Deep Dive: Mental Health in Sports – Mailbag


Johnny Mambrino, Editor


I know you mainly talked about NBA players but when you look at certain NFL players that mental health clearly took a toll on them for example like Junior Seau when he committed suicide and Brandon Marshall (The WR) who was very familiar with borderline personality disorder and depression. What do you think the NFL can do to help players with their mental illness and get involved before things take a turn for the worst?

Mental health problems are a big problem in every sport and I feel like the NFL and every other sport could start small with players doing weekly check-ins with a team therapist. While this is just a stepping stone I feel like the coaches and other people around the organization can be aware of what’s going on with their players and make sure they are good to go every week, not just physically but also mentally.



Did any specific athletes inspire you to learn more about it? 

Obviously, guys like Kyrie Irving, DeMar Derozan, and Kevin Love have all made headlines the past few years with how they have been feeling and how they have coped with their mental health issues, but also guys like Delonte West who was a great role player for a lot of years playing with guys like LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki. He like a lot of other players have done before lost basically all of his money doing stupid things, and eventually ended up on the streets homeless. It was more than his loss of money that kept him on the streets but also that he had also had his problems with mental health. It just goes to show it can really be anybody.



A coping mechanism for many people with anxiety and stress is marijuana. If players in the NBA and NFL are found high or have weed in their system they get punished. Do you think the NBA and NFL should change their rules/ and or add new things to help players with these problems?

I think Marijuana has been proven to be a great way to help with stress and anxiety but also dealing with nagging injuries. It’s been known to do more harm than good. The coach of the Golden State Warriors, Steve Kerr, talked about how marijuana helped him deal with his back pain. The only negative thing portrayed in sports media with marijuana is that guys are using it but it hasn’t been known to affect players in a negative way. Doctors even use it to help cancer patients. If there is a certain amount of marijuana in someone’s system that is deemed as excessive then there should be a punishment but other than that it helps players mellow out and destress which should not be taken away or mandated to the level it is now.



Have you seen any stories about someone involved with sports that suffer from something? 

Other than the aforementioned guys it was probably Kyrie Irving that really made me more interested in mental health in sports and how he had dealt with his problems was really interesting. I’m not sure if Kyrie has been completely upfront about what issues he’s dealing with specifically but depression definitely comes to mind for me as he has seemed very distant from his teammates at times, not only in Brooklyn now but especially in Boston with the Celtics. It also seems like he’s less interested in basketball and more interested in engaging in off the court activities, such as partying and social issues. It almost feels like he’s treated basketball as a hobby at times when he has to realize there are people counting on him to play at his best ability, but that’s where helping the players cope. However, there’s only so much the teams and league can do if players are being unresponsive, like Kyrie.