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Head in the game?

A deeper look into mental health in sports

Wyatt Shipman, Sports Writer

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When we are watching our favorite athletes battle it out against each other on a nightly basis, we need to consider what’s going on inside their heads.

During a game last season Cleveland Cavaliers forward, Kevin Love, exited the game early because of a panic attack. Love then later came out with an article in The Players Tribune addressing his history of mental health issues.

The rise of concerns regarding CTE in football players and now Love opening up about his mental health has really began the conversation regarding mental health in professional sports and beyond.

Following the confession of Love, other NBA players such as DeMar Derozan voiced their support for players struggling with mental illness.

Instances like this are important. Professional athletes have enormous social sway, especially towards younger athletes.

If professional athletes can confess their mental health, it could make it easier for younger athletes to open up about what they are going through instead of keeping it inside.

“I think it’s important for an athlete to use their platform and their popularity to kind of de-stigmatize mental health” H-F school social worker Phillip Barker said.

Barker continued about how athletes, specifically male athletes, wouldn’t necessarily want to open up about their mental health because it might make them seem weak when they’re supposed to be a figure of masculinity.

According to an article in The Players Tribune, one of the problems athletes face when speaking on mental health issues is the stigma that it brings with it. The stereotype which says athletes are these bruting and impenetrable figures of masculinity is simply not true.

Mental health does not discriminate; the biggest lineman in the NFL could be suffering from something such as depression but because of this stereotype his condition could go unnoticed and untreated.

The same goes for high school athletes of the same stature.

Mental health isn’t a topic brought up often when talking about high school athletes, but maybe it should.

Since the rise of social media rates of mental illnesses such as depression have spiked in teenagers, why shouldn’t we be considering the mental health of our peers when we’re cheering for them on Friday nights?

According to an article published by ESPN, mental illness has been a silent enemy to professional athletes. The article addressed things like pressure of the spotlight and extreme stress from a prolonged season could be things that cause mental illness in professional athletes.

Now that athletes such as Love and Derozan have opened up about their mental health and voiced support for athletes struggling with mental illness, this could pave the way for a better future for our future generation of athletes.

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Head in the game?