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.