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Are athletes more prone to violence?

Author explores anger issues among sports participants

Fans and media personalities sometimes question the link between sports and violence, given incidents with football, basketball and even women's college soccer players, to name a few.  In Anger Management in Sport: Understanding and Controlling Violence in Athletes (Human Kinetics, 2010), author Mitch Abrams confronts stereotypes and addresses anger in a variety of sport contexts.

Abrams blames media headlines for the widely held notion that athletes gravitate toward violence more readily than non-athletes. “Athletes are not more violent than non-athletes,” Abrams asserts. “Athletes are human. Many people in our society struggle with anger, and some athletes do as well. The goal is to start the journey toward helping athletes and those working with them handle their emotions and live to their fullest potential in life.”

The author draws on his experience with everyone from high school athletes to prison inmates to bring greater understanding and strategic direction to overcome excessive anger and aggression in athletes. His unique insight aims to stimulate discussion on a range of issues associated with anger in sport, including mental illness, drugs, and differences and similarities in amateur and professional athletes.

Abrams presents unique strategies, like “entourage training,” which he says, “makes sense to train one of the athlete's associates to learn conflict resolution, identification of pending problems, anger management, etc., to help the athlete avoid such quandaries where the wrong decision could result in them losing their opportunities.”

Real-world situations presented in Anger Management in Sport help readers picture how to use anger management skills in their own lives and careers. By considering the various stakeholders involved and the preventive measures that can be taken, researchers and professionals may discover best practices and strategies for anger management in today's sport society.

Studying anger and violence is a difficult task, according to Abrams, and studying it in athletes is even more daunting. “Improvement is needed on both angles of anger management,” he says. “Further development is needed in programs to help athletes reduce the intense emotions that interfere with peak performance as well as the emotions that can lead to on-field or off-field violence.”