doing his job?
Edwards says Knight "justifies what he does with players -- that it's all for the sake of winning games. Anybody in the workplace could say they have this volatile, mean-spirited approach to work because they are paid to do a job, and that's what it takes to do the job well. That's a rationalization."
Knight's anger, he says, "probably comes from something more deep seated than anything we know... He clearly is an individual who has anger management problems."
While the root of Knight's anger presumably predates his involvement in sports, sports may play a role, says Edwards. A connection between sports and his behavior "may come from the more general phenomenon we see among athletes, especially elite athletes, when you start very young and you're taught to use aggression and anger to be successful in sport. Occasionally people use that same strategy in other aspects of their lives."
to push and shove
Edwards is in the process of researching the possible connection between long-term participation in what he calls the "very aggressive sports" of hockey and football, and the use of aggression and intimidation in daily life.
Even though athletes can act aggressively without feeling anger, aggression is so critical to football and hockey that some coaches fear that reducing anger will reduce aggression. "There's a notion among some coaches that aggression is a fundamental part of an athlete's personality and ability," says Edwards, "and that we have to be careful what we do with them. Some coaches feel if there's an anger problem, it may be better to ignore it."
The fact that parents take games so seriously leads to a second problem, Still says. "When players aren't performing to their ability, it frustrates us as fans because we are those players in those uniform, we get the feeling this is my team, so when things go wrong it's easy to point a finger at officials."
As Still points out, the very word "fan" probably is short for "fanatic." -- a fact that is obvious to anyone who's watched the mayhem at soccer games in Europe or Latin America. Getting back on track, the parental message -- that losses reflect referee bungling -- allows kids and parents alike to escape responsibility for their actions, Still argues. "When I played Little League, I could not hit a curve ball, so my dad took me to the batting cage and taught me. Today parents don't seem to want to take that time with their children, it's easier to say the ump sucks."
Alcohol use, however, did not vary between athletes and non-athletes.
The study found these positive correlations, Pate says (see "Study Links... " in the bibliography).
The study shows a correlation, not a cause-and-effect relationship. Why might athletics be so helpful? Perhaps coaches or parents stress healthy behavior. Perhaps practices and games soak up free time that could be spent on illicit or unhealthy behavior. Perhaps basically healthy kids tend to take up sports to begin with.
I bet it's healthy to vent a little spleen now and then...
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