During the past ten years there has been a dramatic increase in interest and participation in sports at the collegiate, as well as professional and leisure levels. The 1970s and 1980s have brought increased commercialization of sports. Despite the involvement of sanctioning bodies, countless student-athletes are suffering from exploitation, personal excesses, and abuse including drugs and alcohol, as well as exhibiting various psychosocial problems. Approximately ten percent of American college athletes suffer from problems appropriate for counseling. At the collegiate level, many sports programs have become expensive preparatory programs for professional teams. Rarely a day passes without a news report of a student-athlete in some type of psychosocio-behavioral difficulty directly or indirectly associated with sports performance. Student-athletes are subject to emotional difficulties as a function of sports participation. Anxiety resulting from the threat of evaluation by others, lack of self-confidence, and unreasonable expectations from coaches and fans are but a few of the problems experienced by student-athletes. Educational, developmental, and remedial programs are needed for student-athletes. Such programs are not available to all who need them, and programs which include any form of counseling are especially limited.
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Referral to sports counselors is becoming more common, resulting in a demand for counseling professionals sensitive to interventions for student athletes. Since sports psychologists focus on performance and coaches typically have physical education training, neither are qualified or prepared to work with individuals psychoemotional difficulties. Counseling professionals are needed to address the psychoemotional needs of the student-athletes.
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