Academic journal article The Sport Journal

When Pride Goes Wrong

Academic journal article The Sport Journal

When Pride Goes Wrong

Article excerpt

The term pride is often viewed in a favorable light. It conjures up positive images such as a toddler's glee after successful performance of a task, a parent's delight in the athletic accomplishment of a child, a coach's jubilation following an important victory, and an athlete's elation after a record-setting performance. Few would find fault with these positive images of pride.

Pride, however, can degenerate into something abhorrent. Athletes cheat and injure others in order to achieve success and bolster their pride. Coaches can become controlling and abusive of athletes as they seek success and enhancement of their pride. Parents meddle into the affairs of coaches and abuse their children in the pursuit of athletic success, their means to enhancing parental pride. Pride can be the motivation for antagonistic actions as individuals compete for the social standing, fame, and riches associated with athletic success.

"In truth, pride is double-edged: destructive and ludicrous in the wrong place and the wrong proportions, but heroic and admirable in the right ones" (19, p. 46). How does pride positively serve individuals as they navigate the waters of social relationships and as they pursue success? How does pride, which can serve as a positive social attribute, become something negative? In order to answer these questions, the nature of pride as well as its positive social functions shall be examined. Hubristic pride will be explored as the origin of many ills plaguing sport and society. When pride suggests traces hubris, it becomes a negative force in the lives of many and all that fall within reach of its acridity. By better understanding the difference between pride and hubristic pride, coaches, parents and administrators may be better able to take action to prevent hubristic pride from causing harm to themselves or others.

The Nature of Pride and Its Positive Functions

Pride is a basic emotion observed universally in human beings (35). It is exhibited through specific and recognizable non-verbal expressions spontaneously displayed when individuals experience pride. They include a low-intensity smile, expanded posture, slight head tilt, and arms to the side with hands on hips or raised above the head with hands in fists (36). Children exhibit recognizable signs of pride by the age of two and a half years and are able to recognize physical expressions of pride in others by age four.

Pride is generally considered to be a positive emotion. It can be thought of as a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in one's actions. Pride is often linked to success and it is achieved through the receipt of social approval and the admiration of others (33). When individuals are rewarded with positive feedback and when they see faces brimming with pride over their accomplishments, they feel pride and understand that they stand well in comparison to others (26). Success enhances self-esteem and feelings of pride. Self-esteem and a sense of pride serve as positive means to find success in society (6,21).

Pride in One's Work and Efforts

Pride is sometimes used to describe the satisfaction achieved through the completion of a task to the best of one's ability. Former Major League Baseball player and Hall of Fame member Don Sutton illustrated the belief that one should take pride in doing one's job and in doing it well (22):

   I grew up in rural Clio, Alabama and in rural northwest Florida
   where your work ethic was what you took pride in, whether you might
   have been a farmer or a carpenter or whatever. You showed up on
   time, you did your job, and you went home. (5)

Sutton believed it was his responsibility to prepare himself for games to the best of his ability each day and that by doing so; he could feel a sense of accomplishment and pride.

National Football League quarterback and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Drew Brees explained why he believed some athletes are superior to others. …

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