Beausay's results are presented as group averages. These may be very inaccurate for any given individual. There should be some indication that linebackers vary in their levels of hostility. Also, the instruments used are by no means perfect measures. There are no measures of personality characteristics that could truly be called adequate, and there would certainly be disagreement among qualified psychologists as to what Beausay's tests actually measure. They are coarse indicators at best.
Finally, and most important from a practical point of view, Beausay took his measures just before his athletes were going into combat. Results of this kind say nothing about what athletes are like in their normal lives, only that they differ from the average man in the street when they are primed for competition. I wonder whether linebackers are any more hostile before a game than are those avid fans who are sitting in a traffic jam outside the stadium as the game starts. Perhaps the proper conclusion to be drawn from Beausay's findings is that professional-class athletes have learned to alter their psychological states to fit the situation.
ROBERT M. THORNDIKE
Having devoted considerable energy to generating support for the notion that a knowledge of personality characteristics can markedly increase our capacity to predict performances, I applaud Professor Beausay's efforts to define the critical components of personality that contribute to athletic achievement. A check of NFL and NHL game statistics will show that teams taking the most penalties (presumably manifestations of hostility and aggression) consistently sport superior won-lost records.
It should be emphasized that Dr. Beausay's Super Psyching (and here he would, I think, agree) is based on the manipulation of dynamic traits—motivations and interests—rather than descriptive temperament traits as measured by questionnaires such as the Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis. Which simply shows that coaches are probably correct when they "...ascribe victory and defeat to whether or not a team was 'up' for a particular game," and reaffirms my conviction that in the final analysis what we supposed experts in psychology are practicing is little more than common sense.
NICHOLAS F. SKINNER, PH.D.
Department of Psychology
In your article Professor Beausay uses Dave Wottle as an example by which he stereotypes all distance runners. The professor should do a little more research on runners. Some people here can tell him that our hometown boy who made good ( Frank Shorter) certainly was not timid, nonaggressive or a follower when he won the marathon in Munich. Good article otherwise.
Love it, love it, love it! I'm sure Dr. Beausay knows what he's talking about when he describes quarterbacks as extreme perfectionists, a pretty cool bunch, lighthearted, free of themselves, compassionate, self-disciplined and above all, the prize catch for the little ladies.
If you haven't guessed, I am an ex-quarterback.