Elite Athletes: Have we created a Monster

All elite athletes must have a desire to be the best, to be the number one in their sport – it’s a primal desire to compete and win. If they were missing this vital instinct they would not have the makings of a true champion.

Part of their psyche is to believe that they are the best, in fact untouchable, a class above the rest. They “value” winning above all else and so in their eyes and minds nothing else is as important.

It’s this belief that makes a champion and it has to be part of their makeup – if managed correctly it develops into a mindset that breeds success.

However it can also be the athletes “Achilles heel” their vulnerability – because if you believe you are “different” from the rest of society for long enough you’re “values” system changes becoming distorted and out of touch with that of your peers and of our culturally acceptable social standards.

For example if you take the current apparent break down in social structure  within the Australian football codes, some of the player’s behaviour appears to be Neanderthal, savage, even tribal at times. Yet you would expect this kind of mentality to have been stamped out of our society decades ago. It appears to be on the increase within certain sporting and social cultures. They certainly appear to have differing “Values” to that of the rest of our society?

So what is this “Values” system that appears to guide us through life and has such a big influence on our decision making, and how does it affect our lives on a daily basis?

A value is simply what is important to us. Values are one of the primary unconscious filters to the brain, through which we evaluate our environment and our subjective experiences. They determine what we sort for and experience in the world.

In fact it’s often referred to as our most unconscious filter system. That is, it operates well outside of our conscious awareness. A Value is a collection of beliefs around a certain subject. We all have them and they are as individual as our finger prints.

Beliefs are those convictions we trust as being true, like “the sky is blue, and the grass is green”? We have a way of coding and storing values in our bodies, where they are stored determines their importance to us. Our deepest values are often held well outside of our conscious awareness and are instantly accessible – (subconsciously) for reference.

Values provide the only form of sustainable motivation, as they are deep seated and totally logical to us!

Our Values system evolves as we mature and experience life obtaining an education and learning what is socially acceptable in our cultural environment.

If you think back 10 years ago – would you have made the same choices as you would today? Probably not. Why? Because you have evolved new sets of values that correlate to your experiences, culture and environment to date.

So if we think back to the behavioural problems experienced by certain football clubs, obviously the players who engage in these socially unacceptable acts have differing “Values” to you and me.

This is a situation that has partly been cultivated by the very people who have been given the duty to nurture and develop the profile of the sport and its athletes. And that is the clubs and their management teams!

The clubs take these young athletes, often who are struggling academically but who excel athletically giving them the opportunity of a life time, a large amount of money to “Play sport” as their career with national profiles, star like lifestyles and egos to rival some world leaders and chefs.

Making them hero’s and role models to others without ever really giving them the tools, education and coaching in how to manage this new found foreign lifestyle, this acquired stardom. Shifting their internal values system, teaching them that savage behaviour is not only acceptable on the field but necessary to be at the top of their game to be part of the “Pack”.

Society then expects them to make the mature and socially acceptable choices, making that differentiation between the field and the street.

Realistically they will no more make the right decision than they would drive a car perfectly first time without ever receiving driving lessons, its something that has to be taught and taught from a young age, nurtured if you like.

The other people who must accept some of the responsibility for this values shift in these young athletes are you and me! The very people who follow and support these clubs. Ultimately placing these “Athletes” on their pedestals, deeming their primal behaviour acceptable, if not openly certainly by continuing to support the clubs we are clandestinely doing so

So what can we do to “lift their game” to turn around this spiraling collapse of “Values” in some of these athletes?

In a one on one situation the sub-modalities of a person’s values can be altered, by identifying the neurological associations to the value and altering them or re-imprinting them with a more desirable value giving that person a different outlook and perspective! Positively influencing their filtration system, giving them more options when making decisions.

However if we want to change the “Culture” within the sport we have to look deeper at a long term education program, one that would incorporate all new and existing players, coaches, managers etc.

If our experiences determine our “Values” then if we expose these athletes to positive experiences and broaden their knowledge and education on life, cultures and society then their “Values” will also change.

“We must become the change we want to see.” ~ Ghandi

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