Negativity and bullying are never place in sports, but it’s unavoidable and will happen. So, the athlete needs to be prepared and trained to deal with it effectively. Professional athletes have sports psychologists to help them with focus, concentration, technique, and mental health.
Someone from the stands recently heckled Naomi Osaka. The words “You suck” were yelled at her at the Indian Wells Masters tennis tournament during a second-round loss. This caused her to cry and become emotionally distraught.
Instead of being hurt by the situation, Naomi should ask herself whether she really sucks being a four-time grand slam champion and previous number one ranking. She made the WTA as cream of the crop into professional tennis, and that says a lot, considering only a few out of the multitude of tennis players make it. However, I think there is more to the situation than meets the eye.
Osaka Has Been Struggling
The past 12 months have been harsh. It all started when Naomi refused to engage in press conferences at the 2021 French Open. She was penalized $15,000 for missing the press conference. It is in her contractual agreement to do so. She feels that the press is negative and unfair with their questions. All I can say is if you agree to the rules, then you cannot change them. Also, when she returned to play in January 2022, she could not climb back to the top. Instead, she fell in the rankings, now ranked 78th in the WTA.
Due to mental health issues building up, she missed Wimbledon. After losing in the third round of the US Open, she went on hiatus and mentioned tennis and winning do not make her feel happy. With that being said, the issue seems to revolve around possibly losing the love of the sport. Losing the love of the sport is a game-changer.
So, are her tears and being upset about the heckler, or is it about losing the love of the sport? Because not loving what you are doing will affect your performance and mental health. Doing something for hours a day, day in and day out, without enjoying it, produces ill will. Therefore, when heckled, not being emotionally stable, will exacerbate those emotions on and off the court. The stability of the mind dictates how you deal with things. When mental health is good, then bullying and negativity seems just to be brushed off the shoulders.
Like Andy Murray said, about heckling, “it’s a part of the sport; it’s something you have to prepare for.” Just like developing your serve technique and backhand, you must train your mind to handle the hecklers’ jeers. Nadal also commented that it is incorrect, but you must learn to deal with your adversaries. Andy and Nadal express their support and sympathy for Naomi. However, in the face of adversity, your show and see your true strengths.
Mental health and balance are essential because of the high amount of training, stress, and pressure put on the athlete to win. If you don’t love what you do, it becomes work. When it becomes work, it creates stress. And the stress builds up, creating pressure, affecting you mentally.
It’s tough for a sports organization to eject or ban people who heckle or say negative things. However, if violence and prejudice are involved, that is a much different story.
For Naomi, “You can spend your time on the stage pleasing the heckler in the back, or you can devote it to the audience that came to hear you perform.” –Seth
“A loud voice of ignorance is an incredible waste of opportunity to promote intelligence for the heckler.” Eddie S. Wilson
“Choose to be optimistic it feels better.” Dali Lama