Connections: How tennis star Naomi Osaka helped put athletes' mental health in the global spotlight

Jun 10, 2021

Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka shocked the sports world when she announced last week that she was withdrawing from the French Open. Osaka had skipped media obligations leading into the tournament, revealing that she was struggling with her mental health. The move was applauded by some athletes and advocates, who praised Osaka for putting athletes' mental health into the global spotlight. But critics and some sports journalists say that talking to the press is part of an elite athlete's job, and Osaka shouldn't neglect that obligation.

The story raises a number of questions: how do we care for our mental health? When it is okay to step back? What is the responsibility of an elite athlete when it comes to communicating with journalists? Our guests address these questions and more. Our guests:

  • Mike Maloney, M.D., chief of the Sports Medicine Division in the Department of Orthopaedics and founder of the Fitness Science and CHAMMP programs at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and former elite athlete
  • Craig Cypher, Psy.D., assistant professor of Orthopaedics and sport psychologist for the Fitness Science program at the University of Rochester Medical Center 
  • Alexa Ross, sports anchor and reporter at WROC 
  • Scott Pitoniak, longtime Rochester sports columnist and author