With the world’s premier gymnast and Britain ‘s best cricketer both speaking out this week about their mental health a clear message is being sent out loud and clear to the rest of us mere humans.
It’s OK to say you’re not OK.
Simone Biles has been withdrawing from individual gymnastics events at the Olympic Games on a daily basis since puling out of the US team competition last week and I doubt she will compete again, at least in Tokyo and possibly ever, while Ben Stokes has stepped back from all cricket activity indefinitely with immediate effect.
In Biles’ case, the weight of expectation (that’s others’ expectations, not her own) seems to be a huge factor while the ginger genius has not given details other than admitting it’s a mental health issue.
The rest is none of our business, but hopefully, anyone who has ever felt they couldn’t admit to struggling mentally feels just that little bit less stigmatised or isolated as a result, because it really can happen to anyone.
The term “concentrate on my mental wellbeing” is a bit misleading because doing that is not a solitary exercise. It requires assistance as the process is fraught with self judgement and fear of other people’s opinions and reactions.
I expect that is even more profound for professional sportsmen and women because of the discipline and belief required to reach and maintain that standard.
If self doubt creeps in they’re lost.
More people experience mental illness than care to admit it. As long as bones break and flesh bruises, so will minds.
The less it’s looked upon as a weakness and permanent stain on the character, the more people will have the confidence to come forward and get the help they need when it’s needed.
It takes guts to do what Simone Biles and Ben Stokes have done this week and they should be applauded for it.
Before I get accused of having a pop, let me say sports broadcasting is not an easy job. I have difficulty talking to people at the best of times so I doubt I could do it.
I am also appalled at how Alex Scott has been targeted on Twitter over her pronunciation (even if “triafalon” did make me wince a wee bit). She and Clare Balding are doing a great job of fronting the daily evening show.
I have a far bigger issue with Michael Johnson’s strange trousers on Saturday evening.
But when it comes to live action, goodness, I miss the golden days of David Coleman, Murray Walker and Motty. They had done their homework, there was no filling of dead air with inanities and even their gaffes were in a class of their own.
That said, embarrassing Olympics commentary of the week comes from the Rugby Sevens, which has to be one of the most pointless sports ever invented (along with skateboarding down a stair rail) for people not quite good enough to survive a 15s game against a proper ears taped to the head, flat nosed front row. (what’s next – Olympic hula hoop?)
Imagine if you will, this gem said with a Kiwi accent: “And this is what Japan is all about – big men offloading.”
Stupid TV quiz answer of the week
Q: Hips Don’t Lie was the last song played on which long running TV show?
Q: Which Disney film features a talking cricket?
And from the new Bradley Walsh/Holly Willoughby show Take Off where contestants had to guess the destination from visual clues.
A grandma and a yellow bird in a cage (Gran…Canary.. Gran Canaria)
Well one woman didn’t. Her answer?
Old woman budgie!