Here. This is the best thing I've read after the Wade Belak tragedy from yesterday. (Police confirmed today the he was found hanged in a hotel room. No suicide note, no suicidal tendencies whatsoever) And I've read a lot about Belak's death and what this past summer means for hockey, for fighting, for fighters, etc. Adrian Dater knocks it out of the park here, relating how most NHL tough guys really never wanted to be NHL tough guys, but that's the price they pay to do what they love for a living. Combine that with Greg Wyshyski's round-up of post-Belak sentiments from around the Mainstream Media and you get a pretty tragic picture that shows not only the way many of these athletes live their lives, but also potential emotional and psychological plane crash that comes when life suddenly kicks you to the curb. Whether you're an athlete whose career is suddenly over, an actor whose fifteen minutes of fame are up, or even just the guy who loses his job of ten years and finds himself staring at his living room walls for hours on end, it can be a rough adjustment to try to make. There are a lot of folks in this world who wake up one day to realize their dreams aren't all they thought they would be. "I only wanted a family, so why don't my spouse and kids satisfy me?" "I knew I'd be in movies, but I never thought I'd be stuck with the boom mic." "I wanted to be a writer. I did not want to spend the rest of my life writing copy for crappy Internet travel sites." "I wanted to be successful, and I am. I didn't realize I'd have to pay the price in meaningful relationships." And so it goes.
It's like trying to buy a car, but when you get home you realize what you drove back from the dealer is not the same vehicle the salesman sold you. Sometimes, even your dreams aren't all they were cracked up to be. And it sucks when that happens. And I'm not saying that so that we'll look at Belak and Rypien and say, "Yeah, it happens to everyone. Deal with it." I'm only saying that, when put into this kind of context, I understand a lot more of where these guys are coming from. Which, obviously, doesn't mean I'd condone the act of suicide. Not at all. But it's probably time to realize that, whether we like hockey or not, whether we even care about sports at all, whether we have the potential to earn 1-2 million bucks per year for nine months of work, we're really not all that different from these guys. In their hearts, they were really just chasing their dream, and in a way, it turned on them. Turns out, there's something in these guys' stories that I can relate to after all.