Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Psychologists dig into sports movies

Just learned about The Sport Psychology Movie Database, a site that focuses on movies with sports psychological themes. The purpose, according to the site, is to "provide a resource for sport psychologists to find movies to enhance their teaching and their consulting.” So far, the movies are indexed alphabetically by sport and psychological theme. Under ‘aggression,’ for example, you can find Braveheart, ‘social factors’ yields Brian’s Song, and ‘anxiety’ lists Caddyshack, among others. More than 20 themes are cited (and most movies include more than one theme.)

The movies are not all true sports movies, as you can tell from the listing of not only Braveheart (warriors), but of Ordinary People (life & death), Good Will Hunting (math) and Dead Poets Society (teaching, acting). And the themes are not always sports-oriented either. Ordinary People lists ‘parents and families’ as a theme, which makes sense for films such as Hoop Dreams, Rocky and The Natural. The Simpsons: Lisa on Ice, though, is an interesting entry.

This list was compiled after discussions among members of the SPORTPsy discussion group, a member-only list-serv housed out of Temple University. More than 150 movies are listed so far. (And they are all linked to the Internet Movie Database.)

The site’s creator understands that themes are not objective. “You may disagree with the themes listed for any movie,” he writes on the site, “as one viewer may see things in a movie that another does not. As the SPMD develops, these themes may change. These themes are far from exhaustive and are highly subjective.”

At this point, the site is really a list, a place where one might be able to develop topics for research. Perhaps, with time, this site will develop into a place that also includes research on these themes and on sports-related issues. You might want to bookmark the site for future reference.

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