I used to hate-watch the Kardashians. Moaning about their bitching, mocking their trivial (to me) problems. It was unhealthy. No matter what you have on the outside, it can’t make up for what’s missing or twisted on the inside. No matter how good circumstances seem, it doesn’t make up for internal struggles. The grass may be greener on the other side, but you can’t know if it’s real until you walk across it.
DeMar DeRozan is the latest person to remind me of this. The NBA All-Star spoke to the Toronto Star about battling depression. Other professional athletes, such as Royce White and NFL player Brandon Marshall, have gone public about living with mental illnesses.
Whether you’re a casual fan or an NBA addict like myself, we rarely think of professional athletes as human. Especially if you’re a casual fan, the only time you’re exposed to them is watching them play their sport. Maybe a news piece highlighting efforts to give back to the community.
We never think about their feelings when things don’t go their way, like losing. Not that we should, that’s not why most of us watch. But we shouldn’t dismiss their feelings either. Win or lose, players fly on chartered planes, have their warm cars idling at the airport by a team employee and drive home to mansions or luxury condos; but that doesn’t ease the sting of failure. We know that’s not how it works. They didn’t get to that level without holding themselves accountable. Add to that the expectations of people they’ve never met and the weight of exorbitant salaries; that’s enormous pressure. Laura standing over my shoulder while I write makes me uneasy. No one likes to fail, regardless of the stakes. We fear disappointing others more. Professional athletes are human, meaning they deal with the same stressors and problems we do.