Not too long ago, Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka sensationally dropped out of the French Open. As a part of Grand Slam rules, athletes are obliged to attend press conferences and interact with the media, whatever the consequence of a match. On this event, Osaka selected to not take part in a post-match press convention, explaining that “dealing with media questions may be dangerous for athletes’ psychological well being”. She has confronted backlash from this resolution and in the end selected to withdraw from the French Open.
Osaka has since shared that she has suffered “lengthy bouts of melancholy” since 2018 and that she has struggled to manage.
There continues to be stigma round behavioral well being, and that is significantly true in terms of skilled athletics, who face strain to seem bodily and mentally ‘robust’. Osaka bravely took steps to prioritize her psychological well being regardless of the skilled penalties and the expectation that athletes mustn’t present any ‘weak point’.
As a world class tennis participant, Osaka’s willingness to talk overtly about her psychological well being sends a robust message to different athletes that it’s okay to open up and search help. She joins different notable sports activities stars equivalent to Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, who has spoken about his experiences with melancholy and anxiousness, and Seattle Mariners catcher Mike Marjama, who has mentioned his struggles with an Consuming Dysfunction.
Athletes Handled Otherwise for Psychological vs. Bodily Well being
Regardless of this, there are main variations in how the sporting world treats an athlete’s psychological well being in comparison with their bodily well being. For instance, fellow tennis star Roger Federer additionally just lately withdrew from the French Open, in an effort to “take heed to my physique and ensure I don’t push myself too shortly on my street to restoration”, following two knee operations in 2020. Federer’s withdrawal from the championship was classed as an “official medical purpose” and in consequence he was not being fined by the group. Evaluate this to Osaka, who was not solely fined $15,000 however has additionally been described as a ‘diva’ and ‘petulant’ for her resolution to withdraw.
Osaka’s story and expertise highlights the necessity for extra conversations available round psychological well being within the sporting group, particularly given the excessive quantity of strain and expectations athletes sometimes face. There’s a clear have to prioritize behavioral well being by offering help, training and sources round psychological well being for athletes.