Posted May 18, 2013on:
There are many team owners and coaches who believe that creating support groups within their team structure to help athletes with personal problems and issues is “sissy stuff” and of little or no value. And yet, all one has to do is look at the trouble that many young players are getting into during their careers and after retirement. Two examples are Rolando McClain and Chad Johnson.
According to a report in USA TODAY: “A day after he retired from the Baltimore Ravens following his third arrest in 16 months, linebacker Rolando McClain, 23, said his priority was cleaning up his off-field situation. ‘I have decided at this time,’ he said, ‘it is in my best interest to focus on getting my personal life together.’”
In the case of Chad Johnson, USA TODAY reported: “A warrant has been issued for the arrest of former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson in South Florida…for failing to report to his probation officer. Johnson received a year of probation in September after pleading no contest to a domestic violence charge involving his former wife, reality TV star Evelyn Lozada.”
It’s too bad these young men didn’t receive help while employed by their respective teams. Had they broken a leg there’s no doubt a physician would have been called in and x-rays taken. But no help is offered for an issue that may be entirely mental – such as misdirected anger – until the anger surfaces in a domestic quarrel.
I’m not so sure. In the past, I’ve written about athletes who had been diagnosed with cancer but because Angelina Jolie is such a high profile person, I thought I would write something about her decision.
I’ve worked with cancer patients in the past when I lived in Kansas City, Missouri. As a volunteer, I conducted self-esteem building workshops at a local Cancer Support Center. Many of the participants were women who had been newly diagnosed with breast cancer. At the outset I would explain to them that even though they had been diagnosed with cancer, from my perspective, I didn’t think that was their primary problem. Their primary problem was that each had a suppressed (or impaired) immune system. I would then explain to them that research has shown that the most conspicuous characteristic of cancer patients is bottled up emotions, and we would then have each person in the group stand and tell his or her own story about stress in their lives. Each would interact with others in the room and, at the same time, bring their emotions to the surface. After talking about their issues (many for the first time) their repressed feelings began to disappear and they immediately felt better about themselves. Once they began talking about their issues, they experienced an increase in self-esteem resulting in an enhanced immune system.
Research has shown that many individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer are repressing their feelings, which negatively affects their self-esteem. Here’s how it works: When you withhold (repress) your feelings and emotions it’s a form of lying that demeans you and lowers your self-esteem. As your self-esteem is lowered you begin to see your world around you from a negative perspective (“we see things as we are”) and create stress for yourself. As a result of the stress, your body gives off hormones that impair your immune system. According to the “Surveillance Mechanism Theory,” we all have cancer cells in our bodies that are constantly being devoured by our immune system Pac-Man style. But when we encounter stress, our immune system becomes impaired and the cancer cells begin to multiply at a rate faster than they can be devoured. The result is: we are soon diagnosed as having cancer.
Many physicians will agree that a relationship exists between high self-esteem and wellness, and low self-esteem and illness. I’ve found that when cancer patients enhance their own feelings of self-worth, they automatically enhance the potency of their immune systems.
After going around the room, providing everyone with an opportunity to talk openly about issues in their lives that were causing them stress, we were then ready to use a “guided imagery” visualization technique where they would “see” their own healthy t-cells attacking their cancer cells. This exercise was accompanied by Patti LaBelle’s recording of “New Attitude.” At the time I had a story-board that I used in those sessions showing the t-cells coming together, mobilizing, and forming an arrow. The arrow would zoom toward a large glob that represented a cancer cell and the arrow would attack the glob, which would then deflate and dissipate.
Unfortunately, after moving to a new city, I was never able to locate the storyboard. But I believe cancer patients reading this can create their own visual image of t-cells attacking cancer cells and use Patti LaBelle’s recording to accompany it. I’m sure Patti would not mind since she herself is a cancer survivor. Later, patients would listen to only the music track and the images that were embedded in their minds would recreate themselves, automatically. This part of the program can be compared to the “placebo effect” as it applies to health and is currently being tested by Ted Kaptchuk at Harvard Medical School.
So my question is: Even though Angelina Jolie may have been genetically pre-disposed toward having cancer, I’m not sure it would have happened unless she had some type of stressful situation in her life. But on the other hand, if she believes that having a double mastectomy will keep her from being diagnosed with cancer at a later date, then there’s a good chance it will. When it comes to matters of health, beliefs can be powerful.
There’s been quite a bit in the press lately about the law suit filed by a group of five American Indians to force Daniel Snyder, owner of the NFL Washington Redskins to change the team’s name because it’s a slur toward American Indians. If Amanda Blackhorse and her group win their case, they would essentially strip the federal trademark rights from the team so that anyone anywhere in the world could produce a product and put the Washington Redskins name on it and market it without having to share any portion of the profit with Snyder or his team. Which could become a considerable loss of revenue for Snyder. From my perspective, I believe if the name “Redskins” is an affront to American Indians it should be changed. After all, what’s wrong with “Washington Warriors?” Or “Washington Skins?”
DID KENTUCKY DERBY WINNER ORB SENSE THAT HIS JOCKEY, JOEL ROSARIO, WAS HAPPY AND HIS LIFE WAS IN HARMONY?
Posted May 7, 2013on:
I have a couple of friends who used to own a race horse and they once told me that based on their years of experience, that a race horse can sense how its jockey feels. Is he (or she) happy? Nervous? Stressed out? And the horse then responds based on what it senses from the jockey. When the jockey is happy and his (or her) life is in harmony the horse runs better. When the jockey is unhappy and his (or her) life is in disharmony) the horse doesn’t run as well. Could it be that jockey Joel Rosario’s life was in harmony when he climbed aboard Org for the Kentucky Derby? I tried to find out if Rosario had a new girlfriend or was happily married (and perhaps just had a new baby) but there doesn’t seem to be any information about his personal life on the Internet.
The following is from a New York Times story, dated May 5, 2013: “In the second round on April 12, Woods’s third shot on No. 15 hit the flag and rolled off the green and into the water. Woods took a one-stroke penalty and dropped the ball in the fairway, a few feet from his original divot, and played his fifth shot.
“Woods unwittingly called his drop into question when he said in an ESPN interview that he took it two yards from the original spot, which was not ‘as nearly as possible’ to the spot from which he first hit, as the rules require. The next day, the Masters rules committee assessed Woods a two-stroke penalty and allowed him to play on, invoking Rule 33-7, which allows the penalty of disqualification for signing an incorrect scorecard to be waived in exceptional individual cases. Woods finished tied for fourth.
“The United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient released a statement Wednesday, saying that Woods did violate the rules by playing his ball from the wrong place and that the ruling to allow him to remain in the tournament was correct. The application of Rule 33-7 was reasonable because the Masters rules committee failed to meet with Woods before he signed his scorecard.”
What caused Woods’ mental error on Saturday, the third day of the tournament? It’s important to remember that what takes place away from the golf course affects what takes place on the golf course. No one knows for sure but from my perspective Tiger could have had a little Friday evening spat with his new significant other, Olympic Skier Lindsey Vonn, that affected his focus the following day. Or he might have gotten into a frustrating argument on his cell phone with his ex-wife Friday evening regarding a particular family issue involving their children, which often happens to men who have gone through divorce. When there are children from a former marriage, a divorce doesn’t end a relationship with an ex, but merely transforms it.
Posted May 2, 2013on:
When athletes withhold, that is, keep their feelings and issues bottled up inside themselves, it’s a form of lying that demeans them and creates baggage that affects their ability to focus. But when they are honest and go public, they’ll be much happier and more focused resulting in an increase in their performance level. A good example was reported in a past issue of USA Today:
“It’s telling that the day before the U.S. women’s soccer team played Japan in the gold medal game, Megan Rapinoe’s sexual orientation was no big deal. In the most recent issue of Out, Rapinoe announced publicly that she is gay, becoming the first prominent American soccer player to come out in the media.
‘I lived my life pretty open before that, but it was just nice to be out there and be proud about it,’ Rapinoe said. Perhaps being open about her sexuality has helped her game, she says. ‘I guess it seems like a weight off my shoulders: I’m playing a lot better than I’ve ever played before. But I think I’m just enjoying myself and I’m happy,’ she said.
“Rapinoe has been a difference-maker for the USA throughout the Games. In the team’s dramatic 4-3 semifinal victory against Canada in overtime, the midfielder scored the team’s first two goals.”
Based on the above, I predict that whatever NBA team Jason Collins’ plays for next season, they will be getting a new, improved version of him.
There have been many professional athletes who were idolized by their fans for their achievements, but in many cases, those athletes, as successful as they were in their sport, did not perform anywhere near their ability. Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams were two examples.
Because Mantle’s family had a history of the men dying at an early age, he did not believe he was going to live a long life and therefore did not take care of himself, physically or emotionally. In fact, just before he died, he stated that he felt he had never reached his potential and that if he knew he was going to live as long as he did, he would have taken better care of himself. If he had trained as hard as some of today’s professional athletes train he would probably own almost every record in baseball.
Another example was the great Ted Williams, one of major league baseball’s all-time premier hitters and the last player to bat over .400. But Ted Williams had a secret weapon, so to speak, that few knew about. Her name was Lou Kaufman, who David Halberstam wrote about in his book “The Teammates.” After Ted’s three marriages were over, Halberstam wrote: “He was with a wonderful lady named Lou Kaufman, a kind and forgiving person who had moved in and out of his life over the years. She was much admired by most of Ted’s old friends and was, by consensus among them, the woman in Ted’s life who seemed to understand him best and who could calm him down most readily when one of those instant moments of pure anger had been triggered. She was kind and thoughtful and truly loving – and she seemed, I once thought, when we were all three together for a day back in 1988, as much parent to him as lady-friend.” If he had not had Lou Kaufman in his life, I doubt he would have been as successful as he was in hi baseball career.
I once had a personal experience with Williams that demonstrated, very clearly, that he did not possess a great deal of self-esteem. In 1969 and 1970 I was associated with a Kansas City marketing and advertising agency and one of the company’s clients was Sears. In those days, Sears operated a store on the Country Club Plaza and one of the brand names they carried was Ted Williams’ Fishing Equipment. Because of this relationship, when he wrote a book about himself, My Turn At Bat: The Story of my Life, which was published in 1969, he arranged to visit Sears stores across the country to promote his book and help sales by personally autographing copies.
When Sears scheduled Ted’s appearance at the Plaza Store it turned out to be on a Saturday morning. Sears had requested that someone from our agency be present to help coordinate the event. Being an avid sports fan, I volunteered my services. On the Saturday morning of his appearance I arrived at the store around 8:30am since it was scheduled to open at 9am. The front of the store was all glass and featured large glass doors clearly visible from the table we had set up with books for Ted’s signing.
At about 8:40am, one of baseball’s most famous super heroes arrived. I introduced myself, we shook hands, and I explained why I was there. He nodded appreciatively and asked in a soft voice: “Do you think anyone will come?” I assured him they would even though he had been retired for a number of years. A few moments later, he approached me again, asking softly: “Uh, do you think anyone will show up?” I again assured him they would and that he shouldn’t concern himself. Between 8:40am and the time the store opened he must have asked me five times whether or not I thought people would show up for the signing. Each time, I assured him they would. He appeared sad and thought perhaps his fame had faded. He appeared to me to be like a small puppy dog with its tail between its legs, sadly anticipating the worst. He clearly demonstrated that he did not possess a great deal of self-esteem; otherwise, whether or not anyone would show up for the signing would not have been an issue for him. But at approximately 8:58am, two minutes before the store was scheduled to open, a gentleman with a young boy in his arms appeared at the door. Then behind him another lined up holding the hand of a youngster wearing a baseball cap. Then another. And another. All either holding the hand of a small child or carrying a child in their arms. It was obvious they were there to meet the great Ted Williams. By 9am there was a line of fans outside the store that stretched for two city blocks. When Ted saw them he walked over to the table, took his seat and awaited the crowd. When the doors opened, the throng made its way to the table. Suddenly, his mood changed. He became overtly more confident. Appearing more self-assured. And as the fathers and their children passed by the table to purchase their autographed books, Ted Williams would say in a loud, boisterous voice: “C’mon! C’mon! Let’s keep this line moving! I don’t have all day!!!”