Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Time for Anger Solutions in Sport

View Julie Christiansen's profile on LinkedInThis Just In from

Dominic Brock 11/03/09

Roosters forward Anthony Cherrington will face court on his 21st birthday to be sentenced for assault as rugby league’s horror run with the law continues.Cherrington is undertaking anger management classes and counselling after pleading guilty to an assault from last year.The 20-year-old forward admitted to striking Monique Mears in the face and on the body, before threatening her with a knife. He then smashed her sunglasses, mobile phone and car mirrors 10 days later.Cherrington paid Ms Mears $3000 to cover damage to her property after the attack, and is now obtaining a psychological report to present at his sentencing hearing later this month.Fellow Rooster Setaimata Sa will appear in court next month to appeal a conviction for fracturing a man’s skull in a pub fight more than 12 months ago. He received 250 hours’ community service.

So tell me again why athletes don't need anger solutions? We tend to place people like athletes, models, actors, musicians, and even some politicians (e.g. Barack Obama) on pedestals. We assume that their power, authority, and/or fame somehow makes them better than the rest of us. This is our first mistake.

People are just people, people! Everybody makes mistakes. Everyone has flaws in their character. Just because someone is rich and famous doesn't mean s/he might not be messed up inside because of faulty thinking, poor upbringing, inability to cope with the pressures of the limelight - whatever.

In this case, we are looking at the sport of Rugby. Only a few weeks ago, Sean Avery of hockey fame was the poor sucker being lambasted for his lack of good judgement, as well as a severe case of "foot-in-mouth disease". Next week, it will be someone else, perhaps from the football or baseball walls of fame (sorry A-Rod) who will be sent off to "anger management" to help them deal with their choices of misbehaviour.

Here's what I think. First of all - we know that anger management is for the most part a band aid. We also know that band aids are only temporary measures. The principles learned and the skills acquired through Anger Solutions are lasting - we have the data to prove this. Anger Solutions has also been proven to work in the toughest settings (military, police, corrections, mental health, addictions, failing marriages, domestic violence, and more). Why is it so successful? Because we realize what I said earlier. People are just people. It really doesn't matter what their profession is, or where they find themselves because of their poor choices - we focus on the people first, and the problems second. BECAUSE - we know that if we help people to take the steps required to create radical, positive, lasting change, the problems will work themselves out in the process.

The sporting profession desperately needs to have a tool like Anger Solutions in place. It is time to get pro-active, realizing that athletes are people who are exceptionally skilled at a particular sport. BUT - they are people first. They come to the sport with their own personal histories, skeletons in their closets, emotional challenges, and flawed decision making models. Anger Solutions is a way to help athletes create change BEFORE they end up splattered all over the news sheets and Internet blogs (like this one). Think about the damaged reputations, the expense of hiring your own spin doctors to turn around the bad PR, the losses in endorsements, and the criminal charges that could be avoided if sports leagues ascribed to Anger Solutions in advance.