Printer Friendly


The field of psychology provided some - if not fundamentals, at least one language to criticize sport. So there has developed a kind of 'antipsychology' of sport.


I will try to describe this phenomenon taking into account the following major points:

* The themes of "psychological" opposed to sport

* Conceptual and ideological characters of such criticism and the postulates that it entails

* Hypotheses of a psycho-sociological nature, which we can examine on the theme of adhesion, which is given to "psychological" arguments opposed to sport.


The psychological themes developed in the critique of sport are quite well known. I will thank to remember them by summarizing them. Their common feature is that sport has, from the psychological point of view, adverse effects on the behavior of the individual, his personality and his relationships with other individuals; moreover, analogous effects would affect (affect) the spectator.

The theme of "robotization "

We have the idea that, with its thorough techniques, with its pedagogy of "stimulus-response" and conditioning the development of training, sport is a factor of "automation" of human behavior (behavior).

And the athlete's psychism is automated at the same time as his body. He is closed in the narrow system of a specialization of gestures, whose artificial and abstract character is denounced, and the repetitive tendency - compulsive and obsessional. There is no place for some creativity, however desirable.

The major emotional consequence of such automation and its corollaries is deep boredom, which the influence of the quantitative measure and bureaucratic regulation imposes on it. Attitudes and behavioral attitudes, marked by the dependence of individuals and engaging in crowds, are also being made.

The theme of the negative report with another individual

Sport, and especially competition, are accused of exacerbating a rivalry that opposes individuals and groups, against each other, developing dominant feelings of jealousy and envy instead of sociability.

The psychological criteria of sport insist much on the destructive violence manifested not only as a means of defeating at any cost, but as a way of being. They also emphasize that sports selection and hierarchy cause many subjects to be complex or rejected, while the rare subjects that appear and win, isolate themselves in a consciousness of ostentatious superiority or sometimes even become prey to feelings of guilt.

The theme of instinct suppression

In sport, the body and the universe of senses and pleasure would be oppressed. Sexual impulses would be suppressed and circumvented and the sporting exercise would be a proof of a "lack of joy offered by them" (Andrei, P., 1997, The Philosophy of Culture - Iasi, Polirom Publishing House).

In support of this idea Freud is quoted, and for example, this text: "Modern education uses much of the sport to divert the attention of youth from sexual activity; it would be more right to say that it replaces sexual specific satisfaction (joy) with that which causes the movement and that it causes sexual activity to regress at one of its autoerotic stages. "

It is also talked about the implantation into sports psychism of a structure that refers to the sado-masochistic character that allows the individual to enjoy his own pain.

The theme of personality damage

In a general way, criticism makes sport appear as a factor of disinformation and personal imbalance. It makes the individual suffer too much stress and excessive stress. It produces inhibitions and frustrations, creates complexities of superiority as well as inferiority and failure.

The motivations, rather than being intrinsic, become extinct and precarious, less self-sufficient to provide the athlete with substantial satisfaction; they even threaten to cause disgust for participating in the sports competition. Finally, the emotional way associated with all this is a fundamental anxiety (disorder) that deeply disrupts its personality (Miftode, V., 1995, Sociological Methodology, Porto- Franco Publishing House, Galati).

A fifth theme relates not only to athletes but also to their spectators. The sport show engages, manages, aligns and pushes them to violence; at the same time, deprives them of any real power (ie, politics) of fighting. It is also said that the passive participants in the sport are embarrassed and subjected to the mythical prestige of idol champions.

After briefly reviewing these themes (and to speak very pessimistically), let us now look at some of their epistemological characters and ask ourselves what their suppositions may be.

Under the psychological themes

A first observation is that these themes, which are placed on the ground of psychological phenomena, are rarely developed in the works of psychologists.

These themes appear frequently in polemic speeches, which are characterized by a generalization of isolated cases, chosen for the needs of the cause and providing simple examples instead of established scientific data. These examples belong to the sphere of high-performance sport and professionalism. The extrapolations that are performed do not really have much to do with the mass of practitioners of sport. Frankly speaking, I am not at all undertaking empirical research, behavior (behavior) following methodological procedures, which would bring authentic proofs of intrinsically 'destructive' properties of psychologically sport. Particularly, longitudinal studies, which we would be right to expect in this respect, are absent (Grosu, N., 1997, The Essentials of Sociology--Bucharest, Ed. Militara).

We then notice that, especially at the level of the effects of the practice and the sport show, the themes I have mentioned have been expressed. Or, a more radical way could have been imagined, according to which sport would have been considered as the very effect and reflection of a deficient or deficient mental structure. If this was not the way chosen by sports critics, it is due to the fact that:

* Then they undoubtedly brutalized the brutal idea that remains broadly favorable to sport, and indeed, in the eyes of many, the actual illustration of the famous "mens sana in corpore sano"

* A purely psychological criticism risked appearing apolitical and not putting at all, the power and ideology of the sport in question

* Finally, how he wants to influence people and his rally, it is of course more tactical to insinuate that athletes are victims of sports institutions and industry.

In fact, under the "psychological" themes evoked, there is a social and ideological analysis that seeks to expand its field of action.

And to get better here, she takes the opposite of all those who, on Coubertin's line, have not hesitated to do, very freely, a sort of psychoapology of sport (sport as a character education, like the development of social sense, etc.).

It can be seen, therefore, that in an ideological field and not in the paths of psychological science, criticism is rooted. This closed field is defined by a conceptual interpretation that has been formulated with regard to sport (lately) by the theoreticians, but which many or few athletes share.

I do not need to recall these socio-political ideas so often fought, or their variants, but I would like to add that between these ideological foundations of the critique of sport and the "psychological" themes, in which it happens a certain number of implicit postulates, which we could classify as psychological ideas, and which operate the passage on which the established scientific facts and laws, avoid such an obvious evasion.


Reflecting more specifically on applications, on sports criticism, here are some of these postulates:

* The body is not a car

* The body is the expression of a spontaneity, in which man is even more himself as the environment is free from obstacles, (rules) and constraints

* The spontaneity of each individual is novel and creative; so it is immeasurable: selection, competition, hierarchy are coercive

* Man is never so much in himself as when he plays

* The fundamental structure of the relationship with another individual is an indifferent and informal state of coexistence

It is not appropriate to discuss these postulates, which are quite Utopian. I would just like to suggest that they are behind critical approaches, which objective research did not direct. And even at the level of the apparent description of the facts, from which they say they are leaving, they contribute to represent the phenomena in a just deformed mirror. It is thus appreciated as very cheap what is actually and truly experienced by athletes. But we do not wonder if a caricature phenomenology supports arbitrary psychology.

The attraction force of the themes

In order to complete these few reflections, I want in this third part to advance (in an absolutely short term) some hypotheses regarding the psychosociological explanation of the adhesion to the themes and postulates that I have just spoken of.


Hypothesis 1: The origins of such an impoverished adherence based objectively may be a motivating subjective state. I would see it in a resentment that, in various ways, would make it clear that it opposes sports: ambitions disappointed (missed) by some top athletes; inferior complex of physically inaccurate individuals; the envy of the one who hardly endures as a champion to make a career and a destiny because of his "muscles"; contempt by people who place culture under the only sky of Ideas, Intelligence and Art, the need to justify inactivity. In all these cases, a deprecating portrait of sport would provide an alibi, a revenge, a reassurance.

Hypothesis 2: A contemptuous mentality of comfort, the taste of light life, the habit of technical and social assistance (but which at the same time deny the force of technology that has even produced material and human progress) is rejected by the values of sport, the opposite of the facility, cultivating the energy effort and the effective effort (ie the technique), the rigor and privilege the principle of reality and action. From where the tendency to subscribe to the theses of sport, suggesting the idea that the athlete is a kind of slave of an absurd work of muscles. With regard to, in particular, the bitterness of the technical aspects of sport, it must be understood from the inability of the modern man to assimilate and dominate from the inside the technological universe from which he still lives and his tendency to to take refuge in the Utopia of absolute spontaneity and informality.

Hypothesis 3: The "psychological" critique of sport has turned psycho-pedagogical (and application) into some representatives of the physical education and sports education environment; its main themes and boasting are indeed reprinted as: universal remedy, pure play, "body expression" (which is neither dance nor pantomime, nothing that can be defined and whose concept seems to remain only ' 'privative").

A set of conditions that exist in this environment would favor the adherence of physical education teachers to the criticism of sport, especially under its "psychological" version. First of all, there are many of them taking care of a sport whose development and destiny escape and whose weight they do not want - and rightly so - to bear in the form of obvious deviations and aberrations. But moreover, in their slow evolution of conquering a status of complete educators and of a full role in the work of culture, the practices that are embedded under the terms of " bodily expression " of " body language ", etc. They seem to be better suited to their aspirations than to go as specialists at the service of sports techniques; and they then teach a language !(Draghicescu, D., 1996, From the Psychology of the Romanian People--Bucharest, Ed. Albatros).

Finally, by not staying masters of the body, their transition from sports contains the hope of reserving leadership in the field of unsportsmanlike physical activities that, in multiple forms and in a climate of liberating psychology - yoga, bioenergy - claim to save man and his psychic balance through the development of his body.

Hypothesis 4: Another category of people may have given reasons for adopting themes of sports criticism; it is not about those sports psychologists who have just been in the service of high-performance sports to improve champions performance, to select talents, to maximize the training and training of those whose reasons await victories and recordings and to offer them sometimes, too late, the good offices of a "psychotherapeutic nurse".


To conclude, I will only say a word. My belief is that the "psychological" aspects borrowed by the critique of sport for the circumstance rely more on ideological speculation than on actual psychological research. In this respect, if we are to be grateful for these critical criticisms of drawing attention to certain issues that are particularly concerned with the deviations of sport, they have so far been unable to provide the means to determine objectively advancing research in this respect. I even wonder if they do not rather prevent them from finding them to the extent that, indeed, this critique applies to conceptual schemes made in any circumstance.


Andrei, P., 1997, The Philosophy of Culture - Iasi, Polirom Publishing House.

Bondrea, A., 1993, Sociology of Culture - Publishing House of Romania Foundation, Bucharest.

Carstea, Ghe., 1997, Physical Education - A.N.E.F.S., Bucharest.

Draghicescu, D., 1996, From the Psychology of the Romanian People - Bucharest, Ed. Albatros.

Kiritescu, C., 1964, Palestrica - Bucharest, UCFS.

Grosu, N., 1997, The Essentials of Sociology - Bucharest, Ed. Militara.

Miftode, V., 1995, Sociological Methodology - Porto-Franco Publishing House, Galati.


(1) "Gheorghe Asachi" Technical University of Iasi, Department of Teaching Training--Physical Education and Sports


(*) the abstract was published in the 18th IS. C. "Perspectives in Physical Education and Sport" - Ovidius University of Constanta, May 17-19, 2018, Romania

Received 10 march 2018 / Accepted 5 may 2018
COPYRIGHT 2018 Ovidius University of Constanta
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2018 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Constantin, Rancea Ady
Publication:Ovidius University Annals, Series Physical Education and Sport/Science, Movement and Health
Article Type:Report
Date:Sep 15, 2018

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters