With Junior Seau’s death officially being ruled a suicide, I feel this is a subject that we all need to address as a community and as lovers of sport. I remember watching a Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel episode earlier this year on the NHL Enforcer suicides last summer in relation to head trauma and depression. Regardless of how the science on this matter will build over the next several years and decades, I want to discuss what our impact, as fans, has on a players’ mentality & emotional health.
These individuals live on a different level in life that most of us will never understand or experience. For NFL teams as an example, there is a maximum of 53 players on an active roster at any given time. That means that only 53 people will go on to win the Super Bowl…. 53 people along with a team of managers, support staff, and a league of fans. The pressure these guys must feel to perform and succeed has to be immense. You are responsible for making people (including your boss) lots of money, for making countless of fans happy, and for (most importantly in my opinion) self-actualizing your own dreams in life.
Let’s look at the life of Junior Seau… the man was unbelievably successful in his career— a 10-time All-Pro linebacker & a 12-time selection for the Pro-Bowl. So what went wrong? Where did he find himself in life where suicide was the only option out? I would like to get back to the art of his profession and what it really means to be a performer in professional sports.
You see, Junior was on a stage for all of us, a public forum displaying all of his talents for the greater good of others. We all remember Junior’s fist-pumping dances in celebration… this was as much for him as it was for Charger nation. Performance is always a circular passing of appreciation. The artist gives to it’s audience & the audience responds to the artist through support and praise.
That being said, as fans we are essentially the fuel that gives the players life, that fuel that feeds motivation & drive. It’s a beautiful circle for players when in this moment but what can we do as fans to continue to show this appreciation even after the glory days have passed? When a new banner is raised to a younger, more eager class of “artists” approaching on the horizon. None of us ever want to feel that our time in life has passed, I ask that you put yourself in the shoes of these on-field “artists” and imagine that time, the end, has arrived.
There will always be a last play, a last quarter, a last throw, pass, tackle, end-zone dance, etc…. as much as we don’t want it to ever end, as fans, our heartbreak is quickly replaced by the new kid in town or the next, great prospect on the horizon. What we forget is there is a real person at the other end of that heartbreak left to pick up the pieces of a career that is always gone too soon. One generation’s hero and the next generation’s forgotten solider.
I can never put myself in Junior Seau’s shoes but with a guy that seemingly had it all less than a decade ago to die way before his time at the hands of himself….something went terribly wrong. Let us not forget the guys that paved the way for those who play on the sports “stages” now, let’s us continue to show our support as fans & a community because these guys give their lives to making our Sunday evenings a little more enjoyable, for making playoff season one of the most exciting times of the year, and for giving us something to talk about on Monday mornings in the break room. Thank you sport’s “artists,” thank you retired players, & thank you Junior Seau…. may you rest in peace.
The host for RaleighLifestyle.TV, a web-based TV service in Raleigh, N.C. , Amanda recently relocated to NYC to pursue a career in Sports Broadcasting / Media bringing. Amanda brings her talents and passion for sports to RotoXxperts, sharing her thoughts and opinions with you. You may contact Amanda directly at amandabusick.com or follow her on Twitter @AmandaBusick