Enhancing our lives
with exercise and sport
By Barry S. Anton, PhD • APA President
“A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t.”
— Jack Dempsey
“Goooooooal!” In 1987, our 5-year-old daughter and her friends swarmed
like bumblebees around the soccer ball and cheered wildly when the ball
went into the net. A dozen parents whooped it up on the sideline. Chocolate
milk, oranges and pizza were the postgame treats. Competition, exercise and
food make good companions on a weekend day.
Unknown to my daughter at the time was how she and
other girls and women were benefiting from advocacy by
psychologists and others that led to Title IX, the federal law
passed in 1972 that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex
in any federally funded education program or activity.
Today, APA’s Div. 47 (Exercise and Sport Psychology)
continues that advocacy in another area important to
psychology and athletes: understanding concussion. Working
with other APA divisions, including those representing
neuropsychology, rehabilitation and the military, as well as
state, provincial and territorial psychological associations,
they have developed a Web-based “Concussion Toolkit,” which
includes empirically based general information on assessment
and treatment, information on “lessons learned” with regard
to legislation-based advocacy and a state-by-state repository of
concussion law to help psychologists protect competitors. You
can find the toolkit at www.apa.org/about/division/officers/
APA’s Div. 47 is also deeply involved in the scientific study
of the psychological factors associated with participating
in physical activity. Sport psychologists help athletes use
psychological principles to achieve optimal mental health to
improve performance, and study how physical activity affects
psychological development, health and well-being throughout
Sport touches central psychological issues in physical
and emotional development, self-appraisal, self-esteem,
belongingness and learning to overcome adversity. Sport
psychologists have a broad portfolio, focusing on behaviors
such as goal setting, training regimens, health enhancement,
concentration and attention, dealing with injury and
rehabilitation, advocacy, mental training and visualization,
Athletics and exercise have always been an important part of
our family life. From bumblebee soccer to hiking to skiing, we
enjoyed the family bonding and time outdoors. Early morning
and late evening practices taught the kids how to manage
their time wisely. Both of our children were college athletes,
where they learned self-discipline and team commitment that
helped to shape their values as adults. They, and we, learned to
cope with the frustration of injuries, losing and winning, and
experienced the special bond that athletes and their families
It is well known that sport and exercise can significantly
enhance health. Dr. Sarah Stimps, in her dissertation research,
found that California licensed psychologists who exercised
more than 60 minutes per week were more likely to recommend
exercise to their patients to reduce anxiety and depression.
But athletics are much more than personal health enhancers.
People live vicariously through their allegiances to their teams.
In fact, you don’t even need a real team, you can now create
your own fantasy team.
Teams can bond society in dramatic ways. The Seattle
Seahawk’s 12th Man jerseys and flags can be seen regularly in
the Northwest on Fridays before games.
APA also celebrates athleticism with our annual “Ray’s
Race” at convention to honor former CEO Raymond D. Fowler.
So let’s take a moment to recognize the work of our Div. 47
colleagues and our colleagues who appreciate the value of sport
and exercise in our lives.
Go, Hawks! n