There has been a lot of talk about Ronda Rousey’s interview with Ellen DeGeneres in which she admitted she briefly contemplated suicide in the immediate aftermath of her loss to Holly Holm in their recent MMA world title fight.
It isn’t surprising. Rousey looked almost possessed in the lead up to the fight. When they entered the octagon the two women had completely contrasting energies. Rousey was going in as the undefeated reigning champion. Holm was the challenger.
However, Holm looked more grounded, settled and together before the fight even began. Rousey was wound up, aggressive and looked insecure. It looked like she had the weight of the world on her shoulders. She was focused to the point of unfocus. Since her revelation on the Ellen show it is easy to see why this was the case. She had everything to lose. Not just the title. She had her identity, self worth and validation on the line. If she wasn’t a champion then who was she?
The “all or nothing” mentality may help athletes focus but it is energy sapping and is a dangerous place to occupy. It does nothing to promote athletic longevity and even less to prepare athletes for life without sport. Every elite sports person will have experienced devastating loss at some point in their career but contemplating suicide is a seriously dark place to go immediately after a loss .
If Ronda Rousey is looking to improve her skills and become a more formidable fighter then she needs to look no further than introducing one or two more focuses in her life so she can attach her identity and feelings of self worth to things that exist outside the octagon.
In the elite sporting world too many athletes burn brightly for a short period of time. We have to promote athletic longevity and keep the flame alive. One way of doing this is encouraging them to have other interests outside of their sport thereby diluting the enormous pressure on them to achieve a result for their sole identity.
Coaches have an enormous role to play here.