By Charles Glover, Jr.
Athletes are often revered for their exceptional physical gifts and spectacular performances, yet many athletes are less successful in conquering their emotional issues and the subsequent struggles that accompany those problems. Alcoholism, drug abuse and violent outbursts are symptoms of unresolved emotional issues that unfortunately have troubled many revered athletes across the vast sports landscape.
Whether its retired boxer Mike Tyson, former NBA star Allen Iverson and Lamar Odom, who has no current NBA team, there are many athletes who have had prolonged public battles with emotional issues.
There is still a large segment of the population that believes that seeking help for emotional issues should still be reserved for extreme cases only. The same belief often exists when dealing with drug and alcohol problems as well.
The result of this unhelpful attitude towards mental and emotional health are the numerous are seen in questionable conduct shown by troubled athletes. Mike Tyson, Dwight Gooden, JaMarcus Russell, Tanya Harding, and current NBA players Lamar Odom and Michael Beasley have all had brushes with infamy due to untreated issues. The recurring theme of legal, financial and personal struggles that these athletes have experienced has a direct link to their approach to addressing their myriad of emotional issues.
There is no guarantee that addressing emotional issues will result in complete recovery. in fact, it is likely there will be relapses because relapse is a part of the recovery process. Oscar De La Hoya had to admit himself into rehab for his continued struggle with recovering from drug abuse. Jason Kidd is largely past the issues that landed him in trouble with the law. However, Kidd was arrested for suspicion of DUI during last year’s NBA off-season. Emotional issues are commonly dealt with by excessive drug and alcohol abuse as sufferers have not been able to find a productive manner in which to cope with their issues.
With the prominence of social media and the constant news cycle, athletes have an extremely difficult time hiding their emotional struggles when begin to unravel. This summer has been less than kind to Lamar Odom as his struggles with drug abuse resurfaced. But his refusal to engage in sustained treatment by checking himself out of rehab after only one day demonstrates a level of denial that will continue to fuel his struggles. However, there are examples of athletes who seem to be gaining a better understanding of how to cope with challenges.
A recent episode of “Iyanla, Fix My Life” featured Chamika Holdsclaw, former WNBA and women’s college basketball star. The show gave a glimpse into Holdsclaw’s internal scars as viewers watched her begin to learn to accept her past and gain tools on how to improve her future. Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest) was known for his numerous outbursts in the past. Now, he often acknowledges the benefit of his therapist and readily spreads the word of how effective therapy can be.
There’s cause for optimism for affected athletes because of the varying success stories of recovery from emotional turmoil. Michael Irvin faced public scrutiny for his substance abuse problems during his NFL career. He has overcome those issues to have a successful career as an analyst.
Andre Agassi’s substance abuse problems threatened to derail a thriving tennis career until successful rehabilitation allowed him to rebound and have a resounding professional and personal revival. Herschel Walker was often described as angry and aloof while playing in the NFL. He was diagnosed with Dis-associative Identity Disorder, also known as multiple personality disorder. After the diagnosis, Walker gained greater clarity and understanding, leading to multiple successful business ventures including a food service company, an appearance on NBC’s Apprentice, and a brief career in mixed martial arts.
All struggles are different and any degree of success is helpful when acknowledged. Rookie NFL player Tyrann Mathieu made headlines last year when he was dismissed from LSU after multiple failed drug tests. Mathieu has been able to rehabilitate his image and revive his career with the help of John Lucas II, president of John Lucas Enterprises, a network of drug treatment centers that mostly features athletes as clients.
Essentially, the best way to ensure that current and future athletes get the help they need to address their emotional concerns is to shift the narrative. Lucas, who once faced serious substance abuse problems while playing in the NBA, is a prime example of an athlete recognizing the importance of addressing the negative results of untreated emotional issues. If more athletes attach the same vigor, and diligence to their emotional and mental health as they do to their physical health and abilities, there will be more comprehensive success stories. When that happens, athletes will experience success in multiple areas of their lives which will allow them to be their complete best. – Onpointpress.net
Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant.