The Power of Crying In Sports

Two weeks after my daughter was born I found myself a blubbering mess. I was watching the Star Trek movie (the 2009 reboot). The opening scene has James Kirk's father sacrificing himself so that his wife (who is in labor) and crew can escape certain death. He lives to hear the first sounds of his son but never sees him.


In that moment I was heartbroken for a movie character. However silly it might have been, the catharsis was real. Like most men, especially athletes and coaches, crying was not something I did often. It was much later that I realized how weak that made me. 

A League of Our Own

Sports suffers from a hyper masculinity complex. To reference another movie, Tom Hanks said "there's no crying in baseball", but he was absolutely wrong. There should be plenty of crying in baseball.


Think about what crying actually is: a raw display of emotion. Sometimes we cry when we are sad, or feeling great joy or love. But crying is just a physical display of the emotions we are feeling. 

We cannot control our emotions, but we can control our reaction to emotions. So many of us, especially men in sports, have learned that despite the sadness, joy or love we might feel in a moment it is bad and weak for us to wear that emotion so visibly.

Worse yet, as coaches we can often struggle to deal with athletes who cry when they are in a heightened emotional state. I have often heard coaches mutter about athletes crying, especially around big competitions. 

The truth is, at least athletes who can release their emotions in this way are in touch with how they are feeling. Yes, crying can cross over and be "too much", but I find more often than not, it is over-suppressed in sports. 

Coaches should be working on emotional skills with their athletes rather than shunning tears. That means bringing some of our less in touch athletes out of their shell. It also means that we need to build a runway for emotional athletes to land their plane safely.

Sports should not be an arena for emotional suppression, rather it should be a healthy place where we learn to harness powerful emotions for the good of ourselves and those around us.

Want to learn more about getting athletes out of their shell or safely landing the plane? Write me.