The win may be the biggest pressure for players in professional sports. It is not enough to train for hours, days and weeks, a marriage of the mental and physical, pushing athletes to the brink. To finish first, conquer your opponent, and to stand highest on the podium with a gold medal slung around your neck ― that’s the holy grail.
Recently, I wrote about how fame, money and access creates a unique concoction for sports stars to experience extreme levels of alcoholism, substance abuse and mental health disorders. The root of this, I discovered in my research, was that with each new level of success, athletes felt pressure to stay in the game at any cost. Often those costs were addiction to opioids such as pain pills and other narcotics. There is another side to this story ― one that cuts to the quick of an athlete’s drive to be the best in sport. The pressure to be the best may loom so large that cheating becomes a way of beating the odds; or at least one’s opponent.