Why narcissists are more likely to break the rules of sport

Goals for glory

So just how damaging is narcissism in sport? Sometimes the players with narcissistic tendencies get away with this kind of behaviour when playing in teams. All English football fans will most likely never forget Diego Maradona’s infamous “hand of god” goal during the 1986 World Cup, for example. The quarter-final between England and Argentina has been marred by controversy to this day. Though Maradona was seen knocking the ball into the goal with his hand – a big no-no in football – Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser claimed not to have seen it, and allowed the point.

While we’re not suggesting that Maradona is a narcissist, one could say that this is an example of an antisocial act which actually benefited the team – so why would you want to discourage it?

Offenders are not always so lucky, and on other occasions their actions have cost their teams dearly. In the 2014 World Cup, Luis Suarez appeared to bite Italian player Giorgio Chiellini while playing for Uruguay. The incident went unpunished during the match, but Suarez was retrospectively banned for the rest of the tournament, and many say his behaviour scuppered Uruguay’s World Cup chances. The incident shows that there are clearly different outcomes to controversial and antisocial acts, and advancements in technology mean that there is no longer any hiding place for such wrongdoing.

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