As I continue to seek knowledge to better understand the mental health of our society, I interviewed an Orange Lutheran athlete to gain a new perspective on the struggles that they face. From my interview, I learned that being an athlete not only requires a strenuous amount of time but also requires energy and sacrifice to reach success at a personal level and as a team.
Through my interview with a Senior, William Lusher, on the Orange Lutheran hockey team, I learned of the pressures that weigh each individual player down. The concept and misconceptions of winning put pressure on each athlete as it defines the overall success and status of a team. From the objective of winning, there is an unspoken tension among the team as every individual’s efforts can establish the team’s status as either a champion or a failure. Since they pour numerous hours into lifting, skating, and practicing, losing results in teams––such as hockey––feeling as if they have wasted their time since they have sacrificed many hours to gain success.
At what cost does winning come at? Through learning about the mental health of many renowned Olympic athletes, it became clear that the pressure for success creates anxiety and depression. Sports physiologist, Caroline Silby, explained that 1 in 4 athletes face mental health issues. Silby further explained that the perfectionist side of the sport and the heavy influence of social media continues to contribute to the increasing numbers of anxiety and depression. From viewing the struggles of highly renowned Olympic winner Michael Phelps, I learned of the burden that athletes carry from the necessity to perform (Dockett 1). Though the public eye saw Phelps living a life of success, the athlete lost his own identity as a human being and became a figment of his sport. Phelps explained in an interview that he viewed himself only as a “swimmer, not a human being” (Miller 1). Phelps’s testimony demonstrates that the desire for success causes athletes of all levels and achievements to feel as if they are nothing without their sport. Ultimately, Phelps’s struggles present insight into the mindset of an athlete and bring awareness to our society that there is more to living than just another win.