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Homosexuality in professional sports

My diploma thesis “Influence on physical & mental performance with suppressed homosexuality.

Homosexuality continues to be the subject of great prejudice in our society. For instance, certain sports are classified as masculine, others feminine. There is also the fact that society considers homosexual men to generally be associated with feminine attributes and homosexual women with masculine attributes. As a competitive sportsperson, it is even more difficult to free oneself from these defined societal standards and patterns. If they do manage to free themselves in this way, it generally only happens after the person’s active career has ended.

“If our fundamental confidence is impaired, this absolutely inhibits performance – a competitive sportsperson can never give 100% performance, as hiding an essential part of their personality requires a huge amount of energy.” (Thomas Spielmann)

The objective of my diploma thesis was to answer the following questions:

  1. How great is the influence of suppressed homosexuality on mental and physical performance?

  2. Can an athlete actually exploit their full potential in this case?

  3. How, specifically, can we support athletes with this through coaching and mental training?

It was specifically shown in numerous studies that great problems occur in the form of “microaggressions”, discrimination and verbal or physical transgressions, even in the youth, mass sport and amateur sectors. And yet sport plays a particularly important role in our society. The overwhelming majority of the Swiss population, for instance, confirms that sport is a sensible and fundamental activity and plays an important role in the raising and socialization of children and adolescents. The integration function of sport makes a valuable contribution towards societal cohesion and the teaching of values.

My interview partners, who were available to me for my diploma thesis, also confirmed that they have already experienced the same forms of discrimination. This significantly limited their performance. Marco Lehmann (professional basketball player) reports, among other things, of sweating, meltdowns and panic attacks before training. He had to choose between sport and himself. However, as he did not want to give up either of those things, he decided to come out.

“I can’t continue doing sport if I can’t be myself” (Marco Lehmann)

Particularly in youth sport between the ages of 14-18 years, it is extremely important that the athletes develop solid fundamental self-confidence. It’s about athletes feeling comfortable and having a sense of belonging. It’s about creating an environment that supports the personality of every individual, not only as sportspeople but as a whole, as human beings! Otherwise, many people fail to fully exploit their possibilities and potential. This means that many great talents are lost to sport and to our world.

Anyone who is unable to stand by their own needs, their own, personal identity is faced with enormous pressure and a huge amount of constant stress at various levels. Additionally, the pressure at school and the pressure to provide their best performance in sport. This can quickly lead to a mental overload, mental blockades/problems, injuries, loss of performance, anxiety disorders, failure, or, in the worst case, depression or burn-out. The Pro Juventute Stress-Study (2021) shows clearly that 45% of young people at a age of 14 report feeling under pressure and stress to a very high extend. Also, insurance companies report an increase of burnout and burnout syndromes in 2021 by 120%, compared to 2007.

Of course, mental training does not allow us to magically solve all of these problems overnight. However, targeted mental training, coaching and personality development can be used to help our young talents handle these situations “better”, for instance by:

  • Developing a robust overall identity – identity balance

  • Developing strong fundamental confidence and self-confidence

  • Eliminating negative beliefs

  • Relaxation training – reducing tension (mental & physical)

Get in touch with me and deliberately invest in yourself now, as... change begins in the mind!

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