Violent sports and dating abuse documented among college athletes and the this study sought out to see if there was the same correlation with high school athletes and the results were very interesting.  The study looked at 16 California High Schools and surveyed 1,648 male students.

The study found “hyper masculine” students seem to be drawn to more aggressive sports.  The study found that students are 2x more likely to abuse their girlfriend sexually, physically and/or psychologically, if they play both football and basketball.  The students that only played football were 50% more likely to abuse their girlfriends.  What was interesting was that students who played football or basketball were more likely to abuse their partners than those who did not play sports or those who were involved in wrestling, swimming, or tennis.  High School and College wrestling does not have the cheerleaders nor the large crowds that would typically feed into hyper masculine behaviors.  Hyper masculine athletes may be drawn to basketball and football as these sports seem to get the largest group of spectators, cheerleaders, and lots of attention from students, girls and scouts.  They often are popular and may have a sense of entitlement.

Article Author News Interview on Teen Athlete and Partner Abuse

The Superbowl is a great display of huge athletes pummeling each other, while the crowd is cheering, sons and daughters watching, cheerleaders cheering and players are rewarding their teammates for the awesome aggressive violent play that landed the opposing player on a stretcher.

Spillover Theory | Some coaches think there is a spillover theory where all the drive to dominate the other team, and win the game is spilling over into real life.  “Knock’em on their butt,” “be the best” or “win at all costs” may not always be the best message either and how do we turn off this aggression off the field.

A Different Approach | One of the greatest coaches of all time was UCLA’s basketball coach Coach John Wooden had 10 NCAA championships in 12 years, and 7 NCAA championships in a row.  His team won 88 straight games and had four 30-0 seasons.  He did all of this without talking about winning, win at all costs, be the best, etc.  He told his players about integrity, respect, honor, faith, and his 15 step pyramid of success is in locker rooms and corporate board rooms across the country.  John Wooden told his athletes to “Be their personal best” because if you try to be the best then you have to knock someone down.  He talk about the path of victory instead of “win at all cost.”

Performance Anxiety | While coaching athletes with high performance anxiety over the years there has been so much pressure on them from their parents or coaches to win.  Sharing John Wooden’s Pyramid of success and his principles about being your “personal best” helped many athletes relax.  They go into a game saying “I will give it my personal best and if we win or lose, at least I gave it my best.”  These athletes performed better because they were less stressed and could only control their performance and did not have the pressure of the performance of all the other players on the team.  At the end of the game they were able to tell themselves “I gave it my best and thats all I can do and let the cards fall as they may.

Coaching Boys into Men Another study researched a program where boys completed one year a program called Coaching Boys into Men created by the organization Futures Without Violence that there was a reduction in aggression toward dating partners.  The program discusses healthy masculinity, and ways to step in when someone is treating their dating partner inappropriately.

Spillover Theory: Some coaches think there is a spillover theory where all the drive to win in the game is spills over into real life.  “Knock’em on their butt,” “be the best” or “win at all costs” may not always be the best message either.  One of the greatest coaches of all time was UCLA’s basketball coach Coach John Wooden had 10 NCAA championships in 12 years, and 7 NCAA championships in a row.  His team won 88 straight games and had four 30-0 seasons.  He did all of this without talking about winning, win at all costs, be the best, etc.  He told his players about integrity, respect, honor, faith, and his 15 step pyramid of success is in locker rooms and corporate board rooms across the country.  John Wooden told his athletes to “Be their personal best” because if you try to be the best then you have to knock someone down.  He talk about the path of victory instead of “win at all cost.”

Performance Anxiety While coaching athletes with high performance anxiety over the years there has been so much pressure on them from their parents or coaches to win.  Sharing John Wooden’s Pyramid of success and his principles about being your “personal best” helped many athletes relax.  They go into a game saying “I will give it my personal best and if we win or lose, at least I gave it my best.”  These athletes performed better because they were less stressed and could only control their performance and did not have the pressure of the performance of all the other players on the team.  At the end of the game they were able to tell themselves “I gave it my best and thats all I can do and let the cards fall as they may.

Parents and Coaches are responsible about helping students focus on the path to victory in the game, and how to be socially responsible off the field.  Use the Wooden’s Pyramid of Success and teach healthy masculinity using programs like coaching boys into men.

For Sports Psychological Coaching for students or professional athletes contact a certified Sports Counselor.

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Author Jim West, LMHC, NCC is a National Certified Counselor and professional athletes have brought their children and teens to him over the past 15 years to help with various issues.  Additionally, he is the president of Total Life Counseling Center and employs excellent sports counselors like Anthony Gutierrez, LMHC and Julie Russell, PLMHC, NCC

Julie Russell, MS, PLMHC, NCC is a National Certified Counselor specializing in Sports Counseling, Marriage, Parent, Adolescent, and Child Therapy at Total Life Counseling. Clients young and old, male and female, often seek sports counseling with Julie to nurture the same life skills to cultivate appropriate sport involvement. Julie uses the four factors in this article to naturally encourage a child, teen or adult athlete to be a positive team player, while growing as an individual. Growth is a fundamental asset of successful athletes. By making these broader outcomes toward overall empowerment the goal, you can nurture skills through athletics that will last a lifetime.