Athletes are human—we should treat them that way


A love of sport isn’t rare. Many people choose to spend most of their free time watching or surrounding themselves by it. On any given Sunday, you can take a stroll through the student ghetto and see current NFL games illuminating any visible television. 

And can you blame them? The storylines, the drama, and the excitement that comes with sport is second to none. No wonder so many of us grow up idolizing the athletes who play at the highest-level, putting the very best of them on pedestals.

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of it all. As a collective, we’ve come to expect the best-of-the-best whenever we put on a game, so much so that it’s a shock when any little mistake happens. However, a little perspective sheds some light on the pressure-laden environment athletes face every time they compete. 

No one is born a professional athlete; it takes years of dedication and training to even have a chance to play at the highest-level. On the way, you have to beat thousands, if not millions, of people like you with the same dream.

Imagine going to work in a stadium filled with people watching your every move, and one minute error could mean brutal criticism from thousands of fans or having your dream taken from you in an instant. Now imagine doing this seventeen, 82, or even 162 times a year.

It’s a heavy burden, and many athletes have begun to speak out about the toll that it takes on their mental health. NBA stars like Demar Derozan and Kevin Love have both talked about their battles with depression, and many more suffer in silence. 

Their sizeable salaries are often used as justification for the pressure and criticism athletes face. “They get paid millions, they should just deal with it, and if they can’t, they should just quit.” 

No amount of money is worth your mental health, even though it may seem that way. 

Yet because of the high-profile position athletes occupy, many people think it’s okay to ridicule and demean them with reckless abandon. In an environment where perfection is the norm, every mistake gets scrutinized that much more. 

For as long as sport remains sports, athletes will continue to make mistakes. Before you rant about how you could do better or hit send on a tweet tearing the kicker on the Chicago Bears apart, remember the blood, sweat, and tears sacrificed to get there, and that they’re only doing a job to entertain you.

Athletes are human first—no matter their fame and success—and we should show them compassion.

Herbert is a second-year Engineering student and The Journal's Assistant Photo Editor.

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