Swim Poll of the Week: Is the USOC responsible for the mental health of its athletes in light of Michael Phelps’ revelation of depression while competing for the USA?

swim-poll

This is the Swim Poll of the Week for Wednesday February 26, 2020, sponsored by Strechcordz Swim Training Products. In our last poll, we wanted to know: Is the USOC responsible for the mental health of its athletes in light of Michael Phelps’ revelation of depression while competing for the USA?

Michael Phelps recently came forward in an interview with Sally Jenkins at The Washington Post that he was ignored by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) when he came forward about his depression and mental health issues that affected him while he was still competing.

The most decorated Olympian in history points to the dangers of silence when he says: “I was afraid to say something because I thought I couldn’t.”

In an interview with Sally Jenkins at the Washington Post, Phelps is asked how the USOC leadership responded when he revealed the nature and depth of his struggle. Here is how Jenkins describes what happened next:

You would like to believe athletes who wear USA on their chests are better cared for these days, after all the ghastly problems. The trouble is, you can’t. Not after you read Dr. William Moreau’s lawsuit accusing U.S. Olympic committee officials of mishandling mental health issues. And especially not after you call up Michael Phelps and ask him what the leadership’s response was to his revelation that he suffered from depression while he was winning gold medals. The phone line practically burns up with Phelps’s answer.

At first after you pose the question, there is a dead quiet from Phelps. It stretches on and on, until the silence becomes the point. You realize that contained in it is an angry tension like a buzz on the line. Finally, Phelps speaks.

“That’s what I got from them,” he says.

Nothing.

“How long should I stay silent?” he asks. “I can sit here and be silent for as long as you want, because that’s what I got.”

Is the USOC responsible for the mental health of its athletes in light of Michael Phelps’ revelation of depression while competing for the USA?

We asked for the swim poll and you answered with…

Here are the answers:

Yes (51%)

No (49%)

2 comments

  1. Lee Barrett Westmoreland

    The phrase “responsible for the mental health of its athletes” is a tricky one, because the organization has to balance the privacy interests of its athletes against any regulatory powers.

    That said, I would say the USOC DOES have a responsibility to have programs and protocols in place to help their athletes during mental health crises. They should have a program in place to where when or if an athlete (or a coach on behalf of an athlete) expresses a need or desire to get help, that help and assistance can be facilitated through the USOC.

  2. avatar
    Joann

    The individual him/herself is responsible for his/her reactions. There should be mental health professionals all over the dorms. The time when an athlete is most at risk is when they make silver or bronze. Some countries hold loved ones “hostage” and threaten athletes with harm to loved ones if they don’t bring home cold. Others have spent much of their lives putting in hours upon hours dreaming of gold. No one dreams of silver or bronze. Being sometimes a tenth of a second away from first can be crushing. I worked in the Olympic village in 96. Those who won silver, needed to be debriefed, IMO.

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