Learning to open up in the world of sport
Colm, an avid sports fan, is not only entertained but any kind of sport going, but encouraged by a new honesty about mental health, showing the human-side in the sporting world.
I think it’s fair to say that I am a bit of sports fanatic. I will watch any form of sport. I feel moved and involved by it and even begin to support and take sides. I am in awe of these exceptionally talented individuals who perform week-in week-out at the highest level.
Van Persie tapping in goals left right and center (not too much of late to be fair), the Killkenny hurler making the sport look like child’s play (as a cork person I find this very hard to admit), BOD making every last ditched tackle and definitely earning his place on a third lions tour, McIrory and Woods making every shot count at the masters this weekend or even Djokovic showing the world why he is the new Federar, I love all of them. There’s something about watching these amazing individuals that makes you forget they’re human.
Shaking the football world
Something happened just over a year and a half ago that rattled the football world; the tragic death of Gary Speed by suicide. This was completely unexpected and shocked fans and players alike. His death unearthed something that appeared to have a brooding in the sport for quite a long time; the need to finally open up about mental health issues.
Not isolated to soccer, the shift in the GAA’s attitude and openness towards mental health is becoming ever apparent. This was brought to the for-front primarily after All Ireland winning-senior footballer Noel O’Leary’s brother tragically took his own life.
Relief in opening up
Even ex-Munster and Ireland’s rugby player Alan Quilinan has openly admitted to having had difficulty dealing with depression. He has discussed the nervousness he felt at opening up about the topic, and how relieving it was to finally talk about it.
I think it’s exceptionally humanising to think that people with such incredible talent on the sporting field are also the very same people who can and do experience mental health problems. Perhaps what is even more impressive is how open these individuals have been about their experiences.
Even within the preying public eye some have openly admitted to experiencing severe anxiety, depression, issues with addiction and drug/alcohol dependency. As a young, typically-closed off, male I find it inspiring watching these individuals discuss some of the more sensitive topics in their lives that you’d never have imagined given their attitude on the pitch.
Everyone has a story
There are two take-home points for me from this. One very obvious one is the cliché “don’t judge a book by its cover”. Everyone has a story to tell and every story is as important and as unique as the next. The other (and to me the more important) is the sense of encouragement I am given watching these sports personalities discuss something that has been brushed under the carpet for years. Hopefully watching these inspiring individuals can help me, and others, to know that it’s ok to not be ok and equally to reach out when we need to.