With ESPN being my mind-numbing drug of choice while I run on the treadmill, I have seen several shows dealing with the year-in-review in sports. To me, the most compelling story, by far, has been the comeback of Vince Young. For those of you who are not football fans, Vince Young was a can’t miss star coming out of college who seemed to miss. Not being able to deal with failure on the gridiron for the first time in his life, he fell into a state of despair, was unable to play, and, according to some reports, he became suicidal. This year, after his team’s starting quarterback was benched, Young returned as the starter and has started to actualize his potential.
When Young became depressed and stopped functioning, his teammates gave up on him. They essentially seemed to question his manhood, feeling that he had no “real” reason not to compete. I suppose that in a sport where players are supposed to “suck it up” and play even when they have concussions and other serious injuries, I should not be surprised that they did not cut their depressed teammate any slack. After all, they have made a Faustian deal that allows them to play and make boatloads of money, with the knowledge that they will likely be crippled later on in life.
I wonder whether general society would be any different. Although much progress has been made in people recognizing the real debilitating effect of depression, do people view it as a real disease? No one would tell someone with a broken leg to suck it up and keep running. We don’t expect someone with heart disease to overcome the problem on their own.
While I take great joy in watching Vince Young’s recent success, I look forward to the day when it will be clear just what it took for him to overcome his disease.