Let’s admit it; the world has changed – drastically. Our parents tell stories of how they played in the woods behind their house after school…now children can’t go to school without first passing through metal detectors. But sports – ahhh, sports – the wonderful Sunday routine of watching football, that feverish pitch in October that gets the baseball fans going, and the madness that is college basketball in March – our sports have remained our ‘ole faithful, right? Remaining pleasantly, comfortingly, and heart warmingly the same? Wrong.
Even the sports scene has grown a shade darker. Consider the 1972 Olympic Games held in Germany when Israeli Olympic athletes were kidnapped by Palestinians who were part of an organization called Black September. And the bomb attack during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta (Hall, Marciani, Cooper, & Rolen, 2007). As Hall et al. (2007) report, over half a million has been put towards the ultimate development of a model of how to determine the risks a sports venue faces, what might happen if the venue was attacked, and how to categorize and mitigate this risk. As more and more sport psychologists and performance consultants work with higher profile clients, it will become more and more imperative for them to understand these classification systems and anticipate how high levels of (terrorist) risk might affect their client’s performance. In fact, as I read Hall et al. (2007), I realized how easy it would be to substitute venue with athlete. If there are risk assessments for venues, why not the mental preparedness of an athlete to handle such an attack?
Although terrorism has prompted countless changes and enough research to overflow a landfill, a search on Psychinfo with “sport,” “assessment,” and “terrorism,” brings up only one article. Indeed, an assessment might be developed to determine the degree to which an athlete is anxious or worries about a terrorist attack at the venue where they perform, the potential this has to interrupt their mental game and consequently their performance, and in what ways. Athletes are, after all, the venue of their own mental game, and it only makes sense to assess the risk a terrorist attack poses to this citadel.
Hall, S., Marciani, L., Cooper, W. E., & Rolen, R. (2007). Introducing a risk assessment model for sports venues. The Sport Journal, 10(2). Retrieved from http://www.thesportjournal.org/article/introducing-risk-assessment-model-sport-venues