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The Haze

abuseinsports adaptability behavior boundaries coaching mental toughness myths Jul 20, 2023

Why can't a bank keep a secret? Too many tellers. This is Mental Fitness Fridays. I'm Hans.

WBBM in Chicago interviewed me about hazing. Northwestern fired football coach Pat Fitzgerald because of hazing. Here's a link to the original story: 

One question was, how do things like this still happen? I'll clear the haze. The mental toughness myths and traps. Pain, punishment, and suffering make you better no matter what it is. Hide your feelings. Show 'em? You're soft. Be an emotional superhero—unaffected by anything. Prove your toughness. Don't ask what we are doing and why. It's tradition—we had to. It's harmless. It didn't bother me. Why does it bother you? You need to show you care.

The most problematic myth? What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room. Jerry Sandusky and Larry Nassar counted on it. Rituals that mark joining a team are important. So is keeping things private. There are ways to do both without compromising someone's basic humanity or sense of self existence. You may have to search and work hard to find them.

Mental fitness means being flexible, adaptive, and self aware. A problem solver who identifies the consequences of actions.

The adjustment we need to make? Leaders need to give clear bright lines about what's acceptable and what's not. Even if you don't think your athletes are capable of the "worst"—make it clear that the worst is not acceptable.

In ethics class in grad school, we learned the bright light concept. You ask, am I willing to shine a bright light on my decisions or plans? Or what would my grandma think? Would I want to tell her? Even better, just assume you will get caught. That is game changing.

This won't be the last time hazing costs someone a job, because it happened or because they didn't know. That's why we need to change the conversation to mental fitness. Share our emails and share us on Youtube, Insta, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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