Amy Osaka — did she make the right decision?

Waffles the pug
Waffles, my daughter’s emotional support animal, has given her much needed comfort this past year.

I read this piece about Amy Osaka today. I’ve seen her name in the news, but until this morning I hadn’t read the stories. What I gleaned, the 23-year-old tennis super star is suffering from mental health issues and doesn’t want to speak to the press. She knew she’d be fined, she was okay with that. But in the end, she decided to withdraw from the French Open. I was interested in Osaka’s story because depression and anxiety are not foreign in my family tree. Here’s more from the article:

“Mental difficulty can be mysterious, even to the sufferer. We’re also still amid a pandemic in which ordinary interactions with other people have been stifled, and routines and lives have been disrupted. If you’re doing OK, it’s tempting to think everyone else should be doing OK, too. That’s not the way it goes, however. A little bit of empathy can go a long way.”

Listening to Naomi Osaka
Sports are getting more attuned to mental health, but there’s still a long way to go
Wall Street Journal By Jason Gay
Updated June 2, 2021 8:44 am ET

“On the matter of Naomi Osaka and the French Open: I suspect a day will come when people will look back upon this moment and be mystified by how agitated it all got, how a player opting out of routine press conferences and deciding to leave a tournament because of concern about her own mental health became such a global uproar. I suspect there will be a time in the future when an athlete’s revelation of depression and anxiety—or anyone’s revelation of depression and anxiety—won’t launch a zillion casual diagnoses or judgments about an alleged lack of mettle.

“I think (I hope!) we’re going to reach a point that when a person says they’re in mental distress, we will just…listen.

“But we’re not there yet. 

“We’re not there yet because mental health in sports, like in many occupations and environments, remains a complicated, under-discussed subject, still wrapped in stigma and dated notions about toughness and “gutting it out.” We’re getting better, no doubt about it—more workplaces are offering mental-health resources for employees, and in sports, Osaka has been preceded by star athletes like Michael Phelps, Abby Wambach, DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love, who have openly discussed mental-health battles of their own. 

“It’s a work in progress, however. The awkward debate over Osaka’s departure signals that athletes and sports are still figuring this out. We’re not yet ready to nurture mental health in the way we do a pulled hamstring or badly sprained ankle.”

I read another article from the Wall Street Journal about how employers are trying to accommodate younger employees who are much more open about their mental health:

“Naomi Osaka did something this week that would be unthinkable in many workplaces. Citing her struggles with depression and social anxiety, she said she wouldn’t be able to carry out what some see as a key part of a professional tennis player’s job: talking to the press.

What Happens When Mental-Health Issues Get in the Way of Work
Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open is a public example of a private issue facing many companies By Te-Ping Chen
June 3, 2021 7:31 am ET

“The 23-year-old Ms. Osaka—the world’s highest-paid female athlete—isn’t a typical professional, nor is the French Open a traditional workplace. But Ms. Osaka’s openness about her mental-health struggles is a public example of private issues companies are increasingly facing as a young generation more candid about such challenges joins the workforce, employers say.

“Companies have been adjusting to meet employees’ needs with more mental-health support and services in recent years. Yet Ms. Osaka’s announcement and subsequent tournament withdrawal highlights an especially thorny question: How can an individual’s mental-health needs be accommodated when those needs affect the ability to do parts of the job?”

Waffles and my daughter at the beach
Waffles with my daughter at the beach last summer.

What are your thoughts about Amy Osaka? Should the tennis world have given her accommodations for her mental health? Or, did she make the correct decision to step back and take care of herself? Do you think employers should give accommodations to employees who are suffering from mental illness just as they would physical ailments?

I wrote a post a few years ago about the GOAT Michael Phelps and his struggles with depression after hearing him speak in the Palm Springs area. You can read that article here.


15 thoughts on “Amy Osaka — did she make the right decision?

  1. 💜 I AM Talking Here from My Own Experience and The Answer is Yes; it’s Crystal Clear Clarity that Amy must Look after HerSelf…as a youthful sports prodigy I Wasn’t Looked After Mentally and I Burnt Out and Crashed; on Reflection it’s was No Bad Thing as I NOW!!! Write about Many Things including Mental Health and maybe, one day, I WILL!!! Coach Paying Attention to Vibes and Mental Health

    …💛💚💙…

  2. Pingback: ReBlogging ‘Amy Osaka — did she make the right decision?’ – Link Below | Relationship Insights by Yernasia Quorelios

    • 💜 This ^ kind of Patriarchal, Parental, http://www.ericberne.com , Drivel and DumbAsseness NoneSense is Exactly why Amy is Taking a Break From Parental, ‘Soccer’ Parents Admonitions, So Let HER!!! Have HER!!! Break; just Like The Terminator SHE’LL Be Back and Stronger Than Ever, I Have Spoken

      … 💛💚💙…

  3. I think Ms. Osaka should have the freedom and the right to say “Not today! I am not capable to allowing myself the stress of a press meeting.” Fining her for taking care of herself is stupid, and should not be tolerated!

    • I think the USTA or whatever organization made that decision acted without thinking. Hopefully, our society will progress beyond such short sighted thinking.

  4. It’s important to take care of one’s health – mental or physical – first and foremost. I wonder if she could learn some coping mechanisms for the future. Those press interviews are pretty (very) lame and having a few pocket answers might get her through (“yes,” “no, “that’s an interesting question…,” “I don’t know”). Just because a reporter asks you a question doesn’t mean you have to give them a complete answer. I wonder if female athletes feel more pressure to be “nice.” I’ve seen plenty of male athletes give one-word answers.

    • You’ve got a great point. I remember watching “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch with the Seahawks make a mockery of press day a few years ago. When reporters asked him questions he said, “I really don’t have too much to say, boss,” Lynch said in a tone barely above a whisper. “I really don’t. I appreciate it, but I don’t get it. I’m just here so I won’t get fined, boss. That’s the only reason I’m here.” I can’t imagine a young woman of 23 saying that.

  5. Ok. Here’s the thing. Naomi has to manage her health whether it be mental or physical. I don’t think it’s the employers responsibility. The problem here is that the game of tennis is about sponsorship…it’s where the money comes from for the prizes. If someone is literally giving the money in exchange for a public image, how do you draw the line? Giving interviews is a job requirement. If you can’t fulfill the requirement of the job, what do you do?im still tossing this one over

    • What if they allowed Amy to skip press interviews and then others requested to do the same? I think that’s what the tennis world was afraid of.

      • That’s the problem. If you allow one, you have to allow all. You can’t make an exception cause she’s a star. I feel for her, yet she is contractually obligated. If you don’t make people do interviews, they lose sponsorship. You lose sponsorship there’s no more league.

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