Athletes Often Struggle With Mental Health and Being Gay Compounds It

Athletics has always been a huge part of my life, tennis and baseball in particular. From as early as 6 years old, I was ingrained with the importance of having thick skin and being tough in order to be successful in athletics.

Beginning in Little League baseball, I was taught that as a boy in sports I had to “man up” in order to succeed in competition. Signs of weakness and vulnerability were frowned upon and discouraged.

Growing up, I never discussed with anyone the nerve-wrenching bouts of anxiety I would have during many of my baseball games. Nor did I bring up the heart racing, the shaking and lightheadedness I had during tennis matches as I competed in junior tournaments.

I was often afraid of making an error on the baseball field as I worried about how a mistake would be costly for my team. I feared the negative reactions of teammates, coaches and spectators. For me, performing well was as much about avoiding anger as it was receiving approval. I placed unhealthy amounts of self-value on my performance. A bad game could ruin my entire week.