Mind Over Sports

Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Much has been written in the media about how America’s women have been sexually abused by their bosses and supervisors and until now, have been reluctant to speak up because they feared the consequences of their honesty.

But something very similar is happening in the field of sports (and has been happening for a long time) based on the way some white coaches treat their black athletes behind closed doors. If a white coach treats an African-American athlete badly and the athlete speaks up, more than likely he will not only be kicked off the team but other teams will be reluctant to have him join them because he is immediately identified as a trouble-maker. The ramifications of this are enormous, especially since the athlete will be deprived of the opportunity to obtain a college degree. Rather than fight their coach and the front office (who is aware of their coach’s behavior but still support him) they clam up, saying nothing, especially to the media. Here’s an example:

A number of years ago, half-way through the season, I was called upon to help an NCAA Missouri Basketball team who, up to that time, was 3-15. My job as a sport psychology consultant was to help build team chemistry and help the players improve their performance. This involved each player standing and sharing with his teammates what was on his mind, with no coach present. There were twelve players on the team, ten of whom were African-American. At our first session, which was much like a support group meeting with all comments made to be kept in complete confidence within that room. What I heard from players was startling and amazing.
Since the players wouldn’t speak up about how their coach was treating them, I took it upon myself to approach a friend who was on the board of the university. He took immediate action and two weeks later that coach was fired. Unfortunately, word leaked out that it was I who approached the university and from that day on, no one at the university would hire me.

Any athletic director reading this should be required to receive comments in writing from all their athletes anonymously so they can obtain a true reading of what is going on behind those closed doors.

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I watched the Frisco Bowl last night and saw the Louisana Tech football team blow out Southern Methodist University 51-10. The SMU Mustangs fumbled on the first play of the game and then things got worse. SMU had six turnovers and was behind at the half 42-10. But what caused SMU to have such a poor game? In my opinion, it was the fact that their head coach, Chad Morris, decided to leave the team and accept a higher paying job with the Arkansas Razorbacks in Fayetteville, Arkansas BEFORE the Frisco Bowl even began.

Morris took quite a few of his staff with him, creating a confused and discombobulated situation among SMU team members who were stunned by his decision to leave before their bowl game with LA Tech.

So much for an NCAA football coach telling his team all season long how much he loved them and would be there for them, until, that is, another team offered him more than three million dollars a year as head coach. In my opinion, this showed a huge lack of character on Coach Morris’ part. He should have accepted the job but only on the condition that he be allowed to finish off the season with his SMU team.

Cheer as you may for your favorite NCAA Division I team but the fact of the matter is that NCAA Division I is a business. Talk about a team distraction…Louisiana Tech didn’t win the game, SMU lost it. Thanks to Coach Morris’ early exit. I’m looking forward to the day when SMU plays Arkansas while Morris is still head coach and gets his you-know-what whipped.

Last night I watched the SMU mustangs win their football game over Tulsa, 38-34. According to an internet report: “A big turning point for the SMU defense came on Tulsa’s first drive of the second half. A long touchdown rush for the Golden Hurricane was negated for taunting before the runner reached the end zone. It wiped the touchdown off the board, and the Mustangs held the Golden Hurricane to just three points.” I watched that play and couldn’t believe it was not allowed because of taunting, and if you watched the play you would see the receiver, when he knew he was end-zone bound and no one was around him, performed a single high stepping strut which the referees ruled consisted of taunting. The announcers believed the NCAA rule was ridiculous, as do I, and should be modified. The NCAA should realize that football is a game and if they insist on taking the fun out of it, over a period of time, fans will lose interest.

I’ve often said that what you believe to be true is true for you, no matter how it plays out in the real world. A good example is Kansas City Chiefs’ running back Kareem Hunt, who has this belief that he gets stronger during the second half of games. In an interview Hunt said he’s always been someone who gets stronger as games wear on. This is a powerful belief that has helped to make him the NFL’s rushing leader through the first four weeks of the season. Hunt believes he gets stronger and because of this belief he actually does get stronger.
A number of years ago, Missouri University’s football team was playing Oklahoma University and Oklahoma was a huge favorite since they had an All-American quarterback. With just a few minutes to go in the first half, Oklahoma was winning 21-0. But on the last play of the first half, Oklahoma’s All-American quarterback was injured and had to be carried off the field on a stretcher and was out for the rest of the game. When the second half started, Missouri seemed to have a different mindset. Even though they were still competing against the same Oklahoma defense that held them scoreless in the first half, they were able to score three times in the second half but eventually lost the game by a point, 21-20. What made the difference? Their “belief” they could win once the Oklahoma quarterback was out of the game. And the Oklahoma team more than likely believed that with their quarterback out of the game, they could lose…and they almost did.

How can you tell if players are witholding and may have issues in their personal lives or team-related issues they aren’t addressing? Wide receivers drop passes that hit them in the numbers, or if they catch the pass they fumble the ball when tackled. Quarterbacks throw interceptions and are not able to see receivers who are open. Defensive players are missing tackles and not being aggressive. When a team isn’t motivated, the only way they can become motivated is by sharing their personal problems and issues with others, especially their teammates. If you want to help your team start winning, you might suggest to the team’s head coach, in a very gentle way, that he hire someone to conduct individual private sessions…with the offensive unit, the defensive unit, and special teams. There should be no coaches present. This would provide players with the opportunity to get things off their chest and clear the air, and when that happens they’ll begin to feel better about themselves and will begin performing at a higher level. And the meetings should take place weekly.

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Not at all. People who are angry and are saying the players are being disrespectful know better. But they have negative beliefs about blacks and hispanics and by saying the players are being disrespectful they are merely tapping into their own belief systems. They know the players are only attempting to bring attention to the way in which people of color are being treated in this country in our criminal justice system. That the players are attempting to bring attention to the fact that people of color in this country often live in low sub-standard (and unsafe) housing, that they have a difficult time achieving a college education, that young black and hispanic children are not receiving the pre-school education that white children are receiving putting them at a disadvantage when they enter the public school system, and they are attempting to bring attention to the fact that many young black and hispanic children’s lives are at risk when they live in the inner-city. It’s time our federal government did something about this and allocate a huge budget to fix what needs fixing. And I’m not talking about a hand-out. The people of color I know want to work and earn their own way. Most white politicians serving in Washington over the past fifty years should be ashamed of themselves for not having done more to help America’s black and hispanic communities become more independent and enter the middle class. That’s why the NFL players are taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem.

A few days ago I read in the newspaper the amounts of money the NFL owners contributed to Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign and frankly, it made me ill. It’s a good example of how the NFL corporate entities often look the other way when financially helping someone who could potentially help their franchises. To them, it’s all about the bottom line. NFL owners always maintain they help their players, many of whom are black, but in reality, they go with the flo where their investment will bring them the best return. It isn’t about doing the right thing but rather doing what generates the most profit for them. Just look at how they fought the concussion research findings, which they thought might put them out of business. But the fact is, the only people who can put them out of business are the owners themselves. And they seem to be doing a pretty good job. I don’t think I’ll ever attend or watch an NFL game again.


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