This is a sample of a full article written for MATTER Magazine (PEA). This section is written by Natalie Jebraili based on an interview conducted with Dr. Smeir.

It is evident that feedback has powerful effects on the growth of the mind, but what about one’s psychology specifically? In simple terms, psychology is the study of the mind and behavior, exploring how individuals think, react, and feel both consciously and subconsciously. One’s psyche can be impacted by both positive and negative events. Individuals are able to store memories of these events, potentially influencing their behavior in the future. These influential events can be very simplethe most simple of things, but have an outstanding effect. For example, sports and other extracurricular general activitiesy are known to have substantial mental and physical effects, and they are sometimes prescribed to people who faced trauma in their past. 

While it is true that athletics are mentally taxing and can often become very toxic, this usually stems from external factors, such as the. For example, pressure on an individual to perform rather than the celebration of effort, accomplishment, and development. This can be self- placed pressure, or it can come from parents, coaches, or teammates. Regardless, this harmharmfulness  originates from external aspects unrelated to the actions of directly playing a sport. An interview with M.D. Stephanie Mumford Smeir explores the relationship between sports and psychology, emphasizing their ability to positively transform the psyche of traumatized children. 

First of all, Smeir wanted to highlight the fact that psychology varies for everyone and “like an onion, it has many, many layers” (Smeir, personal communication, July 3, 2023). She then spoke about the almost universal effects of sports and activity on anyone’s life. For example, exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which are hormones released to reduce stress or pain. Once they attach to receptors in your brain, dopamine is released which provides feelings of happiness and pleasure. Sports also provide a space for people who enjoy a similar activity to come together. In these situations, leadership and collaboration skills formgrow. At the end of the day, havingit is also simply fun to have a game to play because it can take your mind off of other problems. This is one reason why it is so important to keep athletics as enjoyable as possible. 

When speaking with Smeir, an organization called Cleats for Kids was brought up. This group collects soccer supplies to send to some schools in Jacmel, Haiti. These children that attend these schools live in a politically, economically, and socially tense environment. The mission statement of this organization is to send supplies so that these children are given a bit of time to just be kids and enjoy their childhood by playing sports. Smeir confirmed that therapeutic interventions such as playing sports have been recommended by psychologists to children who have lived through scarring events. Along with the positive effects listed above, Smeir also stated that “sports relieve trauma and improve mental health by improving coping skills and providing a support system to deal with stress” (Smeir, personal communication, July 3, 2023).  Overall, this interview with Smeir clarified the ability for healing, mental health improvement, and stress reduction by playing sports, especially for those who have faced trauma.  One’s environment and the feedback they received through that environment has an immense impact on their behavior, decision making, and overall psyche. Studies show that positive feedback based on effort rather than performance produced children who were less likely to burn out and struggle when things did not go perfectly. Athletics can be used to alter the effects on a child’s psychology. Psychologists encourage athletics because the physical and mental aspects of playing sports can heal and improve mental health in children.