On Shaming in Sports
In her article, “Shame on Rutgers–Shame on Us,” which came out in Psychology Today today, Dr. Marilyn Price-Mitchel points to the evils of shaming in sports. She highlights the righteous indignation of Governor Chris Christie who asks, “What parent would let this animal back into their living room to try to recruit their son?”
He who is without fault, throw the first stone.
Yes, yelling and public humiliation are dramatic examples of adults shaming kids. But let’s name the iceberg that this is the tip of: the effort to manipulate and control other people’s behavior. It doesn’t just happen on the sports field. It happens at home and in school, as well. It happens in a myriad of more insidious ways, too. Even praise can be one of the more subtle ways that adults can undermine confidence.
The bad guy, here, is the general understanding that it is the adult’s job to give or engineer a child success, confidence and well-being. It can’t be done, and attempts to do so have negative side effects. Watch “My Fair Lady,” again. (“Just you wait.” “Without You.”)
Thoughts on Adult Authority
We in authority need to keep learning how to exercise authority in a way that increases the authority of others. Authority based on coercive power, is not really all that powerful—just scary and potentially destructive. Authority based on the disciplined pursuit of loving relationships guided by reason and empathy–that is the business we all are in, not just coaches, not just teachers, but all of us.