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Why Performance Sport Creates Culture of "Not Good Enough"

men in sport Aug 30, 2022

It’s been 9 months since I began the research into the men behind sport.

Currently, I’ve interviewed 94 men across different disciplines (S&C, physio, nutrition, technical sport coaches, heads of service, performance directors), countries (Finland, France, Malaysia, Spain, U.K., U.S.A.) and sports.

Many things have surprised me in this journey so far and one of them is the consistent themes that have surfaced. It's staggering to hear many discuss feelings of "I'm not good enough."

There have been 3 common perspectives of why performance sport maybe creating a culture of not good enough:

  1. The ambiguousness of whether we have done a good job or not in performance
  2. Tendency for organisations to demand high quality AND high volumes often
  3. Unshaped personal boundaries

I certainly agree with these based on my personal experience as well.

High performance sport is of course not all bad & I have a love for it still. Yet there is currently little to no voice on the damaging parts to sport that I'm hearing about time and again.

Natural striving is healthy, we're all built to create & innovate. It's the beauty of being human.

The skew of this is that men, who are generally unskilled at expressing emotions due to culture, are being driven to significant emotional cost based on unhealthy striving.

I'm confident that you are reading this Jonas and feeling even a light relief that this is being discussed.

Without checking your default habits I believe many of us are led by an out of date map of what it is to be a man. I feel this is one of the reasons we get caught up in feeling "not good enough."

Look at this summary of the 4 male archetypes that I've adapted from what's stood out in my research so far (original work by Gilbert & Moore, 1990).

What archetype shadow traits most stand out for you in your life currently?

I certainly was effected by my unconscious thoughts & feelings that led me repeatedly to behave in ways that resulted in significant emotional cost for me.

Pressure to be better is suffocating, culture changes with people. My aim is to add to this positive change.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

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