BELIEFS AND THE RELIGIOSITY OF SPORTS: A COMMENTARY
Brent S. Rushall, January 4, 2007.
If incredible dogma is reiterated often enough by many, it becomes knowledge to the satisfaction of the masses. Religions have grown this way. It also is why absurd and misinformed coaching principles develop and become part of coaching lore, albeit of the "folk" type. The only way to eradicate this perpetuation of ignorance is to challenge it with acceptable science, not "science" of the type that has given rise to the "Intelligent Design" disguise of creationism. Thus, in sport and in particular baseball, there are "Coaching Creationists" borne of various motivations to perpetuate fictions contrary to the true nature of baseball or any sport. [Inspired by Sam Harris, 2005, p. 99]
The above interpretation of the development of absurd beliefs is an example of one of the most basic principles of psychology, "The more someone repeats a premise of belief, the more likely they are to accept that belief without concern".
The actions of Coaching Creationists parallel those of adherents of a religion. The religion analogy goes further to coaching organizations being governed by individuals with particular beliefs (and often Coaching Gods and Idols). They perpetuate those beliefs by orchestrating the content of presentations and the personalities that provide those presentations at conventions, conferences, and clinics, the forms of gathering that are popular in sport coaching circles. Almost without exception, the presented content is in accord with the limited beliefs of the administrators and seldom venture into new potential dogma or science that undermines established beliefs.
With the rise of the Internet and mass communications, the proliferation of experts on religions has been remarkable. The "Televangelists" and new age Christian Fundamentalists have become increasingly noticeable and many. This expansion is supported and inspired by the self-interests of the individuals involved as the principal authorities in promotions. So too has been the emergence of sporting "experts". The publication of beliefs, unsubstantiated claims of credibility, and the repetition of credibility-inspiring terms (particularly "scientific" but without actual science), leads to the self-avowal of worth. Behind the majority of these experts' web sites is an avenue for income generation. Of particular note is the sale of devices and manuals of secret words that supposedly will produce performance improvements in very short times. Claims usually are justified by the testimonies of "satisfied customers". The claimed miracles are believed by many; an amazing example of the manipulability of the masses. The religions of sport-in-general or sports-in-particular are alive and well. Their value is questionable at best and destructive at least, but does further manifest a phenomenon of the development of the human race: "Believing is seeing", although often the gerunds are interchanged.
Often the "Coachingvangelists", or Coaching Gurus, are not the best educated or appropriately qualified individuals to represent a sport or sporting organization. The success of these individuals is not governed by the validity of their premises about the sport and/or coaching, but rather by the resources and strategies employed in their self-promotion, that is, their "selling".
Reference. Harris, S. (2005). The end of faith. New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
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