I had the honor to host Dr Mark Nesti, my formed PhD supervisor and a pioneer in applying existential psychology in sport, in the podcast. In the episode, we focus on exploring how the existential though can help us understand our situation in the world which has dramatically changed after the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Mark argues that this situation has revealed something important about the role of sport in human lives. Why is something so unnecessary, where nothing is produced, so vital to our lives?
Existential thought seems highly relevant for understanding the world under pandemic. Mark discusses existential themes – anxiety, loneliness, death, meaning – and how these themes manifest in human lives especially in these times. While Western societies have pushed death away from public awareness, the pandemic has reminded us that it is real. Our lives are finite.
How are elite and professional athletes responding to the new situation where they are finding themselves? Paradoxically, Mark argues support staff – with the best of intentions – are sometimes doing too much for their athletes. In his applied work, he has found that many athletes are resilient, learning from this experience, and perhaps finding new meaning in sport, too. They need time and space to reflect, try, fail, and try again.
Mark has written extensively on existential psychology, spirituality in sport, and applied work with elite and professional athletes. He has recently stepped down as Reader in sport psychology at Liverpool John Moores University and is now working as a British Psychological Society Chartered sports psychologist with the first team players and staff at Yorkshire County Cricket club and Aston Villa.