Archive for May, 2009

Derrick Rose~Coaches~NBA Lack of Culpability–Why we need ISPA

Friday, May 29th, 2009

The announcement today that Derrick Rose’s grades were changed while at Simeon High School (Chicago) is precisely why we need coaches, administrators, and professionals in sports to be credentialed in what they are providing to sports and athletes. This revelation and its wide-ranging ramifications added to the baseball steriod scandal, the NFL discipline problems, and on and on in sports, screams out for sports to have more accountability to values and integrity. 

Let’s not just finger point, but what are solutions to this chaos that sports finds itself in? 


1- Credential coaches who teach young people. The International Association of Sports Professionals (ISPA) has a coaches division. Coaches must adhere to principles or lose their accreditation. Schools, institutions, teams then hire coaches who are credentialed. This is not foolproof, but at least there is a standard to apply. Right now the field of coaching youth is totally unregulated. 

2- David Stern and the NBA, the NCAA, and the Chicago Public High Schools should apply some meaningful and powerful consequences on this behavior. 

3- There should be an investigation done from the Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan, on the recruiting of high school athletes. Legislation should be passed to stop these abuses dead in their tracks. Arnie Duncan is a former college athlete himself and he should be concerned about this travesty in sports.

4- The coaches involved in these scandals need stronger consequences for this behavior.

5- The player needs stronger consequences when these violations are revealed.

Dr. John Mayer


the International Sports Professionals Association-ISPA

312-917-1240-direct phone-Dr. Mayer

ISPA Members in the Media

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

More ISPA Members featured in the Media

Kurt David an ISPA member has become the host of a new cable television show called, ‘From Glory Days’  based on the theme of his excellent book of the same name. To see how you can tune into his show go to Kurt’s web site, and check out the TV show and his book signings. His book is an excellent resource on athletes and what happens after their playing days. Extremely useful for all those working in the field of sports.

Dr. John Mayer was featured in two episodes of the cable television series, Escaped! on the Discovery Investigative Channel. Episode # 3 in the series, titled Torture in Suburbia aired on April 28, 2009 and Episode #6, titled Lost at Sea aired May 18, 2009. Check your local listings for replays of these shows.

Sports Booze Celebrations as Dangerous as Steroids

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009


The Largest Accreditation Body Credentialing Sports Professionals in all Fields

News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:     Dr. John Mayer, President

The International Association of Sports Professionals


TV Images of Champagne Celebrations in Sports as Harmful as the Steroid Scandal


Chicago, IL—May 19, 2009—Television cameras seem to love to show the images of professional athletes bathing themselves in champagne as they win a championship or clinch a play-off berth. This broadcasting ritual is not only silly; it is a dangerous model for young people.

“Kids learn by modeling. When they see their heroes using a drug (alcohol) to celebrate their elation, it does more to propagate the problems we have with kids and drugs than the steroid scandals. These broadcast images are seen by millions of young people. They can see the athletes basking in the glow of the booze enhanced frenzy. (more…)

Medications and Obesity

Monday, May 18th, 2009

American Academy of Pediatrics Decision to Medicate Obese Children Sends a Dangerous Message


Chicago, IL—April 20, 2009—  John E. Mayer, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and leading researcher, lecturer and writer on family issues and family health, challenges the decision that pediatricians medicate children as young as 8 years old with cholesterol medication to prevent later heart disease.

Dr. Mayer, who is also the President of the International Sports Professionals Association (ISPA)feels that this decision will set back efforts to change the lifestyle of families and young people.

“It sends the wrong message on establishing a healthy lifestyle. The vast majority of obesity problems in young people can be corrected with changes in diet and exercise. Pediatricians should write prescriptions for better diets and circumscribed amounts of exercise every week, rather than picking up the prescription pad so quickly for a drug. Further, these drugs have only been around since the mid-1980’s, we are not sure what long-term effect they will have on kids taking them at such an early age. When we have good alternatives (Lifestyle changes) why turn to drugs with such a knee-jerk reaction, we need to look at the long-term ramifications. Remember how benign we thought cocaine was when it hit the scene? Speaking of drug abuse, advocating a medication mind-set just keeps kids growing up in a society where pills are the wonderful cure-all for all our problems.”

Dr. Mayer’s soon to be released book, Family Fit, provides parents with formulas they can follow in leading a healthy lifestyle. This book will be published by ISPA/NP2-Publications, a division of ISPA.

Bullying and Teasing in Sports

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Sports and Bullying/Teasing

Dr. John E. Mayer

President-the International Sports Professionals Association-ISPA

In my career as a Clinical Psychologist I have established a national reputation for expertise in the problems of the adolescent years. One of the issues that I am frequently called on to help with is teasing and bullying among young people.

The last decade has seen more and more research being reported on the specific problem of bullying and teasing. It is encouraging to see so much attention in this traditionally neglected area of aggressive social behavior.

The findings are disturbing. One of the most recent studies and one of the few longitudinal studies of this problem highlights an alarming number of adolescents who bully. (58.4%) This study appeared in the journal, Child Development,79, 325-338.

The US Secret Service reported in 2002 that 2/3 of all perpetrators of youth violent crimes were teased or bullied prior to the event. The National Threat Assessment Center found that the attackers in more than 66% of the 37 mass school shootings were persecuted or bullied by others and that revenge was the overriding motive of these school shootings.

In my own clinical work, as I am called into cases around the country that involve youth violence, I can say anecdotally that the vast majority, if not all, of these cases involve teasing and bullying either on the perpetrator’s side or on the victims’ side of the case.

Further, studies are showing that bullies are very likely to develop psychiatric and psychological problems in early adulthood. (Pediatrics, August, 2007) And the victims of bullying display a greater risk for psychosocial maladjustment as well as somatic complaints (e.g. Headaches, sleep problems, stomachaches) than other young people. (see: Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 34, 37-48. 2005.)

Bullying and Teasing are serious problems among youth.

The spread of this problem has resulted from decades of neglect on the part of adults who enable this behavior in both direct and indirect ways. In the scope of this article I won’t take the space to explain what the aim of the bully is, but suffice it to summarize that some form of power over another is the most common goal of the bully. Similarly, I will not detail here all the reasons behind why the bully does what they do, but again to succinctly sum it up: Bullying works for the bully. This behavior is repeated because the bully’s aims are accomplished. Sadly, we adults are often to blame for allowing bullying to work well.


Too often a youngster’s inappropriate aggressiveness against other peers is whisked under the carpet with adult epitaphs such as, “He’s going to be a great ball player.” Or “She’s just being one of the boys.” Unsportsmanlike conduct or bullying on the playing fields of sport is regaled as desirable behavior and often cheered. A not uncommon coaching style is to use negativism toward the player as a motivator. This is just another form of bullying in the disguise of an acceptable context, sports achievement. The problem here is that youngsters don’t have the experience or judgments necessary to discern appropriate, aggressive sport participation and inappropriate bullying of a weaker opponent. This is where coaching should mold the athlete, not model inappropriate behavior.

But, athletics and bullying/teasing do have gray areas for coaches, parents and professionals.

Is the Jericho Scott experience bullying? Is he a stronger, more advanced athlete preying on

weaker opponents? Are the batters he throws pitches at with the equivalent of 110 mph

victims? Is he being enabled by a coach who wants to win at all costs? These are questions that

the adults close to this situation must evaluate, control and not ignore.

Athletic and physical prodigies raise important questions for us to answer as professionals who

serve the world of sport. Should they be allowed to participate at the same level as

smaller, weaker peers? These are exactly the questions we should be ready to answer for the

sports world.

What if LeBron James, Lao Ming, Tiger Woods, Andy Riddick, Michael Phelps, Michael Jordan

Sheyl Swoopes, Jennie Finch, Candice Parker, Lance Armstrong, or any of these athletic

phenoms were to become restricted from playing the sports they loved and excelled at? Was their

passionate participation in their sport bullying others of such lesser athletic endowment? These

are evaluations to be made by the adults around them with objectivity and fairness. Professionals

serving sports need to be prepared to advise in these situations.

What about coaches who use abusive/bullying techniques themselves? This modeling is another

prime reason why bullying becomes widespread in youth. This Neanderthal approach is not only

ethically wrong; it is not effective with today’s young athlete. It persists and in some circles,

flourishes. We, ISPA professionals, have an obligation to intervene with these coaches.

Currently, ISPA is mounting a membership drive to increase the numbers of coaches who are

credentialed by ISPA. This is an attempt to make a difference in the standards of coaching.

Please help by encouraging coaches to apply for ISPA credentials. Also, if you have affiliation with a coaches group or association, please help us network with these groups toward ISPA accreditation. We can make a difference.

What Can We Do About Bullying and Teasing?

Speaking of making a difference, what are the best ways we can stop this bullying in our young


When you see it happening, discipline those who bully. Do not allow it to take place under your

supervision. And, don’t model bullying behavior through your actions toward others. Modeling

is a powerful way bullying is spread. This is why we are so eager to get coaches credentialed.

What do you tell a child who is a victim of bullying? All of the research and experience with

kids suggest there are only three effective ways to deal with the bully. 1) Don’t react to it in any

way-not even a grimace or flinch. 2) Ignore the bully’s words and actions. 3) Let the adult in

charge know about what the bully is doing. Only these three methods work effectively and for the

long haul. Age old advice such as, “You go back there and push him harder.” Or “Let’s figure

out something to call them that will hurt their feelings even more.” None of these things work

because they reinforce precisely what the bully wants, that is, to get a reaction out of the victim.

More on Dr. Mayer’s acclaimed work on Bullying and Teasing will appear soon in a booklet he

is preparing for a new parenting web site: Visit that web site for more


Kids Don’t Know How to Play

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Young People Don’t Know How to Play!

Dr. John Mayer


Socrates said, “Play is the work of the child.” One of the dilemmas of today’s young people is that they often don’t know how to play. Yes, that’s right, kids don’t know how to play! And this condition is getting worse as kids are buried into technological devices as their definition of play. So, when they are among other kids, they behave awkward, fumble around and it becomes not fun. So, we witness a revolving door as they retreat back into their technological abyss.

Professionals who work in the field of sports know that today’s youth do not get enough physical activity and physical interaction with other young people. The sad condition that our schools are eliminating PE and Health classes certainly doesn’t help this problem.

A recent article in the New York Times Magazine by Peggy Orenstein titled, Kindergarten Cram. (NYT, May 3, 2009) reminded me of an article I wrote approximately four years ago on youth and play. That article of mine had a similar title to the one I am presenting here. In that article, as I am reporting here, kids just don’t know how to play. Orenstein would attribute this to the fact that they simply don’t get the chance to play like they used to. Her NYT article of May 3rd points out that Kindergarteners spend an average of 19 minutes per day in free play in comparison to 89 minutes learning literacy, 47 minutes in math, and 21 minutes in test preparation skills. Orenstein further points out that all this concern over cramming knowledge into the heads of young people in place of play is actually in vain because most experts and studies show that any advantage gained by this over-emphasis on learning is lost by middle school. She also points out that by not encouraging play valuable social and emotional skills are lost so much so that by age 15 academic achievement plummets and youth are more likely to exhibit emotional problems. She cites that authorities such as Daniel Pink have proposed that the viability of the United States in the global economy rests on the accentuation of qualities such as versatility, imagination, creativity, vision and playfulness.

But, I am probably preaching to the choir here. As fellow professionals serving sports, we all agree that kids need more activity and need to be engaged through sports participation in moving their bodies. So, let’s take a look at how this impacts us as sports professionals and think about ways to change this negative equation.

What implication does this have for us?

The areas we most see the effects of this play deficit are:

Team participation– youth have a harder time being a team player

Motivation– it is harder than ever to motivate young people

Competition– young people do not know how to handle competition

Sportsmanship– young people lack the social skills of being sportsmanlike when participating

Coachability– so much of this results in young athletes that are harder and harder to coach

Quitting– for the young person, all this translates into a youth who will not stay with athletics or become easily distracted by other diversions in life and not stay with their sport

How This Can Change:

Leadership- Adults, and certainly all of us, need to demonstrate strong leadership. Let’s get young people active and out into the playing fields, the courts and gyms…..and let’s not accept NO for an answer. Physical activity should be a part of every family’s lifestyle. But, we adults must make it such.

There is nothing wrong with insisting that young people get away from the electronics and be active with other family members. They may grunt and groan at first, but a strong leader can make the unpopular decision for the good of the family. This is true leadership.

Modeling- Not complicated to explain, we adults need to be more physically active and lead our youth into a new lifestyle. Show them the joy of moving around and playing.

Teaching– When you see negative behaviors during play, call it out to the young person and show them a better way immediately. Everyone, coaches, mom’s and dad’s, professionals helping teams/schools, should call out poor social skills when you see it and use it as a learning moment. Encourage moms and dad’s to stay and watch practices, not jut drop kids off and speed away. Then parents can given feedback to young people after the practice or game. But, don’t be the negative, mean-spirited, “Vince Lombardi” coach or parent. That type of adult style just doesn’t work with today’s youth. In fact, it will turn them off to sports and physical activity altogether. They will retreat back into the hibernation of electronics land.

Lobbying- Let’s get more physical activity back into our schools.

Research- Let’s build a strong case to prove the value of play and sports. Peggy Orenstein’s article mentioned an organization called the Alliance for Childhood. Use ISPA, with our publishing division and CEU program to educate on the value of play and sports. Send us your research and ideas for publication, from newsletter articles to CEU courses to books.

So, I end by going back to Socrates. He would say that young people are not doing their jobs. (Playing) Now, let’s do our job and get young people more active.

Darrell Burnett on The Radio!

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Attention ISPA members:

Member Dr. Darrell Burnett will be on the radio this afternoon on Newstalk ZB in Auckland, NZ. Visit their website to listen live: Check often as the exact time has not been set.