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Six lies Athletes like to tell

The most important rule in Sport Management is that “it is all about the athletes!”. Every single thing that you do in your sport organization should benefit your athletes, whether it is immediate or in the long run.

Some people, especially coaches, want their athletes to be like robots. Athletes should follow the training exactly as it was planned. They should eat as specified by the nutritionist, without of course consumption of alcohol, snacks or even (the beloved) junk food. Athletes should be nowhere in the neighborhood of parties, they should not have sex close to the competition. And where it concerns fans, athletes should always be motivated to take pictures with everybody, at any place at any time.

REALITY CHECK…….Athletes are no robots!

I am sure that 99% of the athletes do NOT like to train, and prefer to skip here and there some exercises. They LOVE to eat junk food, especially when they are travelling and their plane/train/bus has a delay. And not to speak about parties: During competitions, there are always athletes looking for the party, dragging the others with them.
With regards to popular athletes, many of them have the name of being arrogant, not taking the time for their fans….but I don’t blame them. It is no fun, if you want to do some shopping, and by the entrance of the shop there are 30 people who each want to take 2 pictures with you….day in day out!

So this makes the communication and management of athletes very interesting. Especially when you deal with kids or teenagers. Each phase of their lives has influence on their attitude, their state of mind and their actions. Being a talent on the rise makes it even more complex as there is always a chance that people want to be part of the athlete’s career, and will try to influence the athlete to their benefit. It is not the question IF this will happen, but more WHEN it will happen.

Taking all of this into account, I have noticed during my work in sports that on numerous occasions I caught athletes (in different sports) on a lie. Most of them are not so serious that it blew up, but it is always good to look out for these, so you can recognize them in similar situations.

Here we go, the 5 Lies Athletes like to tell

1. “I have an injury”

It is very easy for an athlete to fake an injury, and stay without training or without competing. Some of the reasons could be

  • Outside pressure from people (parents, scouts, big public, television)
  • Fear of losing
  • Other planned activities (wedding, party, studies)
  • Bad performance and blaming a sudden injury

2. “Nobody helps me”

During interviews athletes (or their parents) may say that nobody supports them in anyway. The main reason for this is to ask for attention, and get some additional sponsors.

It is a fact though that since the athlete is doing an interview, they have already developed to an athlete of a higher level. High enough to be interesting for the media. In most of the cases these athletes definitely already got plenty help from different people (volunteers) and even sponsors.

3. “My coach says…..”

It is easier for athletes to hide behind a coach or a manager, than to take full responsibility for their decisions. I am talking about decisions towards the choice for a sponsor, a specific competition or perhaps even a change in coach or team.

4. “My strength and Condition training is pretty good”

This one is especially heard in sports or situations where the athlete(s) self need to take care of this training. I am talking about sports like shooting, teamsports, bowling, tennis etcetera.
It is a fact that athletes in these kind of sports like the technical part more than the fundamentals. So logically their focus will not be on improving their strength and condition. They want to hide their lack of training as long as possible, and therefore will lie easy about their fitness program.

5. Doping

The use of illegal substances in order to enhance the performance is called doping. We all have seen this in sports, and it is a fact that athletes will lie about them having used any of these.

6. Age

Most of the times a younger age benefits athletes in sports like gymnastics, soccer or even baseball. This goes for athletes who are on the sub elite level, and who just need that lie about their age to perform on the highest level, or perhaps compete in a league/category of a younger age.

This is an interested article about 11 athletes who lied about their age

The most common reason for athletes is to avoid confrontation. Getting in trouble is never fun but lying to avoid it is never a good solution. When the truth comes out the athlete will feel even more uncomfortable with the situation he/she is in now.


Another common reason athletes lie is to make themselves seem “better” or more interesting. This sort of lying can be a sign of low self esteem, problems at home, or depression. It is difficult as an athlete to accept the fact that you have reached your maximum level, and consequently will never break that world record, win that medal or become so famous.

Do you know another common lie, used by athletes? Please mention them in the comment box below.

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  1. Some times when dealing with athletes, I find understanding their characteristics, social outlooks and social outcomes, allows the process of interaction and acceptance of the athletes true values and beliefs.

    Do athletes lie because we don’t listen to what they percieve to be wright or wrong, or are they just trying to tell us indirectly, their version of modern behavior. Cheers.

  2. interesting article!

  3. Don’t think I agree with this. Makes it sound like athletes lie more than the average person


    • I didn’t want the article to sound that way. But if athletes lie, I think you can expect 1 of the 6 lies I mentioned in the article

      • I suppose that’s true. After re-reading the article with ALL athletes in mind, I can see how these maybe the trends.

  4. You are right but let’s not forget they are human who are transfering what they already know to sporting life. Understanding why and how they come up with the lies will shape how we handle and communicate with them. Kudos

  5. 1. “I have an injury” - it can be also in situation, when athlete is lazy and gets money only salary without bonus for competition, match etc. It is often problem for some soccer/football players :)

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