Friday, July 03, 2009

Mental Health and MLB


Roy asked me to post about this article, by Shirley Wang,
from the Wall Street Journal:
Professional Baseball Faces Loaded Problem: Mental Health

The article starts by talking about the fact that there are three Major League Baseball players on the Disabled List (the D-L) for anxiety. It goes on to talk about 'butterflies' and golfers' 'yips.' It names some professional athletes who've suffered from other mental health issues, and there is talk of pitchers who suddenly couldn't throw. The players, apparently, have access to a counselor.

What don't I like about the article? Somehow, I read it and had the flavor that these players are disabled by anxiety from the stress of their profession and the performance demands...the article ends with a psychologist being quoted as saying that anxiety is normal.

My best guess...and I don't know these players and have never examined them....is that there is more to it than stage fright, or the pressure of the biz. When you're getting paid what these guys get, I don't think they let you bow out and go on the D-L because you're job's too much and you get butterflies in front of the crowd. By the time you're on the D-L, the mental health issue is probably quite disabling, and not the normal or expectable anxiety that goes along with jitters and yips. And I can't imagine that professional sportsmen are any less vulnerable than the rest of the population to mental health issues.