With no NFL games this weekend (yes, there was the Pro Bowl), and no NHL games (again, yes, there was the All-Star game), Sidelines is going to take a different twist this week.
Before we get into the new stuff, let’s discuss All-Star games and weekends. I don’t like them, I find them pointless, and sometimes they become straight up silly when players are goofing around. We know there are a lot of talented players in professional sports, but part of the enjoyment of professional sports is seeing the best players in the world on a team where they create the magic. No Stanley Cup final or Super Bowl roster will ever be stacked like an All-Star roster. I have an appreciation for the game being played between two teams with seemingly similar rosters, who have to battle it out from start to finish. I think all star weekends take away from our enjoyment of the part of the sport we love, which is watching our favourite teams compete night in and night out.
As I was scrolling through twitter on Monday morning at 4:30a.m when I woke up, one of the first tweets I saw was an article from CBC about women in coaching. On February 1, the #SheCanCoach campaign is set to begin, a campaign that aims to fight the idea that women cannot coach. According to the CBC article, the Coaches Association of Ontario reports that only 30% of all coaches in Ontario are women.
I think this is a great initiative, to support female coaches in all sports, as assistant coaches and head coaches, both in boys sports and girls sports. In female sports especially, it’s important for young girls to see that they too can coach, that they can be in a leadership position, and can be “the boss”. It’s not just about sports, it’s important for young girls to see that women can be in charge, that a woman who is great at what she does will earn the position she deserves.
Lets talk briefly about mental health. Though below, our sports staff have shared their thoughts on the importance of prioritizing mental health, I wanted to discuss it a bit more with Sidelines. For many athletes, playing sports can add unwanted stress and anxiety, the pressure of producing results on the field, court, or the ice can become too much. This ties into last weeks Sidelines. Make sure that when kids are young they are enjoying the sports they are playing, and that they aren’t being forced into highly competitive sports too soon.
10-and-under soccer and peewee hockey, elementary school basketball — yes, competing is fun and it is part of climbing the ladder of youth sport. However, remember that all youth athletes also must balance school, friends, family, home responsibilities, and likely other sport commitments as well.
As Mike Babcock has said,”mental illness has nothing to do with mental toughness” and he’s right on the money. So many athletes at the high school age, college age, and beyond hide injuries or how they’re feeling because they have been taught that mental toughness is hiding those things and putting the game first. As teammates, classmates, and friends, we all have a job to do to make sure the people around us are okay and that they have someone to talk to.
We all have a responsibility to work towards ending the stigma around mental health. It isn’t easy for everyone to talk about what’s going on in their life, and it’s especially difficult to talk about something that other people make a joke of. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health diseases are real and there is likely someone around us who is struggling with one of these things. #BellLetsTalk is a great initiative, and it gets the conversation going, but we need to keep the conversation going 365 days a year. Help end the stigma.
Obviously mental health is an important topic in the world today, and there are many steps being taken in the right direction to get rid of the stigma surrounding the issue. #BellLetsTalk has been a great initiative to raise awareness, and the participation seems to be growing every year which shows that things are continually getting better.
Mental health has impacted each of us or someone close to us in some way. Having lost someone close to me through mental health has made me realize that the only way to be a better me or help others is to talk. However, that is the hardest part and a day like #BellLetsTalk is just the start. I second Izzy’s statement of continuing the conversation for 365 days, because everyone’s mental health is important – so let’s talk.