CRASHING AND BURNING ATHLETES
Until now most of this blog has focused on the productive use of two strong drive forces in the lives of elite athletes: their long-term drive and their game-day arousal. In this section, we will discuss the dangers these two strong motivators can bring, both on and off the playing fields.
Looks at the dreaded phenomenon of how and why athletes choke, and how there may be more pressure on them these days (and there are also more solutions available for them to overcome it). The post also looks at how high arousal can give a performer a distorted view of the action. In post 15, arousal turns ugly with cases of angry athletes losing control during competition, from boxer Mike Tyson to baseballer Robbie Alomar to auto racer A.J. Foyt. How athletes can become addicted to their sports, to gambling, and even to their hormones, is discussed in post 16.
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My nerves just kept getting the better of me.
Golfer Gary Cowan
In this day and age, there may be more chances for athletes to become overaroused, to feel more pressure and anxiety to choke than ever before. And yet, ironically, there may be more information and strategies available for them to not only avoid choking, but to thrive on additional pressure.
There is more pressure today and more at stake, without a doubt, with all the million-dollar salaries, being in the spotlight with all the media attention, and the fan interest, said psychologist Stanley Teitelbaum, PhD. In the foreseeable future, I can see this increasing, leading to more pressure and anxiety because the fans love it. They’re demanding more and more from performance and attendance keeps getting greater. On the night before the championship game of the 1998 World Cup of soccer, Brazil’s Ronaldo, twice named the best soccer player in the world, suffered what doctors termed a type of convulsive fit brought on by emotional stress related to the big match. In Brazil, soccer is considered more of a religion than a sport and pressures from high stakes corporate sponsors may have also played on me 21-year-old Ronaldo’s mind. The next day, Ronaldo and his team were upset 3-0 by France as 1.7 billion people watched on television.
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