Despite the pandemic we are suffering worldwide, we have managed to enjoy a magnificent UEFA European Championship, crowning a team that had not given their fans that particular joy for a long time.
But I want to talk specifically about the final game between England and Italy. It was a match that from the beginning gave great emotion and promised a lot, a match worthy of a final. At the end of the game, even after Extra Time, the score was still 1-1. So came the feared penalties, where Italy won 3-2 and became the champion of Europe.
Afterward, social media crucified the English players who had missed penalties. In Manchester, a mural of Marcus Rashford, the player who missed the first English penalty, was vandalized by furious fans.
That’s where fans forget that players are human beings, that they have feelings, that they have families, that they make mistakes, and that in the end, every sport is an athlete’s job. Could the fans who vandalized that mural shoot that penalty? Would they have had the physical or mental strength? As fans, we have to understand that the athletes who play in front of millions of people weekly, who are seen in many countries, will have their every play and gesture examined with a magnifying glass and criticized in social media—that’s a lot of pressure.
Now I wonder—what would have happened if social media had existed back when Roberto Baggio missed the penalty in the 1994 World Cup? He was one of the best players in the world, an exquisite Italian, out of the ordinary on the pitch, “Il Divino.” Would the world have been just as ready to sacrifice him?
So before we insult a player, let’s put ourselves in his place, and think if we could do what he does. He works hard every day in his profession. Could we handle the same pressure?
Don´t forget athletes are human too.
More “athletes are human too content” and mental health in sports: Eric Kussin | Mental Health in Youth Sports | The Psychology of a Goalkeeper