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The Forum > Article Comments > Elite athletes - everyone loves a winner > Comments

Elite athletes - everyone loves a winner : Comments

By Bronwyn Magdulski, published 16/6/2005

Bronwyn Magdulski argues our elite athletes need to be emotionally robust to deal with the rigours of the media and competition.

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Itís so refreshing to see some recognition that athletes, like other public figures, are whole people!
Posted by p, Thursday, 23 June 2005 6:08:37 PM
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It's interesting that the vast majority of media formulated criticism is directed at those who don't have an equal voice - the athlete, the coach, or the referee. Why don't journalists criticise each other? It's certainly not as though commentators donít make multiple egregious calls during the course of a game/performance - many belying ignorance and an unprofessional level of preparation. Perhaps they don't wish to hurt their colleagues, or perhaps they don't wish to open themselves up for genuine assessment. Far easier just to make inane and uninformed comments about people who generally don't have the capacity to adequately defend themselves.
Posted by simon m, Friday, 24 June 2005 3:58:54 PM
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Well said. As workers in any other field, we would not put up with the public scrutiny of our personal or professional careers. Professional and semi- professional athletes have make enormous sacrifices to get to the top. When we review their performances on and off the field we need to remember that they are real people with real feelings. They should be treated with respect.
Posted by SG, Wednesday, 29 June 2005 12:20:19 PM
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Some years ago now I watched my son playing footy on a Sunday morning. He was 7 years old. On the opposing side was a coach shouting some of the most disgusting directions to his charges.
So too were the parents from both sides. If our athletes are to develop an emotionally robust capacity, it needs to begin with how they are introduced to sport and how we adults inculcate in them what it means to truly compete for fun and for competition. Think of how many very talented athletes give up before they even start because so many failed athletes are charged with teaching them what sport is about? Its time to stop the cycle of spoil sporting.
Posted by Rainier, Wednesday, 29 June 2005 7:50:59 PM
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It's easy to say if athletes (whether they're 7 or 27) can't handle the heat they should get out of the kitchen - but realistically there's often something keeping them there - such as a fundamental love of the sport, or even perhaps a perceived inability to earn a living doing anything else but the sport.

So why are athletes not taught to appreciate their own sense of achievement, and measure their own success or failure, and why are they not taught to manage their feelings about the public's opinions about them, and the politics behind their selection or non-selection? Perhaps the point about the small child and his team mates being asked (or ordered) to live out the failed dreams of the parents or coach is an obvious place to start.
Most people know of someone who is following "their dreams" which are really only the thinly disguised dreams of their parents. How can that help the athlete develop a sense of their own worth that can withstand the ego bashing they'll receive from armchair experts? It's certainly not the only cause for a fading sense of self-worth, or for wondering why you're putting yourself through the pain of training and sacrifice, but it is a valid starting point.
Posted by BKM, Wednesday, 6 July 2005 3:50:28 PM
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Well said BKW. When we look at some of our most elite athletes (and their off-field foibles) you can't help but wonder if they had passive aggressive parents.

Look at professional tennis and itís full of side-line parents who appear to use a sinister emotional terror to get their 'kids' to perform on cue.

The same kind of phenomena happens with child models. Yes sport is naturally competitive but we need to critically examine when Ďcompetitioní (in all its strategic manifestations) becomes the primary imperative for all participation.

Social and cultural values in early sport and athletics are not aligned with the fact that only a small percentage of young athletes will make it into the big league. At the end of the day itís bad for sport and even worse for our children.

So for me, this article by Bronwyn Magdulski is arguing about issues of sporting capabilities at the wrong end of the sport and athletic spectrum. We shoud be focusing on what to do when our young ones begin to walk,run, throw and love sport.
Posted by Rainier, Wednesday, 6 July 2005 5:17:59 PM
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