Sports Psychology and Clinical Psychology News for 06-05-2019

How to improve your soccer performance | 3-step guide | Sports psychology

Dartmouth and Princeton students saw a game. Hasdorf, Cantril

Hastorf and Cantril – in a paper called They Saw a Game: A Case Study – analyzed what proved to be selective perception of a college football game contested between Dartmouth Indians and Princeton Tigers. The football game the students saw had actually been played in 1951 – Princeton won. It was a rough game, with many penalties, and it had aroused a furore of editorials in the campus newspapers and elsewhere. The Princeton quarterback, an All-American, in this, his last game for his college, had had to leave the game in the second quarter with a broken nose and a mild concussion. In the third quarter the Dartmouth quarterback’s leg was broken when he was tackled in the backfield.

One week after the game, Hastorf and Cantril had Dartmouth and Princeton psychology students fill out a questionnaire, and the authors analyzed the answers of those who had seen either the game or a movie of the game. Almost no one said that Princeton started the rough play; thirty-six per cent of the Dartmouth students and eighty-six per cent of the Princeton students said that Dartmouth started it; and fifty-three per cent of the Dartmouth students and eleven per cent of the Princeton students said that both started it. Hastorf and Cantril interpreted these results overall as indicating that, when encountering a mix of occurrences as complex as a football game, we experience primarily those events that fulfill a familiar pattern and have personal significance. Our membership of any group often provides a frame and a filter through which we view social events. This Dartmouth v Princeton game had a particular meaning for students from each school, and a quite different meaning to people who felt no allegiance to either team.

Even among those on the same side, the game meant different things to the team members and their fans. The impetus we need to become aware of the impact of such social influence may perhaps be held to take the form of a shift in perspective.

The Psychology Of Violence In Sports

Many years later, as a psychoanalyst and sports fan, I continue to wonder about this dichotomy among fans: we view our team’s athletic rivals as the enemy, but they are also us. Consider our reaction to the friendly chat between the first baseman and the new base runner whose single just knocked in a crucial run; the hug between two spent heavyweights who’ve been pounding one another for 15 rounds; the lingering chat at midfield between two opposing football players after the last play. After every game the teams would line up to shake hands. Depending on the players’ age and maturity, this gesture was empty at worst and enforced proto-sportsmanship at best. The handshakes are a ritual acknowledgement that, fundamentally, opponents are necessary for the game to take place and to make the play transcendent.

We see our linebacker as a hard player; but last year, when he played for our rival, he was a thug. Studies have shown that violence in the game, particularly if perceived as unfair, increases the likelihood of violent acts by spectators. Fan violence is further magnified by strong identification with the team, underlying racial and ethnic tensions, social alienation, alcohol consumption, and predominance of young men in the crowd. Jennings Bryant concludes that the fans’ moral judgment of the lawfulness of their team’s violent actions mitigates the satisfaction felt even at the defeat of a hated rival team. When players genuinely recognize and acknowledge one another, it marks the game for us as a humane competition.

Since we seek organized displays of aggression, we cannot deny our complicity when players are routinely hurt in the service of our entertainment. We need to balance our appetite to watch aggressive sports action with the other side of our natures, the part that wants to affirm our identification with the humanity and vulnerability of the players on both sides.

Special Super Bowl Post: The Marvels of Football Psychology

The team has never before been to the Super Bowl – indeed, half of the teams’ total franchise playoff victories of four have occurred this year. The Colts had football’s worst running game, and quarterback Peyton Manning has had to throw to new, inexperienced receivers. Manning gained 4,500 yards passing, nearly his all-time best in a great career. Manning is considered by many the hardest working man in football, showing up before the greenest rookies to work out himself and with his receivers. The Colts rely largely on a no-huddle offense, so that Manning watches opposing players substitute in and out of the game across the scrimmage line.

Manning has to know where receivers are headed and in which direction they will break. So Manning must both assume that receivers are running particular patterns, and remain alert to improvisation on the receivers’ parts – sometimes while he is running around in the backfield himself. Manning is in the unusual situation of having had a professional quarterback as a father and a younger brother who quarterbacks a professional football team and who has himself won a Super Bowl. With one year off, either Manning could be winner in three out of the last four Super Bowls. Considering the difficulties many athletes have managing their own lives off of the football field, his sons may make Archie Manning football’s father of the decade – no, make that father of the decade with all comers included.

One last irony – Archie, who came from a dirt town in Mississippi that he likens to Mayberry – is probably the most popular player in New Orleans Saints history – even though he never came close to playing in a Super Bowl himself with the team. Picture: Peyton Manning pointing – at either a defensive player who needs to be picked up, a receiver on his own team he wants to change his pattern, or a photographer not getting his best angle – NOT!