Unhealthy anger is an overreaction to a justified wrong. Learn more about anger issues and fighting bystander intervention.
You and a few teammates are at a party when someone begins insulting you (for being athletes, for a team’s performance, etc.). Despite everyone’s best effort to ignore these obnoxious comments, you can see one of your teammates is becoming more and more irritated. He has a history of losing his temper. What do you do?
- Can anger be a good thing (functional anger)? If so, when?
- Have you been at a party where a fight broke out? What happened? What did you do? Were you a bystander or intervener – why? Would you do anything differently now?
- Do you think there are people who look for fights? Why?
- Do you think people sometimes target student-athletes? Why?
- Is anger an athletic community issue? How so?
- What are some possible triggers?
- Are there unwritten codes of conduct acceptable in certain subcultures that may not be permissible in the general population? Explain/Describe.
- If you use anger to “pump yourself up” as a student-athlete, is it hard to turn it off when you are away from your sport? Why or why not?
In the athletic world, it is sometimes more acceptable to express anger and not other emotions. Therefore, many people will act angry when they are really feeling something else that they are uncomfortable expressing, such as:
Anger is a normal emotion that becomes a problem when it:
- Is too intense
- Lasts too long
- Occurs too frequently
- Escalates – Overreacting to a justified wrong or carries over on field/off field
- Focuses and blames only “others” – world, situation, anything except self
- Is harmful to self or others
- Leads to aggression or violence
- Destroys personal relationships
Some common causes of anger are:
- Being too ego-driven or invested – Taking it TOO personally
- Getting sucked in – No longer looking for ways out (exits) or solutions
People who fight often:
- Misinterpret the intent or motives of others
- Are unable to see alternative rationales
- Are openly and frequently defiant of requests
- Vocalize anger: furious temper, uncontrollable fits of rage
- Demean or swear directly to parent or others in authority positions
- Make threats; are aggressive
- Seem to have “emotional diarrhea,” and “lets it all out, all the time”
- Have difficulty accepting “No” for an answer
- Do not follow rules; often feels rules are “stupid,” or don’t apply
- Destroy property
- Are physically cruel to animals
- Are physical cruel to people
- Initiate fights with others
- Seriously violate rules (at home, in school, or society in general)
- Create plans together to avoid high-risk situations and consequences
- Be aware of triggers
- Be aware of defined danger: mad dogging, dirty looks, individuals looking for a fight
- Do not try to detain angry individuals – even if they run away
- Interrupt the situation/Distract the people involved
- Beware of increasing aggressive behavior and try to diffuse the situation
What bystanders should remind the individuals involved:
- STOP AND THINK – Is it worth it in the long run?
- REMOVE THE DRAMA
- REMOVE THE EGO
- Avoid Retaliation/Escalation
- Agree with rationale but challenge the action
- Focus on solving the problem NOT winning the “fight”
- Don’t get caught up in the moment and don’t let others bring them down. Think of the big picture.
- Try to see it from a different point of view – feeling anger and empathy at the same time are incompatible responses
What bystanders should do for themselves:
- WALK AWAY if the situation is unsafe.
- Stay calm, cool and collected.
- Contact 911 or campus security (6666) if necessary.
- Controlling Anger Before It Controls You (American Psychological Association)
- Campus Counseling Center
- Anger Management Classes
- Resident Assistant if in the dorms
- Housing & Residential Life
Coach, Assistant Coach, Athletic Directors, Administrators, Advisors, and/or Athletic Trainers
- Albert Ellis Institute Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy