Fame, money, depression, suicide

Paddy Upton on the pitfalls of cricketing success

Harbhajan Singh with Upton (File photo)

Mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton, who forms a formidable team with Gary Kirsten that took India and now South Africa to the top of the world rankings, explores the pitfalls of cricketing fame and success on his blog.

During the good times friends flock. Sadly many are ‘false friends’ or ‘name-droppers’. According to Tolle, these people seek out their hero, and often unbeknown to themselves, are not actually interested in the star, but rather in enhancing their own identity and sense of self-worth. They believe that through knowing a celebrity, they become more, better, complete through the eyes of others. When times are good, this ‘relationship’ works for the star as he finds himself surrounded by people who fuel his celebrity status.

If the tough times last, through injury, low form, being dropped or retirement, times when friends are important, the celebrity may find few if any around. The false friends cannot have their needs met though a falling star, so they move off to nurture their associations with the next fashionable celebrity. With attachment to being a celebrity, the loneliness deepens when results no longer boost a fickle self-confidence, made worse by lack of genuine friendship or connection to others, and a now deepy-set alienation from their authentic self. There seems nowhere to turn.

Cricket is currently the sport with the highest suicide rate in the world, with South Africa the country with the highest rate of all countries. One in every 24 of South Africa’s test cricketers who have died, died through suicide. Crickets divorce rate is apparently second only to Hollywood. What these facts don’t allude to is the creeping emptiness, loneliness, depression and substance abuse that many cricketers and ex-cricketers may suffer. In an article on cricket suicides, a well-known English country cricketer related his story to Michael Atherton; ‘I bottled everything up; I didn’t feel as though I could talk to anyone. I had nowhere to go, nowhere to turn. I felt like I was in a big black hole and there was no way out.’