Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘NASCAR

Anyone who follows racing now knows: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. is dating Danica Patrick. Last month, they revealed their relationship, not long after Patrick separated from her husband. More than likely they’ve had a relationship for quite some time which means that up until now she has been living a lie. This is very common among many pro athletes, especially in the NFL and NBA, and I’ve always maintained that any athlete who is having an extra-marital affair (assuming that was the case with Danica) will not perform anywhere near his or her skill level. Keeping a relationship hidden and away from the media can be detrimental to an athlete’s self-esteem and performance. But now that Patrick has left her husband and she and Stenhouse have gone public, their relationship has become a non-issue and we should see both of them winning races during the coming NASCAR season. And if they get married, and have a baby, their ability to win will be even greater. Athletes who are happy and whose lives are in harmony perform at a higher level than those whose lives are in disharmony.  According to an interview in the Boston Globe, Stenhouse said, “Well, we are happy and that is good, right? I feel like what I’ve learned in my career in racing is that any time you are happy off the racetrack, it tends to show up on the racetrack.  That is one good thing that we have going. We are both happy, we are focused on racing and having fun.’’




I’ll be the first to admit I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to NASCAR racing, but I noticed in yesterday’s USA Today that Kurt Busch, during the past season, displayed a number of volatile outbursts, including vulgarity-laced tirades. But this year, he seems to be more relaxed and ready to get back to the task of winning races.
Now, those of you who read my column know that I believe what takes place away from the racetrack affects what takes place on the racetrack. I’m also of the opinion that when there’s out-of-control anger similar to that which Busch displayed last season, it’s often a case of “misdirected” anger. Could it be a coincidence that Busch’s anger last year took place at the same time he was going through a divorce? And now that his divorce is final, he’s more relaxed? I don’t think it’s a coincidence at all. I believe the two are closely related.
The article also happened to mention that since September Busch has been seeing a sport psychologist. It’s fortunate for the sport psychologist that he (or she?) is seeing Busch after his divorce has become final since he (or she) will probably have great success with him. But if Kurt Busch were going through his divorce at the same time he was seeing a sport psychologist, not much would have come from his counseling because sport psychologists are not allowed to help athletes with their personal issues and problems. And if they do, they can lose their licenses since they would be entering the domain of the clinical psychologist which, in the field of psychology, is prohibited.
Today, there are many professional and college-level sports teams who hire sport psychologists not realizing that if their athletes have personal issues and problems, the sport psychologist will be of little value. That’s why I’m an advocate of universities and colleges offering degrees in sport psychology accompanied by a masters degree in counseling. But as far as I know, none are doing it.

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