Mentality is just as important as physicality

Gabrielle Genovea

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Professional athletes feel down sometimes too. In the last couple weeks American basketball players DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love have sparked a conversation about mental health in the sports world.

Both men have shared their personal experiences about how they’ve dealt with anxiety and depression while in the National Basketball Association (NBA). By making their flaws public they have opened a door for athletes across the board to speak out about the challenges and the pressures that have been put on them during their athletic career.

This has led to more basketball players especially men openly discussing their personal issues earning much negative and unsupportive feedback from fans. Fans surrounding the sports world have deemed players who are speaking out as privileged and believe the players are speaking complete nonsense.

Immediately after seeing this I thought to myself, at the end of the day who has the right to invalidate other people’s feelings and thoughts regarding their mental health? There are children all over the world who look up to these players. I hope that the athletes disclosure brings confidence to those kids who feel this way but are too afraid to speak out.

The players’ honesty allowed the general public to see them at their most vulnerable diminishing the idea that men in sports must always maintain a “manly” composure on and off the court. This constitutes the type of stigma that DeRozan and Love wish to see removed from the sports industry and perceptions of mental illness altogether.

The two have sat in interview after interview to spread the word and get their story out into the public.

Even though the NBA is not requiring teams to hire a sports psychologist many teams have already done so in full support of supporting athletes’ mental health.

My only concern with this is that honesty could prejudice how a player is viewed. If players tell their coach they’re having problems and need to see a professional about it the coach is more than likely going to penalize the player for seeking help by taking away playing time.

I do not know a single student athlete who would willingly sacrifice playing time for anything and this must be even more true for professional athletes. Playing ball is almost all that they do. Having even a small amount of that taken away could worsen the state that they are in.

Although the topic of mental illness and wellness is not new to the sports industry DeRozan and Love have renewed the dialogue that slowly began to fade out in recent years.

When Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest spoke out about his anger issues his problems were disregarded and he was viewed as crazy by the public.

Now is a perfect time for this movement to emerge due to the fact that people are more accepting of new beliefs and open to understanding mental health for what it truly is. The conversation cannot stop here. As the campaign to support those with mental health issues increases, there will conceivably be an increase in children with positive and real role models to whom they can relate.

On the other hand until the stigma associating mental illness with weakness goes away society as a whole will never be able to tend to those with mental health issues seriously and efficiently.




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