By Ken Reed
Mental health ills are very real and quite prevalent in our society.
And the pandemic has magnified the mental health challenges we all face.
Anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts have been part of the human condition from the beginning. The problem is very few people talked about their mental health struggles and even fewer suggested they were a normal part of being human.
We’ve long lived in a society in which openly discussing mental health issues is taboo. Athletes are certainly no exception. In fact, athletes have always been expected to be physically and mentally tough and not reveal any anxieties or frustrations for fear of being seen as weak.
Fortunately, that’s changing as more and more athletes are openly discussing their mental health. Moreover, they are talking about the importance of getting help for their mental ailments just like they do their physical ailments.
Several American athletes heading to Tokyo for the Olympics have talked about making mental health a priority in recent months, including:
* Gymnast Simone Biles: “For a while, I saw a psychologist once every two weeks,” Biles told Health magazine in June. “That helped me get in tune with myself so that I felt more comfortable and less anxious.”
* Boxer Ginny Fuchs: “I have a great support group that has helped me over the years to stay strong and stay focused and overcome my OCD battles every day,” says Fuchs who does Zoom calls with a therapist twice a week.
* Beach Volleyball Player April Ross: “I think mental health is huge, and it’s been a big focus of mine for the last five years or so. … I believe that mental health translates to physical health and performance.” Ross says she meditates and writes in a journal on a regular basis.
* Sprinter Noah Lyles: “Mental health is just a part of life,” says Lyles. “Just like the reason you go to a doctor is to make sure your body is OK, the reason you go to a therapist or you talk to somebody is to make sure that your mind is OK.”
This is an exciting and important trend. Historically, athletes have been less likely to seek help for mental health issues than the general public. The fact that’s changing should benefit society as a whole, especially young people who often look up to elite athletes.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #11 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Latest on Brain Trauma, Concussions and CTE with Dr. Chris Nowinski – Nowinski is CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO.
Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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