by Matt Weik
I think we need to have a discussion about mental health and mental strength when it comes to athletes (all professional athletes, not just specifically bodybuilders and fitness competitors based on the content of this website).
We have seen a lot of news and opinions about the Olympics and even some other professional sporting events that have been going on in the past few months where athletes have withdrawn from competing for psychological reasons. Even the mainstream media have mixed opinions. But who are they who cast doubts about someone’s mental health and stability?
Well, we would be naive to say that there won’t be people on either side of the fence who either consider themselves strong to step back or, on the other side of the equation, weak to withdraw. There are many people who support the athlete’s decision to take some time off while others suddenly want to toss these champions under the bus like they’re a bum who has never accomplished anything in his career.
Mental health vs. mental toughness
To start with, let’s define exactly what these two things are. According to the dictionary:
Mental health – a person’s state of mental and emotional well-being.
Mental strength – A quality of mind or intellect that is characterized, among other things, by a refusal to be intimidated, the determination to end a competition even when times are bad, and the ability to control emotions and remain highly concentrated under the pressure of intense competition , excels.
Aside from the sense of emotion associated with both of them, despite all of this, there is no overlap between them, so we need to look at each of them independently and treat them as two separate entities.
Just because someone is mentally strong doesn’t mean they can’t have some type of mental illness. They are not “immune” just because they are or what they do. You are under enormous pressure, not just from a sporting point of view.
Do you think for a minute that the athletes we saw who withdrew from competition got to where they are on a professional stage and platform without being mentally strong? It would be crazy to think that they weren’t mentally strong.
But I think we have to look at something here.
Who the hell are you to judge an athlete’s mental state?
I bet 99% of the people reading this article have never been and never will be a professional athlete. So if you haven’t been on the same stage with these athletes, who the hell are you to judge for taking a step back to focus on their sanity?
I see so much hatred for these athletes who they call climbers and that they are not tough enough, blah blah blah. Do you think they would really stop doing what they love and compete at the highest level? I do not think so. They’ve trained for this all their lives, so why stop now if nothing went wrong? It makes no sense.
All these keyboard warriors in their mother’s basement come out of the woods talking about something they have no idea about. They have never been so good at anything that they can sum up their name and “pro” in one sentence. The majority of these “johnnyhotpants69” internet users can barely rub two nickel against each other. So honestly, who cares if they don’t even have a leg to stand on?
They are professional athletes … do you REALLY think they would go on bail?
The athletes who step back and withdraw from events come to the most prestigious events of all time. We’re talking about Wimbledon, the Olympic Games, the list goes on and on. These are platforms that every athlete dreams of. Do you think they make this decision easily? No. Something has to go wrong in their head for them to withdraw.
With everything that happens around the world today, can we really say that people are fine and just get on with their lives? You have the pandemic, stay home ordered, people have to mask themselves, wear two masks, put your underwear on, people get sick, people die, the list goes on and on. At these professional stages, they are constantly being tested, retested, quarantined, masked, unmasked, put back on. I mean, we live in the twilight zone these days. You can’t even make up for half the madness that’s going on today. It’s like something straight out of a movie.
Are you perfect
We all need to sit back and stop analyzing these athletes to take the time to deal with what they are going through. They are always in the spotlight and everyone expects them to be “on” all the time, like they are superhuman. You are not. They are people like all of us.
Perhaps we all need to sit back and think about what mental health and mental strength mean to us as individuals. If you can see through everything that’s going on in your life, that’s great. But if you don’t let it, what are the alternatives or possible consequences? We have seen bodybuilders in our own industry who have taken their own lives over the years fighting their own demons. It is time to let these athletes normal instead of trying to keep them to a different standard.