Mental Health & Professional Sport – The Case of Royce White (creative response)

In the world of professional sport, each of the four major professional leagues in North America continue to improve awareness regarding the physical health of their athletes, whether it be based on their current state or the longterm effects of injuries associated with the game. For example, it is clear that the National Football League and the National Hockey League are making a concerned effort to improve the safety of their game based on the increased knowledge regarding the effects of concussions. When observing the awareness associated with the mental health of these athletes, it is evident that the four major leagues do not value its importance, which is reflected in the policies located in their respective collective bargaining agreements.

This USA Today article focuses on the unique case of Royce White, who at the time was a rookie in the National Basketball Association playing for the Houston Rockets. White has made it publicly known that he suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which results in an intense fear of flying among other things. This could pose as a serious problem for a professional athlete who spends a great deal of time flying across the country for various games. White stated that he would take part in team activities as long as a proper mental health protocol was established that would help mediate the effects of his mental illness. No such agreement was made between the Rockets and White and he was eventually traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.

When reflecting on the current state of mental health awareness in professional sport, it is clear that a larger effort must be made to protect the players. In order for this to be accomplished, more athletes like White must speak out. This could be the largest obstacle in the promotion of mental health awareness. The negative stigma associated with mental illness describes someone who is weak or somehow less of a man, which is the opposite of how every professional athlete wants to be perceived by the outside world as well as their peers.

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2 Responses to Mental Health & Professional Sport – The Case of Royce White (creative response)

  1. danmckeen says:

    I think mental health a major health field that actually needs more studies to be conducted to further understand. This example of Generalized Anxiety Disorder is very serious for a professional athlete, and I feel there must be more athletes who have this health disorder. I think it’s extremely disrespectful of the Rockets to not help in this situation, and then trade him (I’m not sure if that was a reason as to why he was traded or not). I think situations beyond concussions and the mental health problems associated from concussions is a big step that never did exist for NHL players years ago, but there definitely needs to be more athletes speaking up, and more policies in place to help the athletes with mental health disorders out.

  2. mollymchardy says:

    I agree with you about more needing to be done by the major sport leagues, and having athletes speak out about this issue. I know that Bell has a campaign ‘Lets Talk’ to bring awareness and they had players from the montreal canadiens participate by tweeting and being in the videos. I also think that more athletes should speak out if they do have an illness, like you said, it would help to eliminate the negativity associated with it which will benefit not only help other athletes but regular people as well.

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