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Dont Get Burned




Burnout.  It happens to everyone, everywhere, everyday.  Athletes -young, old, professional, amateur, male and female- all experience burnout in different forms and degrees.  Burnout is defined as the physical, emotional, and psychological reaction to intense pressure to fulfill obligations, whether they be sports or otherwise.  Simply put, people get tired and worn out because they often take on the responsibility of doing too much.  Burnout is most common among professional and Olympic athletes that train hard and work hard for long periods of time.  However, others can also experience burnout in athletics.  Burnout leads to reduced interest in the sport, quality of performance, and then withdrawal.
Burnout is often associated with overtraining, overreaching, and staleness.  Overtraining is the point where training is no longer beneficial but harmful.  Overreaching is similar to overtraining however the length of time makes the difference.  Overreaching for long periods of time leads to overtraining.  Staleness is the effect of reaching a performance plateau.  Together with overtraining, staleness eventually leads to athlete burnout.  In sports psychology, several models exist to help explain, prevent, and treat burnout in athletes.  
Stress models of burnout point to stress as the key factor in burnout.  Silvas training stress model is based on the notion that some training stress is necessary to improve.. These improvements are based on positive adaptation to training stress or negative adaptation to training stress. Smiths Cognitive-Affective model of burnout has for stages that lead to burnout.  Investment model of burnout insists that if an athlete participates in sports based on enjoyment, burnout is less likely to occur.  On the other hand, if an athlete is trapped into participation this will lead to burnout.  Empowerment model of burnout suggests that stress is not the cause but merely a symptom of burnout.  This theory in particular deals mainly with youths in sports.
Burnout normally occurs slowly, over a long period of time.  It may express itself physically or mentally.  Physical symptoms may include feelings of intense fatigue, changes in heart rate, weight, blood pressure, vulnerability to viral infection, and then immune breakdown.  Mental burnout may manifest itself with feelings of lack of control over commitments, belief that you are accomplishing less, tendency to think negatively, loss of a sense of purpose and increasing detachment to situations that cause stress.  In some cases, burnout can lead to a decreased self-esteem.
Keeping the sport and activities fun can help prevent burnout from setting in.  If athletes are in danger of burning out they can re-evaluate their goals and prioritize them, reduce unnecessary commitments, learn stress management techniques, following a healthy lifestyle, and developing a support network among friends and family.  Interventions can sometimes provide a solution.  Self-awareness is the first step.  Time off from the activity followed by initiation of relaxation techniques round out the recommended intervention process.
Some athletes can move past the burned out stage and continue participating in their sport.  Others however, are unable to once again have fun engaging in that sport again.    Younger children are increasing vulnerable to burnout.  Gymnasts, ice skaters, and other Olympic caliber athletes are pushed at such an early age and so hard that once they can make their own decisions, they reject the sport.  Some also accomplish such large goals so young that they reach a performance plateau early.  Parents also push their children to play sports even when they do not wish to play.  This can also lead to burnout of young children.  
Deciding the level of commitment in a desired sport is one of the most important decisions to be made regarding prevention and treatment of burnout.  Athletics should be fun, enjoyable and help relieve stress.  Once it begins to cause unhealthy levels of stress burnout might follow.  Sport can be a lifetime activity that can enhance life, but in the wrong context sport can be life altering and debilitating.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family that supported me regardless of whether or not I participated in sports.  My parents encouraged me to participate only if and when I wanted to.  Sports were never mandatory and my parents did not push me.  They did not live vicariously through my sports participation.  I think ... more

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Affirmative Action

Affirmative action works. There are thousands of examples of situations where
people of color, white women, and working class women and men of all races who
were previously excluded from jobs or educational opportunities, or were denied
opportunities once admitted, have gained access through affirmative action. When
these policies received executive branch and judicial support, vast numbers of
people of color, white women and men have gained access they would not otherwise
have had. These gains have led to very real changes. Affirmative action programs
have not eliminated racism, nor have they always been implemented without
problems. However, there would be no struggle to roll back the gains achieved if
affirmative action policies were ineffective. The implementation of affirmative
action was America's first honest attempt at solving a problem, it had
previously chosen to ignore. In a variety of areas, from the quality of health
care to the rate of employment, blacks still remain far behind whites. Their
representation in the more prestigious professions is still almost
insignificant. Comparable imbalances exist for other racial and ethnic
minorities as well as for women. Yet, to truly understand the importance of
affirmative action, one must look at America's past discrimination to see why,
at this point in history, we must become more "color conscious".
History Of Discrimination In America: Events Leading To Affirmative Action. The
Declaration of Independence asserts that "all men are created equal."
Yet America is scarred by a long history of legally imposed inequality. Snatched
from their native land, transported thousands of miles-in a nightmare of disease
and death-and sold into slavery, blacks in America were reduced to the legal
status of farm animals. A Supreme Court opinion, Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857),
made this official by classifying slaves as a species of "private
property." Even after slavery was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment in
1865, American blacks, other minorities, and women continued to be deprived of
some of the most elementary right of citizenship. During the Reconstruction,
after the end of the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment was passed in 1868,
making blacks citizens and promised them the "equal protection of the
laws." In 1870 the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, which gave blacks the
right to vote. Congress also passed a number of civil rights laws barring
discrimination against blacks in hotels, theaters, and other places. However,
the South reacted by passing the "Black Codes, " which severely
limited the rights of the newly freed slaves, preventing them in most states
from testifying in courts against whites, limiting their opportunities to find
work, and generally assigning them to the status of second or third class
citizen. White vigilante groups like the Klu Klux Klan began to appear, by
murdering and terrorizing blacks who tried to exercise their new rights.
"Legal" ways were also found for circumventing the new laws; these
included "grandfather clauses", poll taxes, white only primary
elections, and constant social discrimination against and intimidation of
blacks, who were excluded form education and from any job except the most
menial. In 1883, the Supreme Court declared a key civil rights statute, one that
prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, unconstitutional. And in
1896, Plessy v. Ferguson (163 U.S. 537 [1896]), the Court declared that the
state of Louisiana had the right to segregate their races in every public
facility. Thus began the heyday of "Jim Crow" legislation. In Justice
John Marshall Harlan's lone dissent, he realized it was a mockery. He wrote,
" We boast of the freedom enjoyed by our peoples above all other peoples.
But it is difficult to reconcile that boast with a state of the law which,
practically, puts a brand of servitude and degregation upon a large class of our
fellow citizens, our equals before the law. This thin disguise of 'equal'
accommodations for passengers in railroad coaches will not mislead anyone, or
atone for the wrong this day done." Not until sixty years later, in Brown
v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (347 U.S. 483 [1954]), was Plessy
overturned. Chief Justice earl Warren declared the unanimous opinion of the
court by saying: "We cannot turn the clock back to 1868, when the Amendment
was adopted, or even to 1896, when Plessy v. Ferguson was written." In
today's world, "separate educational facilities are inherently
unequal." This decision sparked racial tensions all across America. in
1957, President Eisenhower had to call federal troops into Little Rock,
Arkansas, after the state's governor forcibly barred black children from
entering white schools. In 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested and fined, for not
moving to the back of a public bus, ... more

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