The last thing in the world that Psychologist William J. Beausay wants to be accused of is generalizing. None of this casual, flat-statement lumping together in categories, such as "All race drivers are aggressive" or "Everybody knows that linebackers are mean rascals." The art of psychology as applied to sport is much more exacting; men must be examined one at a time and their profiles carefully charted. And what has Dr. Beausay found after years of exhaustive study? Among other things, he has found that all race drivers are aggressive—and linebackers are nothing if not mean. And more.
By individual profile, a race driver is nervous, depressed, withdrawn, insensitive, self-absorbed, dominating, hostile, uncontrolled. And if that isn't enough, he also is slow of eye, at least slower than the average person. On Dr. Beausay's charts, a driver who makes the lineup for the Indianapolis 500 tests so high on hostility that some psychiatrists might declare that improvement was urgent. He checks out as being so tense and high-strung that it seems a wonder he can buckle his crash helmet, let alone get his car out of the pits.
The data is right there, as the accompanying chart shows. No escaping the data: Beausay is the executive director of a small research institute he calls the Academy for the Psychology of Sports International, and the Toledo psychologist has run off personality profile tests on hundreds of practicing athletes, including 50 Indy drivers. After three years of examinations conducted at the Speedway during the race month of May, Dr. Beausay's data point to the conclusion that the most successful hard chargers who race there appear to be average in only one of nine vital personality characteristics. Further, the eyesight of the drivers is no better than the man's in the stands.
Tests by Beausay have shown that while the Indy driver has no trouble picking out the gibberish posted on an eye doctor's wall, he scores significantly lower than other athletes his age in examinations designed to show how quickly and efficiently his eyes can focus and refocus.
Beausay has more dandies. If racing drivers don't sound exactly stable, consider football linebackers and defensive linemen. Beausay's profiles reveal that these men possess personality patterns that deviate even more. They are more nervous and depressed. Their profiles show that football's primary defenders are also more hostile, socially averse, insensitive and impulsive than the drivers.
This sort of situation is fine on the fields of sport, but what of the social side? Say a young woman was shopping for a mate; what should she do? Answer: Go for the quarterback every time. Despite a certain suspicion that they are all longhaired, arrogant playboys, the quarterbacks, says Beausay, are not all bad. "While they test almost as high in hostility as drivers and linebackers," he says, "it is for different reasons. It is because the quarterbacks are extreme perfectionists. Otherwise, they are a pretty cool bunch. They tend to be more lighthearted, free of themselves, compassionate and self-disciplined."
The alltime safest choice for reliable stability turns out to be distance runners. According to Beausay's profiles, they tend to be passive, compliant, tolerant and even more self-disciplined than the quarterbacks.
But what of Beausay himself, this snoop who prowls the sports scene with his meddlesome 180-part quizzes, computer printout codes and charts and graphs? Is he intent upon proving that all the hotshot athletes are hopeless neurotics? Is nobody safe with Beausay?
With a couple of notable exceptions, everybody is safe with the good doctor. Beausay is a large and affable 42-year-old assistant professor currently working at the psychology department of Bluffton College in Ohio. He has a pretty wife, Milane, three athletically active sons and two daughters. Beausay takes to the pulpit only on rare occasions, but he is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He also has a certificate in dental technology and a B.A. in psychology from Ohio State, an M.A. in counseling and a Ph.D. in administration from Bowling Green. Drilling, quizzing or searching, souls—those are the credentials for a man who likes to probe personalities.
The profile charts are part of a larger plan. Beausay is seeking an improvement of the breed. "The psychological aspect of what produces a super athlete is an overlooked and yet highly valuable subject for study," says Beausay, a high school star whose own athletic development stopped in college well short of super. "I have no doubt that this knowledge also can help an average athlete to change himself into a superior one."
There are enough believers around the country to have hired Beausay to profile the personalities of more than 300 National Football League players, 100 motor racers, a wide assortment of pro and college basketball, football and hockey players, sky divers and even a women's semipro tackle-football team. "The girls tested out the same as their male counterparts," he says.
Beausay was first turned on to a study of the athletic psyche back in the early 1960s by Bill Glass, who played defensive end in the NFL, first with the Detroit Lions and later with the Cleveland Browns, where he was once rated All-Pro. The two met through a mutual friend and immediately started picking each other's brains. All his football life Glass had listened to coaches ascribe victory and defeat to whether or not a team was "up" for a particular game. "'But never did I hear a coach define what 'up' meant or just how to attain that state," says Glass. "I decided to find out for myself. It was a difficult search because the only advice available on the subject was in books on salesmanship."
Enter Beausay. At dinner one night the psychologist and the defensive end were discussing the game that Glass would soon be playing against the New York Giants and their outstanding quarterback, Y. A. Tittle. Glass sought a method by which he could get prodigiously "up" for a busy afternoon of playing sack the quarterback. Beausay introduced the concept of autosuggestion.
"What is the chief obstacle you must overcome to get at Tittle?" Beausay recalls asking.
"The offensive tackle."
"How do you want to handle the offensive tackle?"
"I take a quick step across the line, throw him off and then shoot for Tittle."
Beausay distilled this description into an explosive three-word command—"Charge! Throw! Shoot!"—which Glass was to repeat to himself frequently during the preceding week and then during the game. The psychologist calls this Super Psyching. Neither Glass nor Beausay can now recall how often, if at all, Glass was able to shoot Tittle down when next they met across the line of scrimmage. But what did happen was that Glass soon became a master of this psychological pep pill, popping it in many forms.
"I would lie on my bed before a game and imagine that I had pulled down a motion picture screen and was watching a film of myself in action, constantly getting past the offensive tackle," says Glass. "This was putting positive pictures into my subconscious—in the same way that performing well in a real game would have done—and it built up my confidence."
When the tape cassette came into popular use Glass would record a series of commands on tape and play them back continuously during game weeks. A typical Glass-to-Glass taped Super Psyching might go something like this: "When the ball is snapped you are going to CHARGE. You are going to charge across the line of scrimmage and PURSUE, PURSUE, PURSUE. You are going to pursue for 40, 50 and 60 yards until you make the tackle or until the whistle blows." Always the trigger word would be "charge." The belief was that when repeated on the field it would activate the taped instructions buried in the Glass subconscious.
Glass' most successful tape job was done prior to the Browns-Washington Redskins game on the opening weekend of the 1966 season. The game was in Washington and the temperature was an enervating 105°. To offset the heat, the message that Glass fed into his tape cassette was that heat was beautiful and that it kept the muscles loose. But best of all, the heat would help Glass because he was now psychologically programmed to use it, while his opponents, in their ignorance, would dissolve into sweat-soaked exhaustion. During the game, while all around him seemed to blur in slow motion, Glass charged through and shot for the quarterback, Sonny Jurgensen, like a man possessed (which, of course, he was). The Browns won 38-14 and it is generally agreed around Cleveland that this was just about the finest game of Glass' outstanding career.
Bill Beausay was often an enthralled spectator at these violent testimonials to the effectiveness of Super Psyching. "It was incredible," he recalls. "Bill Glass, a completely warm, outgoing and friendly guy, ceased to be a human being. He played like a carefully programmed machine. It really got me interested in the psychology of athletes, especially so because I soon discovered that little testing had been done on them."
Beausay started out in Gasoline Alley at Indianapolis during time trials for the 500 in 1968, talking with the drivers and even wandering through the stands, trying to figure out why spectators turned out in such huge droves just for the time trials. He decided to make Indy his first major testing ground. With tips provided by Astronaut Neil Armstrong, a boyhood friend, on the personality tests used by NASA, plus some insights offered by Dr. Robert Taylor, co-author of the Taylor-Johnson Temperament Analysis Profile, Beausay returned to Indy during the 1969 time trials. This time he was armed with the 180-question Taylor-Johnson test and the blessings of Indy's medical director, Dr. Thomas A. Hanna.
That first year Beausay ran tests on 35 drivers—17 went on to qualify for the starting grid and 18 did not. All the starters showed in their personality profiles an unusually high level of hostility and impulsiveness, traits that would seem a bit dicey to ride with through the crowded, high-speed furor of the Indy race. Beausay also found it significant that in every one of nine listed characteristics, the 17 who qualified for the race were, as a group, from five to 10 degrees further removed from what could be described as average disposition than the 18 men who didn't make the lineup. The conclusion seemed inescapable that it was the extra hostility and aggressiveness that got the starters into the race.
Beausay was back again in 1970 for further testing, and the results served to confirm his earlier findings. Then, in 1971, he was on hand with a lineup of complex eye-testing equipment, at which time he discovered that many of the drivers had questionable peripheral vision. In the vital matter of how quickly the eyes could focus and refocus on different objects, they scored lower than athletes from other sports. The driver average on the number of focal points on which the eyes could focus during a period of one second was 2.3. The mark for the 50 major league baseball players Beausay has tested is 2.9 and the champ eye-baller of all is Chuck Ealey, the former University of Toledo quarterback now starring in Canada (SI, Dec. 11, 1972), who scored a phenomenal 4.6.
The idea, for Beausay, is to transform all this data into something pragmatic. This is where he claims to differ sharply from the more widely known team of Bruce Ogilvie and Thomas Tutko, who also have conducted hundreds of personality tests on athletes (SI, Jan. 18, 1971). "My purpose is to help the individual athlete improve performance through knowledge of his own psychology and how to get the most of it," claims Beausay. "Ogilvie and Tutko have made what I think is the mistaken choice of aligning themselves too closely with coaches and owners, which puts the emphasis more on manipulation."
Ogilvie and Tutko, in fact, are the authors of a book entitled Problem Athletes and How to Handle Them and their surveys done for numerous NFL clubs have so irritated the players that their Players Association has called for a ban on all psychological testing. Several players also have suggested that there is a far greater need for a book entitled Problem Coaches and How to Handle Them.
The methods used by Beausay to improve the breed are wondrously various and some even contain an element of risk—for Beausay. He once punched a Toronto Argonaut center squarely in the mouth in a dramatic attempt to suddenly raise his low hostility quotient so that the center would fire out at the opposing middle linebacker. The center might easily have preferred to fire out at Beausay. The psychologist also claims to have discovered the key to success for a punter on the New Orleans Saints—who scored low on hostility—when he found out that the man went partially berserk when pinched. An assistant coach was instructed to give the kicker's biceps a sharp, painful squeeze just as he was being sent into the game. The autosuggestion method via tape recorder, √† la Bill Glass, is still a Beausay favorite to help an athlete overcome inconvenient Mr. Nice Guy tendencies. Another is a form chart he uses with athletes who score low in persistence, as determined in a test Beausay has devised himself. "It teaches a guy to set goals for himself," he says. "That's important because a guy without goals is usually too complacent to succeed."
Overly complacent subjects are asked to fill out four boxes on the chart. In the first box they record what goals they would like to reach during the coming season or year. In the second box they list the various methods they plan to use to achieve those goals. In the third box they sketch out a proposed timetable. The fourth is the evaluation box. When the season is over and the chips have fallen, they must look back and decide whether they made good on preseason predictions or just fell flat on their faces.
"If a person sticks to that process," claims Beausay, "there is almost nothing he can't do. The issue becomes not 'can I,' but 'will I.' I use it myself."
Beausay now is working on some ingenious training devices to improve visual efficiency, principally for quarterbacks. He is putting together a slide show that depicts what a quarterback might see as he peers downfield for a receiver. On each slide a receiver and a defender are pictured in a different one-on-one situation. As the slides flash briefly on the screen the quarterback must call out whether he would throw or not throw in each situation. Sometimes distracting lights flash off and on to one side, or taped crowd noises roar in his ears. This is a device thought capable of demonstrating whether or not a quarterback is a risk taker or too cautious, as well as training his eye and his mind to act quickly in unison under game conditions.
Not long ago, after studying his research, Beausay forwarded to the brass at Indy a plan he thinks would do much to improve the track's accident record. "Right now the cars are too jammed up at the start and so those drivers who squeeze ahead to improve their starting positions cause accidents that can wreck the race," he says. "What this means is that drivers are being penalized for demonstrating the very quality—impulsiveness—that makes them successful.
"My suggestion is to imprint a highly visible grid pattern over the start-finish straight, pair the cars in rows of two instead of three, and station plenty of marshals along the track at the start who could, with the aid of the grid, easily determine who is trying to sneak up. A one-lap penalty would be assessed for each infraction. I think all drivers should also be given an eye test that simulates dynamic race conditions, not just some lettered chart, and that each driver should go through visual efficiency training. After all, things are happening out there at 200 miles per hour now. It's vital to have something better than just normal perception." So far the Indy brass has taken Beausay's suggestion calmly.
Beausay even sees potential rejuvenation for those passive Milquetoasts of sport, the runners. "It's surprising how low a person like Dave Wottle, the Olympic 800-meter champion, as well as other distance runners, score on such things as hostility and self-confidence." says Beausay. "Most runners seem to be passive, submissive followers. But once you know the profile you can work with them to develop more aggressiveness and stronger self-confidence. The research is still continuing and someday we are going to have runners with the race driver's psychic attitude. When that happens I predict that the world mile record will come down a full 10 seconds."