Mind Over Sports


Posted on: June 1, 2013

Former NFL coach Romeo Crennel is, I’m sure, a very nice person and has the best of intentions. But his comments in USA TODAY about the death of Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher and what needs to be done in the future to prevent a similar situation indicates he doesn’t understand the need for psychotherapy in troubled players’ lives. Crennel keeps talking about educating players and the importance of impressing on them to “do the right thing.” But when athletes have emotional problems, you don’t try to educate them, you listen to them and encourage them to talk about their personal issues and feelings. That’s why I’m an advocate of NFL teams creating “support group environments” within each team, allowing players to discuss among themselves any problems they may be having in their personal lives. The more they release their feelings the better they will feel about themselves and the less likely they are to commit domestic violence. One-on-one counseling doesn’t work because there’s a stigma attached to it: Players don’t want to be seen walking into a room with a “schrink” because their teammates will think there’s something psychology wrong with them.  And what compounds this problem even more is that many professional athletes, at a very early age, are taught NOT to talk about their feelings because it isn’t macho.  But once they realize that talking about their issues and problems will enhance their performance, they generally open up and participate in the group discussion.


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