news. Many professional athletes fail terribly after being in the spotlight of the public’s eye 24/7. Is it fair to place kids in adult expectations? Are we putting them at risk when placing them in these situations? I think we could be.

It is also important to note, parents responsibilities to be the gate keepers for their children who are athletes. Even LaBron James says he does not want colleges trying to recruit his kid. There is no way to really know how children will develop physically and how their development will impact the sport they play in the future.

Many things can happen between now and when it is time to play in the pros; injury is a big one.  Are we preparing these children for plan B? It is very possible that things do not go as planned. Are the adults in the room looking at the consequences that could be waiting? Issues like low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression could be waiting. It may be time to do a double take because at the end of the day these athletes are just children and instead of pushing kids into sports we could be pushing them away in a just a few short years.

Sports and Stress: Identifying Athletes’ Needs Off the Field

GBR: FA Respect Pr Shoot - Ray Winstone 23/02/2009

Parents are getting their children involved in playing sports more than ever before. Increasingly, young people are playing organized sports not only in school but through park districts and sport camps. Parents love the many life lessons that can be taught through sport‘s participation such as learning team work, responsibility, and being physically active.

However, 51% of youth athletes quit organized sport by the age of 15 years of age. Researchers are finding that some sports environments are linked to mental health problems for athletes, and these problems are pushing young people out of sports or it is making playing sports a less enjoyable experience.

When issues present themselves off the playing field, parents may want to ask, “Is it time to get help outside the lines or do we need professional help for our athlete?” Coming to this realization can be very scary for parents. The worry of not knowing what to do or how to help your child can be an uncomfortable place for parents to be in.

We get treated for colds, flu, sprained knees and ankles why not take the same approach when needing treatment for anxiety, depression, and adjustment issues, etc. All of these ailments must be treated by professionals. Parents should not allow fear or stigma to hinder their willingness to get help for a love one who is hurting.

The first risk factor I will focus on as part of a five part series is athletic stress.

Three Types of Stress:

• Traumatic stress is when a major event occurs. An unexpected death or a major accident. In sports it could mean a loss of position on the team or a major injury interrupting playing.

• Stress that is brought on by a sudden negative change. A divorce, job loss or a move. In sports it could be a change of position, losing a starting position or getting a starting position.

• Routine Stress or Sports Stress is related to the pressure of daily responsibilities. Some stressors could be the balancing act of school and sport, high intense practices, game day situations, parents over involvement or coaches win at any cost attitude.

Athletic Stress Management Tips:

• Seek a qualified mental health professional that understands athlete related issues.
• Get treatment for physical health problems.
• Recognize signs of stress in the body, such as changes in sleeping, low energy, mood changes, easily irritated or angry, behavior problems in school and use or increased use of alcohol and other substances.
• Have some family time when you do not talk about sports. Being an athlete can encompass a lot of a young person’s time. Make an effort to have other conversations other than sports.
• Focus on positives in the game not mistakes.
• When mistakes happen during a game parents should to be supportive not critical.
• Create a supportive environment on and off the field.
• Parents must manage their own behavior and attitude before, during and after the game.
• Remember to laugh and have fun.
• Stay encouraging and positive.

With all stress there are both physical and mental health risks; symptoms to look for are headaches, lack of sleep, depressed mood, anger and irritability. Continued exposure to stressors can lead to other health problems such as depression, anxiety, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Often times, we overlook the effects sports can have on athletes of all ages, but parents must ensure sure they are caring for both the physical and mental needs of their children who play sports.

Lance Armstrong: Classic Narcissist or Psychopath Maybe Both

by Deona Hooper, MSW

Lance Armstrong Interview w/Oprah

A media sandstorm was unleashed after Lance Armstrong did his tell all interview with Oprah on her cable network channel OWN this past Thursday night. The cloud of Armstrong using performance enhancing drugs during his seven Tour de France wins has loomed over the cyclist for almost 15 years. However, the allegations are now reality because Armstrong has finally admitted to doping in order to achieve his record wins.

Reporters, sports analysts, and former victims of Lance Armstrong have all used terms such as narcissist and/or psychopath to describe Armstrong’s behavior in conducting and protecting his doping scheme over the past decade. Lance Armstrong has built a reputation that has utilized tactics to literally destroy anyone both in character and financially who questioned, eluded, or reported any of his wrong doings. During  Armstrong’s  interview with Oprah, several videos were aired of Armstrong shaming and showing disdain for those who questioned his seven Tour de France wins.

We have seen this saga play out before with other high-profile athletes accused of using performance enhancing drugs to excel in their respective sport, but what makes this case different? The difference in this case is the manner in which Lance Armstrong went after his detractors. Armstrong and his team of lawyers destroyed anyone who dared to question his integrity. After all, Armstrong created the Livestrong Cancer Foundation in which he made sure the two could not be separated. Many have since stated that Armstrong used Livestrong as a shield because no one wanted to undermine the great work of the foundation. Is classic narcissist or psychopath a fair analysis of his past behavior and lack of remorse as described by many after watching the interview?

“He will give the impression that he is highly accomplished at anything and everything he does. He will always be right no matter what. Even if he is wrong, he will twist the truth so that he can assign blame to anyone or anything other than himself.” Lifescript. com How to Deal with Narcissistic Behavior

“Imagine – if you can – not having a conscience, none at all, no feelings of guilt or remorse no matter what you do, no limiting sense of concern for the well-being of strangers, friends, or even family members. Imagine no struggles with shame, not a single one in your whole life, no matter what kind of selfish, lazy, harmful, or immoral action you had taken.” The Mask of Sanity

View the video clips of Armstrong’s interview with Oprah, and you decide.

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