More athletes than we realize probably suffer from some sort of mental "game" that affects their on-field performance from time to time. We only see them through the television set as entertainers, so it's easy to miss the fact that humans are playing these games, not robots. In a recent article by Megan Ryan for the Star Tribune, a few cases were examined of just that: professionals who were suffering, only to find some help that turned their game around.
Baseball players, hockey players, and basketball players are just a sample of the professional athletes who work on their mental game beyond what we just think (such as game focus and planning). They focus on their fear of failure, the fight/flight/freeze reaction, and the burdens they each may be carrying with them from their past. These factors can be the difference between balls and strikes, baskets made and missed, and pucks that may or may not find the back of the net, even when the burden may rest miles away from the field.
And yet, some teams still don't employ professionals to handle this type of issue (or at least contract them to help on an as-needed basis). Is it due to the fear these athletes may have in being chastised for admitting their faults or shortcomings? Is it a masculinity issue? Or are they afraid they may lose their jobs?
We may be a far way away from some major breakthroughs in this field, but we've made some significant strides thus far. It would be a shame to refuse to accept these medical findings as valid and important in our athletic journeys.