Sports & Athletes as Healers? (Guest Post)

I once mentioned to a dear old friend that I thought school teachers should be paid what sports players make and the guys who run around with a little ball should be paid a teacher’s wage. My friend, also a healer, replied, “We need sports as an outlet for frustration and aggression. Instead of invading neighboring tribes and villages, that energy is channeled into organized play. The team is the tribe. The games themselves are the attack. It’s valuable to our society.”

Hmmm. You mean it might be worthwhile to pay millions of dollars to guys in little matching uniforms so they can wave a stick, tackle each other or run back and forth on a little rectangle while bouncing a ball? Interesting concept.

Perhaps the reason why school teachers aren’t making more money is because they aren’t preventing village attacks. But sports-as-healer? I wanted to consider this.

Sports do prevent violence among our youth. They offer society an outlet for pent up emotions. We know that putting young boys in sports keeps them active, physically fit, focused and out of trouble. For all involved, there are natural lessons in cooperation, group contribution, patience, winning and losing. At its best, sports inspire confidence, enthusiasm and camaraderie.

But what about the oft-cited claim that domestic violence increases the day of the Super Bowl? Does that punch a hole in the “healer” theory? Maybe the players don’t earn too much money unless they’re abusing dogs or sending photos of their private parts to young women?

Oh, let’s not go there. It just puts more holes in the theory.

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately – ever since the San Francisco Giants began their journey to the World Series. Living in Giants territory, it’s mania around here.



Giants paraphernalia cannot be escaped, even in my own house. My dog, who didn’t miss a single game all season, sets out on his morning walk donning a bright orange collar against his black coat. The cat sat in front of the wide screen for every game, as well, apparently a discriminating Bochy follower. My husband, a 50+ years Giants fan, still wants a “Let Timmy Smoke” t-shirt.


Over the past decade, its been my habit to just ignore competitive sports. After all, don’t they promote fighting and conflict? Aren’t they the cause of some nasty human behavior? Isn’t it unspiritual – folks spitting on each other, throwing things, screaming obscenities, actually hitting each other? Granted, the latter was something I witnessed at a Red Sox-Yankees game in Boston where I spent more time watching police round up unruly fans than I spent watching the game. Uncivilized!

But lately, I’ve seen my beliefs softening. I’ve watched a group of what I call “sweet boys” (all of whom I’ve grown to love) work together for a common goal, support and encourage each other, and say only wonderful things about opposing teams and players. (Okay, there was that one thing between Jonathan Sanchez and Utley…).

So are they worth the money? I can only speak from my experience. Sometimes appearing as a scrappy bunch of street kids, the guys gave it all they’ve got. “Misfits and cast-offs,” an unconventional bunch of underdogs, quickly came together to form a cohesive group with a desire to succeed. Hailing from varied backgrounds, revealing their quirks for all to see, they demonstrated how cultures, idiosyncrasies and differences can be integrated into a heartfelt, valiant group endeavor.

It’s said they are perhaps the most endearing team in Giants history. And I get it. They’ve shown millions of people how to prevail, to get up again as if it’s a brand new day, offer your best and have fun while doing it. They’ve shown us the spirit of courage and love. Yes, it’s true! Not uncivilized at all – and quite worthwhile.

This has been a happy week for Northern Californians and Giants fans scattered around the country. We not only channeled our emotions and lost our voices, we’ve been inspired. We’ve run the gamut from hope to despair and back again, many times.

Athletes as healers? I think so, and worth the high salaries – if not all the time, then much of the time, especially in days like these.

Christina Grant, PhD

Read more by Dr. Grant on her blog, Dr. Grant Holistic


Image by artolog via Flickr


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