Athletes’ Mental Health
I’m glad Simone Biles stopped competing before she was seriously hurt. And Naomi Osaka clearly has emotional problems with her fame and her game. Other athletes are now chiming in. I can still remember Mary Lou Retton with a hurt ankle, needing a perfect “10” on the vault for victory and actually delivering it. But things were more genuinely amateur then.
All athletes who are at a world class level are “pros.” They focus on their narrow specialities full time and are subsidized in order to do so. But is this getting crazy, where you become an increasingly narrow and manic person to take one-one-hundredth of a second off a record (or your own time), or gain a tenth of a point from the Romanian judge, and suffer huge damage to your body and mind in many cases in that pursuit?
The old Brooklyn Dodgers made about $20,000 or so a year and took the subway and trolly cars to the ballpark. They all had jobs off-season.
We live in a fanatic society, fed by media revenues, where it appears competition has gone beyond the exercise of human athletics to doping, cheating, body-shaming, emotional harassment, press exploitation, and incredible pressure. For what? We’re not curing cancer here and, in fact, these particular Olympic athletes are endangering their lives and those of others by playing games in a dangerous, Covid-ripe geography supported by government hubris and detachment from proper health care. Over 100 in the American contingent refused to be vaccinated.
Is it only a matter of time before someone is killed flying off the apparatus, or an archer puts an arrow into an official? Whose national anthem do you play then?