Mental Health in the NBA
Is it weird to think that just a few years ago Social Media didn’t exist? The Instagram app was launched on October 6th 2010 and in the last 11 years, it has become one of the most influential apps out there. Not only can you share with friends and family, but this app has evolved into helping entrepreneurs with their businesses. As a result of the size, studies are being conducted to evaluate how detrimental this app can be to mental health. I want to spark a conversation about Mental Health in the NBA. Multiple leagues have taken this seriously the past few years in how they handle players speaking up of their mental health battles. Some NBA Players have been vocal about their issues and hope this article sparks a conversation. Instagram and the NBA are hear to stay, but at what cost.
Exposure: Good or Bad?
Platforms like Overtime, Slam and Ball is Life have created their own market in the basketball world. They follow young talented players and build a loyal following from people. Tyler Herro and Trae Young were dropping 40 point games in high school before they were in the league. They were also being heckled, booed, and hearing chants of being “Overrated”. The exposure for young players is bigger than ever, but that is also impacting the game in a negative way. The stress of being seen all over the world and reading what everyone says impacts a players overall self-esteem.
Nowhere to hide
Anyone that saw the Last Dance documentary understands how Michael had to deal with fans and the media. Imagine if Instagram or Snapchat was around when the MJ boom happened. The guy couldn’t have a meal on his own and if you would’ve put a cell phone in peoples hand, I don’t believe he would’ve stepped out of his driveway. This the pressure that players face now. Every step you take someone can be watching you and recording the moment you leave your house.
Social Pressure becomes Mental
For anyone trying to make it to the league, you must learn to navigate the pressure of the media. It is part of the reason why NBA players make so much money. This sport becomes a business quickly when you are young and talented. Now everyone in the crowd is a cameraman and a critic. Sports Center and Newspapers were the only way to get information before social media. If you had a bad game, you were able to drown out some of the noise while you drove home from a game. With social media, the moment a player walks though the locker room door he can see what the entire world has to say in the palm of his hands. It is sad to think that fans are unappreciative of professionals who work hard and sacrifice so much to reach their dream, just so we can tear them down with our phones.
Mental Health vs Hoop Dreams!
At the end of the day, most players don’t make it to the NBA and majority of players, are just kids playing a game. I hope that players can find peace and love as they chase their dream. Players with experience in the new era should become mentors for this new generation to help navigate this new world. It is important to support the dreams of these young players and keep their mind focused on the Hoop Dream.
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