In life there are some things you just don’t talk about. In school, you don’t talk about religion; at work, you don’t mention your political views; and in sports, you don’t tell anyone how you feel.
Being an athlete is an extremely rewarding experience. But there are times when the rewards just don’t seem like enough, times when the constant grind seems to overshadow the real reason you play. Don’t you remember, you play because you love it?
In this instance, I am not referring to the physical grind, but rather the mental battles. As college athletes, we have to meet a checklist of expectations. At first glance this list seems fairly reasonable: go to class, get good grades, come to practice, play well, yada, yada, yada. Again, not too bad, right? Oh, I forgot to mention one thing…don’t mess up.
It’s not the teacher’s fault you got back at 2 a.m. from a road trip where you were playing all weekend and you have class six hours later. It’s not your coach’s fault you have two papers and three projects that don’t get your full attention because once class is over you’re at practice until the sun goes down. And it’s not anyone else’s fault but yours that you feel a little stressed out, because no matter how hard you try there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
I can feel your blood pressure rising, but like I said, don’t mess up. You still have boxes to check off.
There are so many people who say they understand. They understand being a student- athlete is tough, they understand the incredible stress that we’re under, they understand were still kids trying our hardest. The truth, though, is no matter how much they genuinely want to understand, they can’t unless they have been there. They can’t unless they’ve laced up the cleats and gone to work.
It is so easy to begin to feel alone, to actually feel like it is your fault that there aren’t enough hours in the day, and to feel like you’re the only one experiencing this. This is where the world of sports fails us. It has created this culture that promotes suppressing feelings by ostracizing those who speak up. To me there is no bigger travesty.
By no means am I trying to play victim. More than anything in the world, I love playing college baseball. And it is true, sometimes love is ugly. But each morning when I get up and my feet hit the floor, I make the conscious decision to give that day my all no matter what it brings. I do this because no matter how I feel, I know that I am not alone and there is something great out there to be had.