I came across an article written by Dr. Bhrett McCabe called The Burdens That Athletes Face. We seem to forget that athletes are people. They have the same challenges in life that we all do. The public thinks that just because they make millions of dollars a year they do not have a care in the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. This week I saw two incidences from Toronto Maple Leaf Austen Mathews. The first one was a loss of focus on a back check in overtime where he was slowed down and fell down. He did not get up fast enough because he was bitching to the official. The end result was the opposition scored and the Leaf’s lost. The second was a vicious cross check to Sabres Ramus Dalhin because he was getting roughed up in front of the net. The result, a two game suspension. Not many people have linked these incidences, but I felt they were connected somehow. I then read the article and it became very clear. The link was expectations.
Expectations are entitlements. They are driven by fears and doubts and use past experiences to create hope for future outcomes. You see this team and its collection of stars, they are expected to win. I do not know how many times the Toronto media have cast them as the second coming and then the team comes up short. Athletes try to raise their expectations levels because they’re hoping for an outcome that will meet these expectations. When that happens, as in these two incidences the performance doesn’t meet those expectations and reality comes crashing in on them. The blasting of officials and the violence of the cross check is a result of the expectation/entitlement. Hey, I am Austen Mathews, I play for the Leaf’s, I am top 10 player in the NHL how dare you do this to me.
The expectation gap between reality and belief is what creates this divide. Athletes feel let down and frustrated when reality doesn’t meet their expectations and in this case he was bang on. Matthews expected a call to be made on both occasions and when it did not he got pissed off. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have high demands and goals – quite the opposite. To counter unrealistic expectations, athletes must approach their practice sessions and competitive events with purpose, mental engagement, intent, and a specific plan for every play, shift, shot, etc. They must also resist the temptation to guarantee an outcome or result.( Dr. Bhrett McCabe )
It is going to interesting to watch the Leaf’s going forward. I my opinion I see members of this team who have elite talent but carry an air of entitlement. The entitlement is fueled by a media market that is craving to end a 55 year drought in the quest for the Cup .
Many hockey pundit’s are saying they should be going after a goaltender. Yes, they need a proven goalie, but not an elite goalie like some are suggesting. What they need to trade the entitlement/expectations for purpose, mental engagement, and a specific plan for every game and practice. Then they may have a chance.
The challenge will be staying with it.
Until next time.
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