The 5 Stages of Athlete Grief

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Stage 1: Denial

Description: The athlete denies he actually lost as a temporary defense.

Youth Athlete in Denial: "No way I lost. My mom said I'm the best player ever!"

College Athlete in Denial: "No way I lost. The coach who recruited me said I'm the best player ever!"

Pro Athlete in Denial: "No way I lost. My agent said I'm the best player ever!"

Stage 2: Anger

Description: The athlete experiences rage and jealousy over the outcome and lashes out.

Youth Athlete in Anger: "I'm going to quit!"

College Athlete in Anger: "I'm going to transfer!"

Pro Athlete in Anger: "I'm going to lose my endorsements!"

Stage 3: Bargaining

Description: The athlete makes an attempt to somehow change or delay the outcome.

Youth Athlete in Bargaining: "Please, God, I'll clean my room every day if you stop this from happening."

College Athlete in Bargaining: "Please, God, I won't smoke weed every day if you stop this from happening."

Pro Athlete in Bargaining: "Please, God, I'll give 10-percent to the church if you stop this from happening. Okay, maybe not 10-percent. That's millions of dollars. But 10-percent of what a regular person makes. I have it right here in my wallet."

Stage 4: Depression

Description: The athlete understands the finality of the loss and briefly hits an emotional low.

Youth Athlete in Depression: "This is the worst day of my life … wait, what? Transformers 3 is on? Never mind."

College Athlete in Depression: "This is the worst day of my life … wait, what? That skank from the party is texting me? Never mind."

Pro Athlete in Depression: "This is the worst day of my life … wait, what? I'm a free agent now? Never mind."

Stage 5: Acceptance

Description: The athlete comes to terms with defeat and moves on.

Youth Athlete in Acceptance: "I'm a kid. I have my whole life ahead of me."

College Athlete in Acceptance: "I'm in college. I have my whole career ahead of me."

Pro Athlete in Acceptance: "I'm on the Red Sox. I have to learn to expect this."

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