Sports are a multi-billion dollar industry comprised of athletes, coaches, trainers and business men and women. These people, athletes more often than the rest, are role models for society. They live in the spotlight whether they like it or not and receive a variety of criticisms, especially when they make mistakes in either their professional or personal life. Mistakes punctuate the sports pages – some seemingly more forgivable than others.

How can forgiveness be better utilized in the sports?

SCI Advisory Board member, James E. McGuire, Esq. recently wrote about how the act of forgiveness can be effective in mediation, but it must start with an apology from the one that made the mistake.

“Apology is an important part of the mediation process in helping parties deal with conflict and resolve disputes,” wrote McGuire.

He notes that forgiveness is not meant to forget what happened and it doesn’t always lead to reconciliation. McGuire presents the question, then why forgive anyone for anything? His own response is simple but impactful. “To be happy,” McGuire said.

Due to the spotlight that many athletes are engulfed in when they do make a mistake media, fans and hecklers add additional pressure. Mistakes made can lead to additional stress for athletes and can take a toll on individual athletic performance as well as team performance.

The act of forgiving refers to acknowledging what happened and understanding where wrongs were committed. Then one can reflect and eventually learn from those mistakes in order self improvement. It can be beneficial for athletes because forgiveness can relieve stress and provide much needed support.

Asking for forgiveness, allowing others to forgive us and most importantly forgiving ourselves is vital in the process to achieve success. So how can forgiveness be beneficial for athletes like Josh Hamilton, Ray Rice and Richie Incognito?

Mayo Clinic On Forgiveness

According to research at the Mayo Clinic, letting go of grudges and forgiving can make way for happiness, health and peace. Forgiveness can lead to:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Higher self-esteem

Not only can athletes benefit from forgiving others’ mistakes and their own mistakes, but fans can also reap the benefits. Fans have the power to forgive and allow athletes a second, just as many of them have been given second chances in their respective professional or personal lives.