Sports are enjoyed by most Americans, and for a good reason. Not only are the games exciting, the outcomes sometimes surprising, but they are usually backed by some larger than life players many whom have personalities that matched their athletic prowess and quickly become household names.

Because of the stardom of many sports players, it can sometimes be hard to see them as anything more than sports gods, which is definitely a shame. All of these players are human, and they should be humanized whenever possible. Sports has a secret, and that secret is that many of the players have mental health problems.

It can be hard to see that at first, but the more you think about it, the more you realize how valid it is. Here are a few reasons why.

Professional Athletes Are Always Being Scrutinized
When you’re a sports player, every move you make, on the field or off, is under scrutiny. If you fail to score a free-throw then you’re seen as a disappointment not just in your own eyes, but millions of others. You make it up to the finals, only to lose, and you’ve let down your fans. You strike out, and the team is booing at you. There is a constant pressure to perform, and 99% of the time, it’s pressure from people who can’t do what the athletes do.

And it’s not just professionals, college players have a lot of pressure too. Players on teams that compete in March Madness are often seen crying and breaking down after the game.  The tournament starts with 64 teams, but there’s only room for one winner. That’s a lot of tears and dashed hopes.

Nonetheless, it can have a massive impact on one’s mental health.

Not to mention, the personal lives of many of these players are under scrutiny. These players are celebrities, so many of them will be chased around by the media and it can be hard to catch a break, which is always important in mental health. Their friends and families are bothered as well, which can be stressful for them.

Constantly Working

A sports star’s job is never done. They spend their time practicing, training, and playing games on season and off season. It isn’t just a persistent physical exertion, but it directly correlates to their personal life and mental well-being. Basketball players don’t even have Christmas off. Some may not get the sleep they need and may turn to steroids and other drugs to keep them at their peak. Many of the players will not get the mental relaxation they need, which is always a bad thing.

They Need to Look Strong

Perhaps another reason why many players are mentally unwell is that they have to keep their emotions bottled in. The public sees them as strong and levelheaded. After all, sports are associated with masculinity.

Kids and even adults see them as superheroes and without a flaw. This is a problem with the public at large who don’t know that the all stars are humans just like everyone else.

It’s okay for NFL and NBA players to express their emotions and show a time of vulnerability, but it’s usually only when they lose. Otherwise there’s a strong fear of looking weak. Even so, Michael Jordan has talked a lot about his failures and insecurities and how that made him an ideal player in the end. This is what more people need to realize.

Mental Health Options Aren’t That Good

Many of these teams don’t have good options when it comes to mental healthcare. While a superstar basketball player can easily afford a counselor, there are few who are trained to empathize. Many players need to have mental health treatment just like you and me. The one league that has taken this seriously is the NBA. They have created a department and website dedicated to the health of their players.

There is No Shame in Counseling
Whether you’re a superstar player or someone who is just needing some mental health treatment, don’t ever hesitate to seek help if you need to.

Luckily for a traveling person like a sports star, there are plenty of online options that can keep up with someone’s busy lifestyle. Sites like Regain can help you if you’re down and can provide the counseling you need.

So the next time you get too angry at a player for missing their shot, remember that they are human and mistakes do happen.