Updated: Oct 16, 2020
Sadness and Grief are just normal human emotions. Sometimes things happen that us humans cannot control, such as life and death. Although it tears us down and puts us at our low, we can all bounce back and learn from these tragic moments. A lot of the time we question why bad things happen to good people, while the answer is never clear. These types of emotions are normal, but sometimes sadness can get a little two far. Sometimes people decide to not let go and cling on to their emotions, which makes things much worse. It causes people to be even more upset, loose sleep, stop doing regular activities, become fatigued, lose their appetite, and so on. These are all little symptoms of a huge problem known as mental health.
Recently, one of my best friends had suffered a stroke and has been on life support for the past few weeks. His family is devastated and after all this time, they are still debating on weather to pull the plug even though his chances of coming back are slim to none. This tragic accident has recently put me at my low. Losing one of my best friends in such a horrible way has caused me to stop doing activities that I enjoy, such as writing and playing basketball, and have trouble sleeping. Even though I was upset over the death of my friend I knew I had to bounce back before things got worse. I took a good look at my situation and wanted to find a way to relate it with sports.
At this point you probably stopped reading and thought "What does this have to do with sports?" Well trust me it does. Throughout history, a very common problem that has grown immensely all over the world and is now at it's highest point ever is mental health. Mental health can be broken down into many different parts known as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and so many more. Nearly one out of every five adults in the United States live with a mental illness or have experienced a depressing breakdown, and around 8 million people die each year due to mental illnesses. Most people think about themselves or close relatives and friends as the only ones who could suffer from these illnesses, but everyone does, even if you don't notice it. Sometimes we forget that everyone experiences these feelings at some point in their life, even some of the greatest athletes of all time.
Almost everyone, even myself, assumes that all athletes are happy. We assume that because they are paid millions of dollars, own big houses, have nice clothes, and buy expensive things that they have high spirits. Athletes also get to do endorsements and advertisements, which makes them even more money. With all money and stuff they have there is no way they are sad. right? Well the truth is that money doesn't buy happiness. The fact of the matter is that, even with everything that athletes have, we don't know what is going on in their lives. They could be mourning the death of a friend or family member or upset about a problem in their community or home. Athletes are constantly being treated like property instead of people, which is why so many of them suffer from mental issues.
We also assume that athletes are happy because they get to play their favorite sport for a living. I would love to be a pro athlete, but sometimes when I take a step back and look at it, I don't think its for me. Imagine just having a bad day in general and then that night having to go out in front of 40 to 70 thousand fans that boo you and curse your name. Imagine making a mistake in a game that is caught on camera in front of millions of people and everyone will make fun of you for the next decade. Imagine training every day, not for yourself, but for the fans, organization, and money to support your family. Imagine spending 75% of a year in and preparing for a season with only a few months to spend time for your family. Imagine every move you make in your life being tracked by some person, reporter, or coach at any moment. I don't think many people understand how hard it is to be and athlete and what athletes go through day in and day out.
Over the past few years athletes of many different sports have tried to speak out on local issues and help their communities, but many people have been shutting them down with the "shut up and dribble" motto. Lebron James has opened up a school in Cleveland, helping hundreds of kids get the tools they need to learn and become better students. Kevin Love has recently donated 500 thousand dollars to the psychology program at UCLA to help people learn and stop mental health issues. JJ Watt donated millions of dollars to help fix places in Houston affected by hurricane Harvey in 2017. Athletes can make such a big difference in peoples lives on and off the court. Many people criticize athletes participation in their communities instead of celebrating their willingness to help. Athletes always want to help out their communities, but when people try to tell them they can't and shouldn't is heart breaking.
Not only are people discrediting athletes actions, but also their opinions. Players like Malcolm Jenkins and Victor Cruz who are constantly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement are also told to "shut up and dribble" as if they don't get a say in their community. Imagine being told you shouldn't be speaking out on a topic that you are passionate about because your "just an athlete" or your "not qualified". Telling someone that they don't have an opinion is wrong, no matter how you say it. Everyone has an opinion and should be heard no matter how ridiculous, annoying, true, or false it may be. Just because they are athletes doesn't mean they don't have right to speak out for themselves, their community, or their ideas to better the sport that they partake in.
Mental health not only affects the average person, but everyone. With all this taken into account we have to remember that athletes are people too. We always need to keep in mind that they aren't invincible and they have problems and opinions just like us. It's about time we stop treating athletes as property and start treating them like human beings. They are criticized, laughed at, and shrugged off on a daily basis, and we are wrong for doing that. Athletes go through a lot every single day of their lives, which takes a toll on their mind and it messes with their mental health. Everyone needs to pay attention to what they are saying because it is a real problem and we can help by just listening. Mental Health does affect athletes. We all need to notice it hear them out so we can help fix it for all of the athletes that put themselves out there for our entertainment.
Love you Lil Zy! I will never forget you.
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