Professional Sports Need Anger Management for Players and Managers

Posted on: June 16, 2007

Professional Sports Need Anger Management for Players and Managers


Frequent incidents of violence in organized sports tend to mirror the occurrences of violence in our society in general. It is clear that the NFL, NBA, Major and Minor League Baseball, National Hockey League and all other professional sports associations are committed to provide assistance to athletes who exhibit problems in managing anger. In almost every incident of public displays of inappropriate aggression by professional athletes, action has been taken by the team and/or the league manager.


Unfortunately, there is a natural societal tendency to assume that Doctors (MDs, PhDs) can provide the answer to any behavior with is considered unacceptable. In the case of the Sacramento Kings’ Ron Attest, he was referred to a Psychiatrist for “anger management”. After an examination by a doctor, he is reported to have been given a prescription for antidepressant medication which he promptly refused. It was later reported that he had received anger management treatment which did not work. Since anger is neither a mental illness nor emotional problem, doctors are not trained to assess or offer help to persons with problems managing anger. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association has publicly disclosed that anger is not a pathological condition and is therefore not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Nervous or Mental Disorders.Therefore, it is highly unlikely that this physician was any more knowledgeable about anger management than the lay public.


According to the American Association of Anger Management Providers, anger is a normal human emotion. Anger is a problem when it is too intense, last too long, occurs too frequently, is harmful to self of others or leads to aggression. It seems clear that Ron Attest does exhibit problems managing anger. However, the most appropriate referral would have been to a professionally trained Anger Management Provider. Certified Anger Management Providers are trained to administer an assessment at intake which determines the participants’ level of functioning in four areas, how one manages anger, stress, communication and emotional intelligence. A fifth category is motivation to change. Following such assessment, the client is given a workbook and attends classes designed to teach skills in the areas mentioned above. At the end of this training which can be provided on an individual or group basis, a post test is given to determine the success of the training.

Anger management is a new area of specialization which is not well known by the general public. For more information about anger management, please visit the website of the American Association of Anger Management Providers at, and .


George Anderson, MSW, BCD, CAMF
Diplomate, American Association of Anger Management Providers


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