In light of recent developments in the global sporting community, particularly in gymnastics and tennis, we feel compelled to challenge the narrative that has been created in regard to the young athletes of today. An unhealthy perspective has been gaining traction in conversations and comment sections all while athletes continue to push back and stay their course.
That perspective is “people are soft these days”.
This is of particular favour in the world of sport today. We expect our athletes to be tough, strong, and willing to push through just about anything. We always have and we still do but the tide is turning. What's different now is that we have a generation of athletes who are no longer willing to accept some of the treatment that has been tolerated in the past.
There is no question that the athletes that have participated before us were tough. They had a grit that we celebrated and an ability to push through nearly anything that we highlighted. Unfortunately, what we are learning is that some also had a great deal of pain. They were forced to tolerate behaviour we would never allow our children or young people to experience…outside the world of sport. Behaviours and words that were once commonplace are no longer acceptable or should I say no longer accepted.
The days of yelling at players to get a point across or hazing the new person because we were and that’s simply what happens are over. Athletes are speaking up about their experience and we cannot turn a blind eye. We owe it to our athletes who have worked so hard to entertain us all these years to hear them and, equally as important, to change.
The kids are alright
Going against the norm is never easy. Speaking up when you know you may ruffle some feathers is not done without hesitation. Voicing mistreatment you have experienced is a risk. Sharing your story, being vulnerable, is one of the most difficult things you can do. Opening yourself up to ridicule and criticism takes incredible strength.
People today are not soft. Our young people are taking chances that demonstrate exactly how strong they are. The fact that they are no longer willing to stay silent to conform to the norm is not a show of softness, of someone who can’t take it. It is the behaviour of someone who is putting it all on the line to change what is not okay. That is not the act of someone who is ‘soft’.
A final note
We want to give credit to the individuals and organizations within our community who have started to create that space where athletes can take such risks – our increased attention and awareness have allowed people to come forward where that may not have existed in the past. Thank you to the passionate coaches, athletes, parents, and sport professionals trying to make it easier for athletes to take care of their mental health.
Want to help your athletes but not sure where to start? Connect with us today, we're happy to talk about how you can help your team feel their best.