Money and muscles, but they are human

YOUNG athletes are under enormous pressure, beyond the comprehension of most people.
But they’re paid so much money, how can they be depressed and struggling?
This is a pretty common sentiment from the public when it comes to mental illness in ‘well-off’ individuals.
It’s similar to celebrities who struggle with paparazzi, but apparently that’s just what you have to deal with if you’re famous.
It is constant pressure, intrusion and scrutiny. No wonder so many celebrities go off the rails (but those shots are the juiciest aren’t they, Daily Mail?).
In terms of sport where contracts and money talk make the industry go round, it is easy to forget there are human beings underneath those guernseys.
Money does not equal happiness and I think more money means more pressure.
Western Bulldogs forward Tom Boyd, this week, took indefinite leave from footy to deal with clinical depression. This comes a couple of months after Collingwood player Alex Fasolo did the same thing.
The Bulldogs’ premiership player and former Greater Western Sydney draftee is a dominant figure on the football field and towers over most of his opponents.
But what most people forget is that he is 21 years old.
He is just a kid who after one year in the AFL was offered a seven-year contract reported to be worth $7 million.
That offer came when he was 18.
He takes the deal, because who on earth wouldn’t?
And that’s when the pressure and the expectations build and build and build.
But he’s got all that money, right?
All those dollar signs fade pretty quickly when a mental illness takes hold.
I have no doubt that professional sporting clubs would have measures in place to deal with struggling athletes, but is it enough?
I truly hope Bulldogs fans and football fans don’t worry about whether the club will get bang for their buck, and instead worry about a young man getting healthy, whether that involves playing football or not.
A favourite Aussie pastime lately is calling tennis players Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios ‘flogs’… and other things I can’t include here.
The pair are both young men, on an enormous amount of cash, who couldn’t care less about what image they portray.
I don’t think it’s as simple as thinking they are ungrateful punks, but the pressure of their careers, which are their lives, are weighing on them in an extremely destructive way.
Kyrgios was partying with a mystery woman this week… do we need to know this? Absolutely not. The media attention on a 22-year-old kid who (used to) enjoy hitting a ball around a court is ridiculous.
Boys, step away from the game, get yourselves healthy (mentally) and come back firing.
There’s an entire nation ready to claim them as ‘Aussie heroes’, because if we don’t hate our athletes then we apparently adore them.

Jane Kuerschner

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Jane Kuerschner completed a Bachelor of Journalism at the University of South Australia in 2014. She worked as an editorial messenger at The Advertiser before starting as a journalist at the Murray Pioneer. She grew up in Orroroo before completing her high school education and university studies in Adelaide. Jane is passionate about sport and in particular Australian Rules.

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