This took me several weeks to upload because I wanted to be sure I was taking the right angle by getting the real story. As accurate as possible. Also our professional life took a pivot around the same time as I started writing this, and I found myself with zero time to blog.
So although this particular story may be a bit outdated, the topic of mental illness never is.
With that said, here we go:
Last month Andrew Luck, quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, abruptly announced his retirement from the sport.
And some Colts fans lost their minds. Luck was actually booed off the field after a preseason game as word spread of his impending announcement.
And that really pisses me off.
Some theorize that there was booing because the commentators made the announcement prior to Luck’s official statement slated for after the game. So the booing could have been directed at them.
While others theorize that fans were angry that he chose to no longer be on the team and that will hurt the Colts and put them further away from the Superbowl this year. Or that the Colts had done him dirty by never letting him have adequate coverage.
The facts appear to be that Luck has been so injured in the last few seasons that it was starting to affect his mental health. And so he made the choice, instead of earning millions of dollars playing football, to retire and spend time with his family and let his body truly heal.
The issue of mental health is not something that is regularly discussed in the arena of professional sports. The emphasis is mostly on one’s physical health and the ability to win games. So the thought that Luck is retiring to focus on his mental health is groundbreaking.
And I’m here for it.
For the first time that I can remember, and I may be forgetting a few instances, a professional athlete is walking away from the sport and job they love to concentrate in part on their mental health. Although it’s entirely possible that reason has been buried under the guise of, “stepping back from my career to spend more time with my family.”
And it’s sad that the real reason is hidden due to the stigma mental illness still has in our society.
But I get it because talking about mental illness isn’t fun. It’s messy and awkward and uncomfortable. I know because I’ve been living with mental illness since high school. And with anything in life, there are highs and lows.
At one point recently when I was between jobs, I experienced a mental breakdown so severe that at one point I had to be monitored for 24 hours. And I’m not a high profile person, so I can’t begin to imagine the amount of pressure and stress Luck was under.
And making the choice to quit the sport and job that you love is bad enough, but when it’s met with boos and criticism, that makes things even harder. And can actually have the opposite effect of pushing the person further down the spiral of mental illness to the point where they want to end their life.
Because they aren’t meeting up with others expectations.
And that can make some people spiral back down to the pit of depression and suicidal thoughts.
So maybe instead of booing Luck off the field, we all need to stand up and applaud. Applaud his decision to forgo millions of dollars to work on his mental and physical health. Applaud his decision to focus more time on his family.
And wish him good luck.