Mind Over Sports

There are a number of reasons why the Pittsburgh Pirates will be in (and should win) the World Series. First and foremost they have some of the best players in major league baseball, including Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Josh Harrison, Pedro Alverez, Gregory Polanco and one of baseball’s top closers in Mark Melancon. But they also have the best manager in major league baseball: Clint Hurdle. Those managers who have had adversity in their lives, as Hurdle has, have the greatest empathy for their players. Hurdle genuinely cares about his players as human beings first and then as athletic performers. And his players know it. It’s something you can’t fake. And if you combine that with his vast knowledge of baseball, plus the talented ballplayers he has on his team…you have a winning combination.

If you’re an athlete and happen to get into a tiff with your girlfriend or boyfriend or your significant other the night before you’re going to compete in your sport, here’s a tip from the late Charlton Heston, guaranteed to resolve the situation in an instant.

A few months before he passed, I happened to catch an interview with him on national television. The interviewer asked him: “Mr. Heston, you and your wife, Lydia, live in Beverly Hills, California, where the divorce rate is almost 80% and yet you and she have been married for 65 years. What is your secret?”

Mr. Heston thought for a moment then replied, holding up five fingers on one of his hands: “Five little words.”
The interviewer was astonished and said: “Five little words? Can you tell us the words?”
To which Mr. Heston replied: “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”

Next time you have a tiff with your girlfriend, boyfriend or significant other the night before you’re going to compete in your sport, try using these five little words. They will diffuse the situation and will enhance your performance the following day. Guaranteed.

Johnny Manziel, former Heisman Trophy Winner who is now competing for the quarterback job with the Cleveland Browns, should have a great season! Anytime an NFL player receives counseling regarding issues they may be harboring, their game almost automatically improves. In Johnny’s case, he spent more than 10 weeks this year in an alcohol treatment center and if that center is anything like AA, he should show remarkable improvement in his game. For starters, when an athlete goes through that type of therapy it improves his ability to focus. It also enhances his feelings of self-worth. So if Johnny stays committed to staying away from booze, watch for the Browns to make it into the playoffs.

Those of you who read my column know the value I place on transforming sports teams into support groups, allowing team members to share their problem and issues with each other. And when this process take place, participants experience an enhanced feeling of self-worth (self-esteem) and begin to perform close to their skill levels on a consistent basis.

But I also advocate support groups for our school systems across the country, where children who show definite signs of being disturbed due to a dysfunctional home life are allowed to talk about their issues with their peers, diffusing any volatile behavior they may be bottling up inside themselves.

When Richard Matt and David Sweat were young, both emerged from splintered families and painful childhoods. David Sweat spent time in a foster home and was considered “a disturbed child.” Richard Matt would terrorize kids on the school bus. Even in elementary and junior high he had issues.

Why didn’t their teachers intervene in their lives and provide a school-based support group to help them. The answer? Our school systems believe personal problems and issues should be dealt with at home, not at school, even though there’s no one at home to help these disturbed children.

It’s time our school systems changed and begin conducting on-site support groups for children who appear in their classes, obviously disturbed, instead of waiting for them to explode upon our society later in life, as killers.

My name is Lieutenant Columbo of the LAPD Homicide Department and I’ve been assigned the Tiger Woods case. It’s pretty obvious somebody murdered his golf game and my job is to find out who.

One of the first things I noticed (I’m always noticing things) was when Tiger and his Swedish ex-wife, Elin Nordegren were divorced, I couldn’t find anything negative that was said about her in the media. And by the way, another thing I’ve noticed is that Tiger has a history of dating tall beautiful statuesque blonds who are highly intelligent, like Elin, and when he does he starts winning tournaments.

But getting back to the case. I talked Tiger’s divorce over with my wife (she’s very smart about things like this) and she said whenever there’s a divorce it’s never just one of the partner’s fault. It’s always both partners who contribute to the divorce, and yet, like I said, I couldn’t find anything negative about her, even in old newspaper clippings. Now, to my wife (and to me, too) that is very strange. It sounds like a “cover-up” so I had to ask myself, why in the world would anyone want to cover-up her contribution to the split-up?

Then, I dug a little deeper and came up with a very interesting statistic. I googled “The Sexual Behavior of Swedish Women” and you’ll never believe what I came up with. Listen to this: Did you know that 39% of all Swedish women have sexual fantasies of having sex with another woman. That’s right. Thirty-Nine percent. So I had to ask myself, is it possible that Tiger’s ex-wife falls into this category? Or that she’s had sex with other women? That would certainly account for Tiger’s promiscuity. Who knows?…maybe he came home one day and found her in bed with another woman? When you’re investigating a murder anything is possible.

So here’s what I think may have happened. When Tiger and his ex got a divorce, Tiger did everything humanly possible to keep his ex-wife’s sexual practices out of the media. Why? Because he was worried about the effect it could have on his children. And, in my opinion, it’s been like a dark cloud over his head, just like that Joe Btfsplk guy in those Lil’ Abner cartoons. And it’s this very cover-up that could be affecting his game because he is “withholding.”

I checked with a sport psychology consultant who happens to be a friend of mine and he said that when an athlete withholds it’s a form of lying that demeans him (in this case, Tiger) and not only lowers his self-esteem but also creates psychological baggage that affect his ability to focus and process information. My friend also told me it could be a source for “misdirected anger.” He said that when and if I’m able to find the murderer he predicts we will see an entirely new Tiger because a big load will have been lifted from his shoulders. And that dark cloud will disappear.

There’s one other thing my friend told me. He said that he believes Tiger is over-estimating the effect it will have on his children since most children are highly resilient and are capable of adapting to adversity in their lives. Especially if they have been loved unconditionally as he was sure Tiger’s children have been.

Now, here’s my problem. I can’t just arrest Tiger’s ex for having murdered his game, unless, some national sports writer gets wind of this and after finding out it’s true writes a column about it. And if that happens, my friend says he believes you will see an entirely different Tiger Woods on the golf course, providing, of course, he’s found another tall, beautiful statuesque blond who is highly intelligent.

Most followers of professional golf are aware that Jordan Spieth is the youngest U.S. Open Champion since Bobby Jones in 1923. What they don’t realize is the powerful positive effect his sister has had on his game. Ellie is his special needs sister.  He is not only close to her but when growing up he often volunteered his time at her school. It’s this relationship that has fueled his feelings of self-worth and made it possible for him to become the golfer he has become. I call this “Excelling For A Higher Order.” For athletes like Jordan, when you’re happy and your life is in harmony you create positive events in your life, on and off the field of competition.

We’re all familiar with how athletes are able to enhance their performance by visualizing themselves being successful, but the visualization process can also be used in a negative way by kooks in our society who are angry and feel they are victims of society. They are often walking time bombs who have come from dysfunctional families and have a low sense of self-worth because they received very little, if any, love and nurturing in their lives. I believe such was the case in Charleston, S.C. when a white gunman walked into a church and murdered nine innocent people. One has to wonder if he had watched violence on television which then became the trigger for his actions. It may not be so for psychologically healthy people, but for that small segment of our society who carry around with them massive amounts of anger, it could very well be the source. These people subconsciously visualize the violence they see on national television and then go out and reproduce a violent scenario in real life with real people. The only way to avoid this is to intervene in their lives at a very early age when they are children by creating support groups in our public school systems that will allow them to talk about what is happening in their homes that no one knows about and which they are keeping bottled up inside themselves. Once a program like this is set up in our school systems across the country, you will see fewer and fewer Charleston S.C. scenarios.

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Mind Over Sports
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