Try for a moment to get yourself situated inside the mind of a person whose self-respect has started to fall. Have you ever been there? Can you identify with how this person starts to think? What habits they will enter into? What becomes appealing? What is appalling? The price for their integrity will drop, yes?
It’s been said that every person has their price. Is this still true for athletes participating in sports and recreation? Even on the professional level? I suspect that the truth of this is self-evident, especially if a person will spend 10 minutes of their day watching or listening to a sports news show. The stakes might be fairly high in sports, particularly at the professional level, but our human tendencies remain the same – on all levels, and across multiple dimensions.
Take, for example, our willingness to be judgmental. Outside of sports, we might try to resist being judgmental – but in sports – fahhhh-gid-abou-dih – we are compelled to be judgmental. And when it comes to sports, it’s just so hard to resist weighing in on someone else’s actions – why? Perhaps because sports and recreation seem benign? And, right now – as a culture – we are fascinated by sports. Knowledge of sports has become a currency all its own, and the need to be able to speak with some knowledge of sports now seeps into our social skill set as a clear asset.
But wait – athletes have feelings too, yes? They are subject to the same trials and temptations as any other human. But they’re in the spotlight, thus relatively unprotected. So, who can resist taking a shot at the unprotected? Should sports fans be expected to resist delivering such blows? We’re quick to blast the whistle on athletes who take shots at the unprotected. And they get fined for such behavior, and/or they face public scorn. So, what? Should fans be expected to rein in their “judgmental-ness?” Hmmm?
Let’s go back to that first set of questions – behind them is some idea about what drives a person who may feel compromised. So what is it? What does that? Perhaps feeling like you’re being used up, or even just – used? Perhaps not getting respect from others? Perhaps being frustrated, and taking out that frustration on someone you love – because – it’s safe? Wow! Wait! That means…a person whose self-respect has started to fall can be – dangerous?
Well then it’s a good thing we have leisure, sports, and recreation, eh? Wait – huh? Why, yes! Think about it! There are so many compelling, precious, and magnificent stories about how sports can facilitate, and in some instances even cause great things to happen, especially in the face of adversity! Absolutely – sure thing! In all sorts of sports and recreation, from team sports, to individual recreational efforts – the story of the power of sports and recreation just beats on, and on, and on… So – here are links to just a few, to pique your interest…
By Dr. Rodney J. Blackman
Dr. Blackman is the Chair of Recreation Management at the United States Sports Academy, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.