Urban Meyer is one of the best football coaches of our generation, but he cares more about the mental health of his players than what happens on the football field.
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What is health? How does one’s health relate to sports and daily life in general?
You might be surprised at what keeps Urban Meyer up at night. Is it the thought of traditionally tough Big Ten Defenses, Michigan and Penn State? Is it thinking about he is going to out-recruit the dynasty at Alabama and the upcoming super power of Clemson? You might be surprised to know that none of these are what keeps him up at night.
Meyer says the thought of how to help his players and their mental health is what keeps him up counting sheep. He told Sports Illustrated earlier this year, “It’s probably 80-20 now… When I was younger it was probably 30-70 more football”. Meyer puts a strong emphasis on depression/anxiety, and how he can help his players with these issues.
Meyer has suffered himself.
The first thing that comes to mind when you think about football is “toughness”. There is a unit of men, banging heads, in what could be known as the toughest sport physically in the world. The last thing you probably think about is the mental health of the players. Mental health was known as taboo in sports, until recently when you have had prominent athletes such as Kevin Love and Demar Derozan speak about depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.
Players such as Ohio State’s Robert Landers have been outspoken about mental health, and athletes have made it known that no person is prone to avoid mental health struggles, and that mental health is a priority. Your mental well-being does not make you weak, and that’s what athletes have been trying to make clear.
Coach Meyer has taken measurements such as “Real Life Wednesdays” where players discuss issues they deal with ranging from life after football, to mental health struggles such as anxiety and depression. The Ohio State football team lets each other know that no one is alone, and that everyone is fighting a battle that people know little about.
In the process of this, Ohio State has tried to break the mental health taboo in sports. In doing so, it reminds us that every person — including athletes — go through tough times. However, it is important that people are given the platform to speak about their struggles and realize that those same struggles do not make them weak. If anything adversity in life makes them stronger by working through tough times and coming out the other side.
Urban Meyer’s “Real Life Wednesdays” have made clear that no woman or man is an island, (including athletes), and no one is alone through their struggles regardless of the perception that society has created.