Athletes face many challenges that the average professional does not face. The life of a professional athlete is a very atypical one that most people could not manage. The challenges and hardships that an athlete encounters are the kind that most of us would be far too overwhelmed by to face. The work can be back breaking and demanding, resulting in injuries and exhaustion. The pressure and expectations that are applied to athletes can be brutal, breaking them down to nothing when they do not perform well. Many athletes are pushed so hard that they do not have a proper stress release and go off the rails. Being a professional athlete is not for the faint of heart.
The work that athletes put forward is incredibly taxing. Training can drain every last drop of energy and stamina out of an athlete, leaving them ragged and depleted. The training scheduled by coaches and managers can take up sixty hours of a week, pushing the athlete close to illness for how physically demanding it is. The toll that this kind of work takes on the body and the brain over time is very heavy.
Injuries are a very real possibility to professional athletes. Every athlete lives with the understanding that serious injuries can happen unexpectedly and can be life changing. In fact, as many as a quarter of professional athletes are forced to retire due to injuries; either traumatic injuries or ones that developed slowly through repetition.
Another immense difficulty that athletes face is the weight of pressure and expectations. These may be applied by managers, coaches, fans, family, peers, an athlete’s competition or the athlete themselves. Regardless of where it originates, with all eyes on the athlete, the burden to carry can become overbearing.
The only way of coping with these challenges is by having a stress release, but in actuality, many athletes have no such thing in their lives. The schedules enforced on them and the demands placed on them do not allow for any kind of stress release, which can lead to severe mental health problems for athletes.
Athletes lead extraordinary lives that many people follow with admiration. Athletes are some of our favorites role models and heroes as children and adults. Whether they are taking home Olympic medals or scoring touchdowns in Super Bowl games, they no doubt have a huge fan following. We admire athletes as much as we do because they represent a life of living out one’s dreams, total dedication and focus, and best of all glory. We all imagine what our lives would have been like if we achieved the glory of a famous athlete.
People of Western cultures have a love affair with living out one’s dreams. The realization of our dreams is of high value to us, more so than in other areas of the world. Living out our dreams means we are the masters of our own destinies and that we are free to pursue that which is of the most value to us. The career of professional athletes is a fiercely competitive one and we are aware that those who have made it as professional athletes are most certainly living out their dreams, which they had to fight vigorously to do. This is part of the reason we have undying admiration for them.
Another reason we esteem athletes so highly is because of how they dedicate themselves completely to their professions – another high value of Western culture. We understand the value of professional focus and dedication thoroughly as a competitive, major world power. We have as much incentive as any nation or region to be the best, and though there are those among us who do not value hard work and dedication, the majority of us esteem it very highly. Our athletes model this value in the dedication they have to their sport.
And lastly, every culture idolizes those who come into glory, who have all eyes on them as they achieve victory. Our athletes do this at a celebrity level, winning competitions and taking home trophies in front of tens of thousands of people live, and many millions watching them through television. We love success stories, recognition of talent and personal glory, which is epitomized through professional sportsmanship.