When athletes lie

Athletes lie all the time, but it’s usually not malicious.

Yesterday a basketball player was in pain while she was doing push-ups — I could tell by the contortion of her face. I asked if that was the case, and she nodded.

I adjusted the exercise slightly and asked, “Does it feel better?” She nodded yes. A moment later the contorted face was back. “Does it hurt?,” I asked. She nodded yes. A different question led to a different response.

Athletes want to please you. They’ll often give you the answer you want to hear with little regard for the truth. The open-ended, “How does it feel?” would have been a better question in this case.

Most lies told derive from the motivation to please. At the very least, the motivation is worth understanding.


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