The Essence of Sport Is To improve Mental Health; Not Break It Down

Mental-Health
Has sport at the Olympic level lost its essence and morphed into an athlete becoming the symbol of a sport vs the participant in sport?

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Has sport at the Olympic level lost its essence and morphed into an athlete becoming the symbol of a sport vs the participant in sport?   When that line is crossed, lessons no longer have meaning, and the athlete now represents more than her or himself.  As a symbol, the athlete now represents agents, corporations, governing bodies, marketing firms, and sponsors AND all THEIR agendas.  That is a dangerous place to be.

I always thought that the essence of sport is for us to find our ourselves.  To learn how to perfect a skill.  To learn how to exercise mind control.  To accept the ups and downs that mirror real life.  To learn to overcome setbacks and to accept victory in a humble way.

I always thought that the essence of sport is to set goals and learn how to achieve them no matter how high or hard or how long it takes to accomplish.

I always thought that the essence of sport is to find your demon, confront it and defeat it. To learn how to overcome mental blocks and debilitating defeats.  To teach us about ourselves and to carry those lessons into real life.

One of the greatest lessons that sport teaches us is how to learn to control our mind in the most pressure packed moments and to learn from it.  To take those lessons into real life so you can deal with real issues like divorce, family death, job loss, illness, and financial disaster.

You don’t win in sport as you much as you win in life.

But when the platform of Olympic sports is no longer a sport but a profession or job, it loses its essence and moves onto an entirely different platform.   This is the precipice where we find ourselves today.

It is the sports’ governing bodies, staff and coaches that need to put safeguards in place to focus on the performance and not the outcome. To prevent mental health issues by presenting mental growth as a healthy result of participation and mindfulness.

We must not lose the essence of sport and no athlete should ever become a symbol of the sport.  That stops the learning progression and places an unfair burden on the individual and thus lays the groundwork for real mental health issues.

The essence of sport is to improve mental health and not to break it down.

2 comments

  1. avatar
    Steve Ruiter

    This story comes adjacent to one here that talks about Caleb Dressel, after winning his first ever individual Olympic gold medal, being on the verge of joining an elite 3 golds in one Olympics club.

    Who is putting the pressure on?

  2. avatar
    Van Savant

    The essence of sport these days is to do as you describe, but add to that the juggling of the requirements of sponsors, corporate interests, coaches, and of course family and friends. Sure, it’s different, but the world is different. It has always been different and always will be different. Man evolves, and so does sport. This is the natural evolution of things and I accept that. Athletes that don’t can exempt themselves, and fans/sports writers who can’t accept this can opt-out as well.

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