by William Van Ornum, Ph.D. on
Many of the public and well as the mental health professions have never heard of the phrase “sports wound.” This refers to males who do not display athletic prowess or good eye-hand coordination. As much as we may want to deny this, boys who lack sports ability often are teased and bullied through their growing up years.
Yes, many coaches and physical education teachers are sensitive to this and intervene. But even if the teasing and bullying stops, the boy has received a message that he can’t handle himself like the other boys in this situation.
Wise parents and teachers guide the youngster into pursuits where they have strengths or talents and can attain success. Judo, karate, scouts, non-competive sports, carpentry, archery, and many other venues offer boys with the “sports wound” a chance to succeed.
Historically boys with the “sports wound” have been teased as being homosexual. Whatever his sexual orientation, it is cruelty to be on the receiving end of such comments. And these hurtful words continue to be spoken on athletic fields and phys ed classes around the world.
Our society rewards athletes. When even the President of the United States, a man attuned to racism and prejudice, taunts retarded children by saying is low score in bowling was “like someone in the Olympics”, we realize the strong and continuing presence of factors leading to the sports wounds.
We may tell children aout how many great high school athletes burn out right after high school and end up in menial jobs. But smart youngsters will also note the many highly successful men whose success is in heavy measure supported by the self-esteem and drive that comes from success in the athletic arena.
I wonder if this same sports wound phenomenon is happening to girls, now that there are so many girls sports. Intriguing. we need to watch for this, listen to the children, and obtain some data.
The “sports wound” shows us some of the sadnesses and paradoxes of a lack of athletic talent, and how many times thiis is associated with bullying and teasing which are strongly supported by attitudes putting athletic skills up on the pedastal.