The other side of sports


Esther Premazzi

The Monte Vista women’s tennis team is playing at home against California High School. Before they played, the team cheered to get pumped up for the game.

Mental health is something that many athletes go through daily, but not many feel as if they can talk about their mental health. 

     Home, school, and even work can all affect one’s mental health. One major and underviewed problem is in the sports world. The pressure student athletes receive from their coaches, parents, and school can be a lot. 

     Sports can help with mental health and be “therapeutic” or an outlet for all the emotions they have built up inside. Keeping your mind focused on something else besides problems can help relieve those problems.

     “I think that playing a sport can help athletes, because they help get your mind off the stresses of life.” Liam Clay, a former freshman baseball player at Monte Vista said. 

     Clearing your mind off of everything and just focusing on the game, practice, etc. releases stress and can temporarily fix your problems. Sports can not only play a positive role in helping with mental health, but it can also contribute in a huge way to make an athlete’s mental health worse.

     “I personally experience a lot of pressure and anxiety when I play which tends to take its toll on my mental well-being.” Division one lacrosse commit, and senior at Monte Vista Ava Mark said. 

     Pressure surrounds athletes when it comes to performing their best, and when their performance determines how the end results of the games will be. Often seeing other players around you can affect your overall mood causing you to be more down on yourself.

      “If I do not do good or score enough goals, I often find myself comparing my performance to others on my team or the opposing team,” Mark said.

     Not many professional athletes have spoken out about mental health problems, but Kevin Love, current Cleveland Cavaliers basketball player, and Naomi Osaka, retired professional tennis player, are some of the few that have had the courage to open up to the media about the problems they’ve faced. 

     “The truth is that I have suffered long bouts of depression since the US open in 2018 and I have had a really hard time coping with that,” Osaka said in a statement posted on social media.

    Many people around the world were surprised about her comments on mental health. Osaka would later decide in May of 2021 to not participate in the French Open due to her mental problems.

     Athletes often leave mental health under the blankets because of the “expectations” they must meet. 

     Martina Navratilova, eighteen time Grand Slam winner, understood Osaka’s reasons for not continuing to play in the French Open, and shared her thoughts on how mental health is neglected with athletes.

     “As athletes we are taught to take care of our body, and perhaps the mental and emotional aspect gets short shrift. This is about more than doing or not doing a press conference.” Tennis icon Martina Navratilova said.

     After Kevin Love suffered a panic attack in 2017, he has been open about his battle with anxiety and depression. He tells his story and tries to touch those dealing with mental health issues all around the world and not just athletes.

     “Mental health isn’t just an athlete thing. What you do for a living doesn’t have to define who you are. This is an everyone thing,”Love said.

     Mental health is an issue that will continue to affect athletes, but also regular people around the world. Athletes like Love and Osaka sparked the fire for mental health awareness, and it will continue to be sparked.

     “So if you’re reading this and you’re having a hard time, no matter how big or small it seems to you, I want to remind you that you’re not weird or different for sharing what you’re going through.” Love said.