Throughout history, from Ancient Rome to the present day, sport has been used by the public as a distraction from important daily issues.
By a celebrating a goal, lamenting a dropped catch or cheering on a drive for the try line, troubles can disappear for a short period of time.
However, with the development of 24-hour news media and professional sport as a business, athletes and coaches have been subjected to increased pressure to succeed. This has led to social problems such as mental health becoming more common in the sporting arena.
In the past twelve months, there have been several high-profile athletes from a variety of sports such as basketball, cricket and football who have been diagnosed with mental health issues.
Despite being provided with regular health checkups, athletes unlike the ordinary citizen are not provided with a fixed period for rest and recuperation.
Often, athletes are subjected to a schedule of constant competition. For example, the 2013/14 English Premier League seasons finishes on the 11 May 2014, players who are then picked for the national teams will be in training and play in warm-up games for the upcoming World Cup that starts on 12 June 2014 and finishes on 13 July 2014 (if your country reaches the final).
Players will then return to their clubs and embark on a pre-season tour before the start of the 2014/15 English Premier League season on 16 August 2014.
Football is not the only sport.
The England cricket team from November 2013 to the end of summer 2014 will face Australia away in five Test matches, five One Day Internationals (ODI) and three twenty20s, will tour the West Indies and play three ODIs and three twenty20s, play the Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh, play Sri Lanka at home in two Tests, five ODIs and one Twenty20 and finally play India at home in five Tests, five ODIs and one twenty20, which is on 7 September 2014.
All of which is absent from home and their families. This can lead to periods of intense stress and anxiety as shown in Michael Yardy’s withdrawal from the 2011 World Cup in India and the recent departure of Jonathon Trott from England’s Ashes squad.
As a result of the intense pressure, athletes have turned to external measures to deal with the problem.
Drugs and alcohol are the main solutions.
Speaking to the Otago Daily Times, New Zealand cricketer Lou Vincent, who suffered from mental health issues, stated: "you tend to rely on alcohol and, I don't feel comfortable saying the other things, to suppress the feelings of reality".
Vincent, used to alcohol to deal with anxiety, when he was alone away from the dressing room, other athletes such as basketball player Lamar Odom turned to drugs to deal with mental health issues after he was traded from his beloved LA Lakers to the Dallas Mavericks.
The intensity associated with sport may satisfy the masses but is not benefiting the well being of sportsmen and women.
Unlike the majority of the population, athletes do not have the opportunity to remove pressure from their everyday lives.
This could lead to more cases of bullying similar to that currently in the NFL.
Therefore, the governing bodies of each individual sport should be prepared to decrease fixture lists and implement more tests for mental health.
Although, sportsmen and women do not gain sympathy with the general public, due to their ludicrous wages and exuberant lifestyle, they are human and still needed to be cared for.
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