Masculinity In Sports May Be Overshadowing The Player's Mental State

Masculinity In Sports May Be Overshadowing The Player's Mental State

In an industry where physical labor is deemed as entertainment, how does this affect the player mentally?
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Last week, NBA all-star Demar DeRozan told The Toronto Sun that he is having a battle with depression and anxiety. "It’s one of the things that no matter how indestructible we look like we are, we’re all human at the end of the day,” says DeRozan, “We all got feelings...all of that. Sometimes...it gets the best of you, where times everything in the whole world’s on top of you.”

Professional sports has accepted a persona that all of it players and participants are the elite of the human species in the aspect of athleticism.Though their physical strengths are nothing to disagree with, what about their mental state? We look at professional athletes as entertainment before we look at them as individual people. This complicates the viewing experience as fans when we get shown a human to human connection when following sports.

Let us dive into the core and locker room of professional sports. The major sports like the MLB, NBA, and NFL have adopted an identity of masculinity and that no matter the pain and suffering, to make it in the league, you have to tough it out and give the people what they want. Like a man.

In an environment where expressing your feelings could bare a form of humiliation or receive a feeling of regret after expressing said feelings, the need to be masculine, or simply being someone you're not, could lead to a mental crisis.

Former Miami Dolphin lineman, Jonathan Martin, was recently checked into a mental hospital after he went on a tirade on Instagram. He threatened former teammates Mike Pouncey and Richie Incognito (pictured above) with a cruel caption stating that, "When you're a bully victim and a coward, your options are either suicide or revenge." The post contained a picture of a shotgun and unloaded shells surrounding the gun.He also threatened his old high school, Harvard-Westlake. This is, of course, being a big deal post-Stoneman Douglas. In 2015 he expressed his life in high school with Twitter and Facebook post saying that as "[O]ne of just a handful of minorities, you learn to tone down your size & blackness by becoming shy, introverted, friendly, so you won't scare the little rich white kids or their parents. "


Back in 2013, Martin claimed to be working in a hostile environment while playing for the Dolphins, saying that he took racist, homophobic, misogynistic, and sexually explicit comments directly from Incognito and Pouncey. The LAPD is currently investigating the matter, but what more can you do for someone who wants help but doesn't receive it? After the incident in 2013, Martin was traded to the 49ers and would then be traded to the Panthers to finally retire from a back injury in 2015.

Another, and possibly the most popular, case of this issue is Johnny Manziel. In this case, Johnny came into the league becoming the next great quarterback. But due to the party life of any superstar, Johnny fell into an abyss full of debt and alcohol. The question presented is why didn't people choose to implement a source of guidance instead of just bashing his decisions?

Recently, Johnny has announced a comeback after being out of the league for more than three years. But prior to this comeback, he went through rehab and therapy to finally cope with his possibly life-threatening lifestyle that consumed him on a daily basis. The problem with the way we documented Johnny's issue is that we turned his pain into entertainment. And we fed off his self-destruction and fueled his monster.

Demar DeRozan and his willingness to be open with his mental health is something that most athletes wouldn't dare do. And I personally respect him for doing so. In high school, I quit the football team after having a concussion and I got a total barrage of hate from my former teammates and even my coaches. Simply because it's a cruel perception that an athlete isn't allowed to show emotion or pain when hurt mentally, only physically. Because if you're hurt physically, you did what you're supposed to do. Put your body on the line for a crowd of people.

I hope that we can eliminate this stupid trend and let players express themselves in any way possible. And to lend a helping hand to those who having trouble expressing a desire to receive the help they need. These aren't just athletes, these are people.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram/ Toronto Raptors

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The Coach That Killed My Passion

An open letter to the coach that made me hate a sport I once loved.
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I fell in love with the game in second grade. I lived for every practice and every game. I lived for the countless hours in the gym or my driveway perfecting every shot, every pass and every move I could think of. Every night after dinner, I would go shoot and would not allow myself to go inside until I hit a hundred shots. I had a desire to play, to get better and to be the best basketball player I could possibly be.

I had many coaches between church leagues, rec leagues, personal coaches, basketball camps, middle school and high school. Most of the coaches I had the opportunity to play for had a passion for the game like I did. They inspired me to never stop working. They would tell me I had a natural ability. I took pride in knowing that I worked hard and I took pride in the compliments that I got from my coaches and other parents. I always looked forward to the drills and, believe it or not, I even looked forward to the running. These coaches had a desire to teach, and I had a desire to learn through every good and bad thing that happened during many seasons. Thank you to the coaches that coached and supported me through the years.

SEE ALSO: My Regrets From My Time As A College Softball Player

Along with the good coaches, are a few bad coaches. These are the coaches that focused on favorites instead of the good of the entire team. I had coaches that no matter how hard I worked, it would never be good enough for them. I had coaches that would take insults too far on the court and in the classroom.

I had coaches that killed my passion and love for the game of basketball.

When a passion dies, it is quite possibly the most heartbreaking thing ever. A desire you once had to play every second of the day is gone; it turns into dreading every practice and game. It turns into leaving every game with earphones in so other parents don't talk to you about it. It meant dreading school the next day due to everyone talking about the previous game. My passion was destroyed when a coach looked at me in the eyes and said, "You could go to any other school and start varsity, but you just can't play for me."

SEE ALSO: Should College Athletes Be Limited To One Sport?

Looking back now at the amount of tears shed after practices and games, I just want to say to this coach: Making me feel bad about myself doesn't make me want to play and work hard for you, whether in the classroom or on the court. Telling me that, "Hard work always pays off" and not keeping that word doesn't make me want to work hard either. I spent every minute of the day focusing on making sure you didn't see the pain that I felt, and all of my energy was put towards that fake smile when I said I was OK with how you treated me. There are not words for the feeling I got when parents of teammates asked why I didn't play more or why I got pulled after one mistake; I simply didn't have an answer. The way you made me feel about myself and my ability to play ball made me hate myself; not only did you make me doubt my ability to play, you turned my teammates against me to where they didn't trust my abilities. I would not wish the pain you caused me on my greatest enemy. I pray that one day, eventually, when all of your players quit coming back that you realize that it isn't all about winning records. It’s about the players. You can have winning records without a good coach if you have a good team, but you won’t have a team if you can't treat players with the respect they deserve.

SEE ALSO: To The Little Girl Picking Up A Basketball For The First Time


Cover Image Credit: Equality Charter School

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Figure Skating Is A Mental Game

Being a competitive athlete, there's many downs but there are moments where it's worth while.

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I feel so anxious that it feels like someone is constantly breathing down my neck. My heart is beating at 100 mph. My insides are tightening up and my palms are sweaty. My legs are frozen to a point where they are numb. The smell of hairspray and the taste of red lipstick lingers. The feeling of the ice against my blades is music to my ears. I tied my skates multiple times so it feels perfect. I keep moving to keep warm.

"Am I supposed to feel this way?".

"It's okay to feel this way, it's normal. I would be concerned if you didn't. Nevertheless, I believe in you. You have worked so hard for this".

"I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders, right now. If I don't do well, I failed everyone even myself".

"Don't think like that, you have prepared yourself well and you should have faith in yourself also. No matter what happens today, you should be proud of what you have accomplished in over the years you have skated. This is a lesson in life. If something knocks you down seven times, you get up eight times. That's what this sport has taught you. You are stronger than you think. This is your passion so let go of all of reality now and skate for yourself. Show everyone what you can do, this is your moment".

"Thank you, for everything".

She's right, you are stronger than you think. This is a mental game. If you tear yourself down, you're going to go down. Focus, you have to focus. As she said, you love this sport, the adrenaline and the feeling of being powerful. For once, you actually feel beautiful. Never mind that, but you are beautiful. Outside and in, and beautiful to watch. Skating is my escape from reality which is everything that I don't want, what I don't need. The pressure of being perfect, the mental breakdowns, the fear of failure, and the fear of getting hurt. Anything can happen within any moment but it's a risk that's worth taking.

Just forget it, there's no need to keep dwelling on the things that you can't change. This, right now, is all about you. This is your moment. Take it and never let go.

"And our next skater representing the Summit Figure Skating Club of North Carolina, Jessica Tran".

"Alright, do it to it".

I went out with a smile, the crowd cheering me on as I am getting ready to start my program.

"Breathe, take a deep breath. You got this, trust yourself".

As soon as I stood right in front of the judges, I was ready. The music began, filling the rink with a sudden shock. I turned on my character, my determination, and my love for skating.

Once the music stopped, everything stopped. It went by so fast that all I could really remember was the moment I finished. The heavy breathing, the sore arms, and weak legs. With a huge smile, I bowed to the judges and then to the crowd. I did it. I didn't care about the small mistakes that I did. I didn't care that I landed a difficult element. I didn't care that I fell on the easiest thing that I could do. All that mattered was the fact that I kept going. At the end of the day, medal or not, I'm still a winner.

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