Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Basketball

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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