for Sports Professionals

Providing Content for Sports Officials, Coaches, and Athletes


“Fair play should be promoted not only with regard to players, but also in relation to the attitudes and behavior of the trainers, referees, and spectators” 

Junge et al. (2000)

What Type of Character Do Athletes Possess?
by Andy Rudd and Sharon Stoll, explains the moral and social implications of sports participation in team sport athletes versus non athletes.

"The reason why team sport athletes scored significantly higher than non athletes on the social character index may be as a result of the emphasis that coaches, parents, and general society place on values such as teamwork, loyalty, self-sacrifice, perseverance, and work ethic in team sports...sport is used as s vehicle to instill the types of values...that will allow them to go out into society and contribute to corporate America."

"As for why team sport athletes scored significantly lower than non athletes on the moral character index, the reason may relate to the socialization process in the sport milieu in which many team sport athletes learn that winning takes precedence over the moral ideal...many athletes have not been taught to appreciate moral idealism or the notion of moral character in competition."

These findings about social and moral scales can promote our efforts to become better not only physically and in competition, but also in regard to how athletes relate to one another on the playing-field.
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Athletes in the Zone:

How Knowledge about Athletes during Game Play May Contribute to Player Safety.

The elements of competition and characteristics of athletes that most closely relate to fair play, player safety, and risk on injury is vital information to consider when forming a picture of preparedness for competition.

The article, “Psychological and Sport-Specific Characteristics of Football Players” by Junge et al., (2000) was published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine.

It cites critical aspects of player performance that directly impact sports concerns such as risks of injury, fair play, and safety:

“The identification of factors that influence football performance could provide important information to improve the preparation for the game”

Factors that influence athletic performance during sports competitions are:  player’s concentrationreaction timecompetitive anxietycoping with adversityability to be coachedperformance under pressure, mental preparationhours spent trainingexperience, style of play, tendencieslevel of competition;

As well as psychological characteristics like attitudes, aggression or anger, and self-confidence.

The categories cited, as well as the study itself, is not exclusive to football players, and could be of great interest to coaches and officials in any sport. 

The study furthermore attempts to find a relationship between the myriad of players’ characteristics and fair play statements. The statements of fair play include themes like talking to and listening to opponents during a game, responding to provocation, “pay back,” and attitudes about doling out or receiving hidden fouls.


Preparation helps us during sports competition in regard to:

1) promoting positive attitudes towards fair play,

2) assessment of factors that contribute to the risk of injuries,

3) explaining how to maintain player safety

Sports professionals should assess fair play statements to focus on the  categories of sports-specific player characteristics or tendencies that best encourage fair play, prevent injuries, and maintain safety in any athletic contest.

Most notably, the study found that in regard to fair play, athletes have insufficient respect for the rules, regulations, and the spirit of the game.

Referees', Coaches', and Athletes' effort to create fair play should focus on promoting respect for opponents and the spirit of the game.

Also, Junge et al., describe a relationship between competitive anxiety and injuries.

Players who scored low on a “free from worries” scale were associated with a higher risk of injury.

The study says, “Regardless of the type of sport, high competitive anxiety, low coping skills, a higher anger trait, and outward expression of anger seem to increase the risk of a sports injury” (p. S-28).

It is therefore useful to teach sports participants including refs and coaches about these observed correlations:

1) “Do not talk to opponents during games” because psychologically, players who demonstrate this trait have better coping skills, concentration, lower anger trait, controlled anger, and expressed it outwardly less frequently than players who do talk.

2) “Do not listen to opponents,” since these athletes are more often mentally prepared, better able to cope with adversity, and easier to coach.

3) “Do not be provoked.”  Players more easily provoked tend to have a lack of concentration, have problems coping with adversity, and are harder to coach.


By linking specific game actions to general good habits and from knowledge of the psychological characteristics that contribute to safety, sports players, coaches, and referees can improve their ability to promote fairness, reduce injuries, and maintain a safe sports environment.