Anxiety and Sports

By Anonymous - Posted on 27 October 2013

Joey Votto












Anxiety-fear or nervousness of what might happen

Anxiety Attack-a sudden acute episode of intense anxiety and feelings of panic

Depression-a serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live a normal way


Above are three things that I would never wish upon anyone. Unfortunately for me, they are the only things I have in common with guys like Zack Greinke, Aubrey Huff, Joey Votto, Dontrelle Willis, Jake Arrieta, Royce White, and many more athletes who suffer from anxiety and depression. 

Many more athletes who I didn't list also suffer from the same things. Like concussions, we don't physically see anything wrong with them, but inside their head is where everything is going on. They could look completely fine on the outside, but inside they are breaking down in agony. Most fans don't understand the concept of it and usually just think athletes can just "suck it up", but there is so much more to it than just that. 

The best example of that is with NBA player Royce White, the Houston Rockets' first round draft pick in 2012. During that season, White played zero games for the Rockets due to him refusing to fly with the team when they went on the road; flying being one of his biggest fears stemming from his anxiety. This prompted the team to suspend him, and traded him to the Philadelphia 76ers after the season. Many fans and media personnel came out saying that White needs to "suck it up" and "stop being a headcase", which are both completely wrong things to say when dealing with these kinds of situations. 

For Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke, Reds first baseman Joey Votto, and former Orioles designated hitter Aubrey Huff, their anxiety lead them to being placed on the 15 day disabled list. Specifically for Greinke, he missed all of 2006 due to it, and almost quit baseball all together. During the 2012 season, Aubrey Huff went through an period where he felt like he "couldn't breathe" and felt like he was having a heart attack. For Joey Votto, his anxiety and depression spouted due to the loss of his father in August of 2008. He said that, "there were nights that I couldn't be alone; the one night I was alone, the very first night that I was alone, was when I went to the hospital. I couldn't take it. It just got to the point where I felt I was going to die."

I know exactly how these players felt, because I've been in similar situations. As someone who has suffered anxiety attacks, I would never wish them up anyone...not even my biggest enemy. They are some of the scariest things that can ever occur to you, because when it strikes for the first time, you have no idea what is going on. 

For me, my first known one was on June 1st, 2013. I'll never forget that date, ever. That previous week, I had went to two Orioles games which resulted in wins and went on a school field trip to New York City (where I gladly repped an O's shirt). But, on June 1st was my SAT, a test that can determine if you can get into college. First off, I had forgotten things I needed to correctly I.D. myself in order to enter the room to even take the test. Secondly, I had to wait 15 minutes for my dad to drop off said I.D., which felt like an eternity. And finally, when I did sit down in the classroom, all eyes were on me as I entered and quietly sat down and got ready to take the test. 

But, once I was starting to get ready to take it, I sensed something was wrong. My hands started shaking, I was sweating more than I ever have without doing anything to provoke it, and I couldn't focus on one thing at all. As many of you know, you have to write a paragraph in cursive before you start the SAT, and since I was shaking so bad, it looked like someone who has never seen cursive wrote it. 

Somehow I survived and later found out that I received a 1260 on the test. When I got home, I had looked up the things that were happening to me and I eventually found out what had happened. Later on through the summer, I found myself staying up late and having these panic attacks and not even knowing why they would start. 

As summer went on, I noticed that I started to get them at Orioles game too. Why should I have to suffer something at my favorite place in the world? Well, long story short, I found out that I had MDD, otherwise known as major depression disorder, which is a fancy way of saying "clinical depression." It is something I am in therapy for now and I am progressing in it, but my anxiety still remains with me. Every social situation is a basic nightmare for me still, with just the anticipation that something will go wrong and embarrassment from me will occur. 

With all of that being said, it is a way I can relate to these athletes, even if it is a strange way to relate to them. I feel like I have to defend them more than any other athlete out there, because we have such a weird connection, even though we don't choose it. There is one thing that I ask everybody that reads this to do for me. If you see any of the guys I mentioned above at a sporting event, like Greinke, Arrieta or Votto, give them support even if you're rooting against their team. Those three are definitely in my book of people I hope to meet with at games next season. Just be kind to everyone you meet because you don't know what they're going through, and don't be so quick to hate on athletes because they have a mental issue.