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Narcissistic Athletes

After listening, reading and watching the events leading up to LeBron James televised news conference to announce he had signed with the Miami Heat, I heard many reporters discuss LeBron’s  “narcissistic attitude. One prominent NBA expert stated that he thought LeBron’s ego was bigger than several entire NBA teams. When was the last time you saw an athlete have an entire television one hour special to announce where he would be playing next year? I brought this topic up on my radio show this past week and had numerous comments from youth sport coaches to a former Major League manager as well as from a former member of the 1985 World Series Champion, Kansas City Royals. All agreed that athletes who are too self focused can be not only detrimental to the team, but to their own performance as well. Narcissism is defined as. “the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit or simple selfishness. Applied to a social group, it is sometimes used to denote elitism or an indifference to the plight of others.” So essentially a narcissistic athlete is someone who thinks he/she is bigger and more important than the team. So how do we as parents and coaches especially in youth and high school sports deal with and handle an athlete who feels they are above the team. I think the first step is making sure everyone knows their role on the team. As a youth sport or high school coach, I believe you should start the season with a mandatory meeting with parents and athletes. In this meeting, you not only discuss the schedule for the year, but also the role of sportsmanship, team unity and communication channels between coach, athlete and parents. A lot of problems can be eliminated or prevented by having this meeting. If you can define winning and losing, explain your coaching philosophy regarding who starts and who is a reserve, you will help identify and learn about who will be more demanding than others to coach. The feedback I received on my radio show from the coaches and athletes at all levels, made it very clear that when you have an athlete and or parents who think they are above everyone else on the team, you will have a problem not only with them but with the other athletes as well. As long as you coach, you will have athletes with different abilities and talents. But, if you allow these athletes to let their talents go to their head, you will eventually have trouble not only controlling their ego, but will have other athletes who could develop serious self-confidence issues. Remember that you as the coach, are the one in charge, not the athlete. Have assistant coaches working with you who you trust and depend on for their opinions. Always emphasize that a team is about the group, not the individual athlete. One popular definition of team, is that ‘Together Everyone Achieves More”.

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