Athletes Are Humans Too

Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

Athletes Are Humans Too


Athletes Are Humans Too


Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

When it comes to watching sports, we all watch our favorite athletes compete. One thing we don’t really care to notice is these athletes who entertain us, they are human as well. When somebody says athletes are human, it means they are also allowed to have emotions like us, and experience the same things we experience. They are normal human beings but with a unique talent in their respective sport that exceeds most human beings. The first thought when it comes to watching athletes is that these men and women are “obligated to entertain us,” they have a duty to play their sport, which is not entirely true. Yes, they are paid because for them this is their job, but their obligation to fulfill our entertainment when they are injured, or not in the right mentality, is something we must understand and take into account. 


Damar Hamlin Situation

Immediately after Damar Hamlin collapsed in the Buffalo Bills vs. Cincinnati Bengals Monday Night Football Game, you could see the emotion on both the Bills and Bengals players faces, the sight of seeing your teammate, somebody who you practically considered a brother, get resuscitated on the field is definitely not easy. It shouldn’t have taken a tragedy to recognize that these athletes have emotions and are allowed to feel them and process in their own way to recover from something scary like this. One thing that ESPN did a great job in was being able to handle the reactions to what the situation was, especially on live television. The coverage from Lisa Salters, Joe Buck, and the post-game show was what should have been the view from everybody that night. Putting player safety first, and even Joe Buck talking about how the NFL was going to give the players five minutes for a warm up and to get ready. Obviously, the game was not going to be resumed that night, the mental health of not only both teams but the physical health of a player who was playing during that game has to be considered first above all other things. 

When athletes get hurt and have to get carted off the field, we receive relief when we see the reaction of a thumbs up or some sort of sign that they are okay. That night, nobody saw any initial sign that Damar Hamlin was okay, and that meant his teammates did not know if he was going to be okay either. It should not have taken this kind of incident for us to realize that these athletes, who risk their bodies every time they step onto a football field, also can feel the same thing we are feeling, emotionally and physically. It took a courageous effort from both head coaches Zac Taylor and Sean McDermott to say no, my players are not going to continue this game because of the effect this has on them. 

Mental Health 

Currently, the NFL has done a better job at promoting mental health help, and we’ve seen coaches like Pete Carroll be extremely supportive of their players, one specific example being Marcus Smith II. However, there is still a lot of work to continue helping athletes, specifically NFL players. The biggest factor that triggers a type of response from us football fans is social media, with our reactions to what these players say online. We immediately start to think negatively whenever somebody comes out on social media and expresses how they feel, I mean, look at Stefon Diggs. People were quick to criticize Diggs because of how he felt after his team lost in the AFC Divisional Game, but one thing that makes an athlete an athlete is being competitive. Football is a competitive sport, and sometimes going through rough times and not being able to make the jump a team has been fighting for can get into a player’s head, and they let out their frustration. As a former soccer player, I know what it’s like to be frustrated not only with a team, but with yourself. It comes with being in such a competitive environment, and the desire to win will always be the driving factor. 

Stefon Diggs is only one of many who have expressed their disappointment, and he has a point. In one of his tweets, he said, “Want me to be okay with losing? Nah,” another tweet Diggs had said, “Want me to be okay with our level of play when it’s not up to the standard? Nah,”

I mean, we are so quick to judge off of actions rather than take the initial thought of how these players are feeling. Losing constantly will always take a mental toll, but never have we asked ourselves how these players are feeling. Instead, we judge them by what they are saying or doing. It’s a hypocritical thing that unfortunately sports fans have done constantly, I mean you already see how the media tries to bombard players immediately after a game, it’s not just fans. One example is Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back, Giovani Bernard, in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Bernard had a crucial turnover and immediately after the game, ESPN reporter Jenna Laine was quick to put the camera in his face and ask him questions about the fumble. Bernard’s response was “Can I go to my family that I have outside, and all of a sudden now […]” he was cut off by a reporter saying “Don’t say we didn’t talk to you, we just wanted your perspective on what happened […].” One of the biggest challenges that athletes have to face is the media, whether that’s non football related questions, or being asked questions in a rather disrespectful way, it’s something all athletes have to deal with. 

The media is just adding pressure, and bashing on players to get them to react on social media is just another challenge as well. We don’t realize that when we constantly try to patronize players on social media to get them to respond, we only make a fool out of ourselves. Lamar Jackson is another example when it comes to fans bashing on athletes. During the regular season, the Baltimore Ravens lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars, one person had tweeted at Jackson, “Someone asking for over $250 million guaranteed like [Jackson] playing games like this should not come down to [kicker Justin Tucker].” The person added, “Let Lamar walk and spend that money on a well-rounded team.” This obviously caused Jackson to snap based on his tweets, but this season the Ravens have been trying to negotiate with him for a new contract, and one of the biggest things Jackson wants is guaranteed money. One thing that instantly was reported was the vulgar language used by Jackson, and since Lamar Jackson is a star athlete in the NFL, we put higher standards on well-known athletes to be a better role model. 

Yes, Lamar Jackson probably shouldn’t have said what he said, but like us regular people, he was mad and that’s just part of being a human. Football fans always place a higher standard on the top athletes, and it’s not just football where sports fans place higher expectations on athletes. We see it in soccer, basketball, we saw it in the Olympics with Simone Biles. Sports in general has taken a leap in putting the mental health of these athletes first, but as people who watch these sports, we have yet to acknowledge that these athletes experience the same things we do. 



Being an athlete comes with many harsh factors. The chip on your shoulder of not wanting to let anybody down, the feeling of wanting to always win, the pressure of wanting to be the best. I think the most recent relatable event that happened was the unfortunate issue Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen went through with a divorce, and something like that happens in the everyday world and people can relate to it. However, we shouldn’t be shocked by what these athletes feel or do, especially since they are human just like us and can experience the same things we do every day. The media, social media, and us fans have done a terrible job at respecting athletes’ privacy and their choices. We need to stop being hypocritical and instead realize that even though these athletes have a better “social status” than the normal population, that doesn’t mean they can’t experience certain emotions, have fun, or do something without cameras being shoved in their face. We have to respect every athlete no matter what because they are like us at the end of the day. 


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