Depression Smack Talk on the Playing FieldThis comes as no surprise to anyone, but in the heat of a rugby match the other day in Australia, Storm fullback Billy Slater’s allegedly taunted the Knights forward Cory Paterson with the words, “go to your room and have a cry.” This referred to Paterson’s battle with depression over the past two years, keeping him off the playing field all of last season.

In sports, one would expect a certain level of smack talk on the playing field. Most of it is meant to incite the other team’s players, so that they react and play more emotionally. A player who plays from anger rather from their rational mind is likely to make more mistakes, so goes the common wisdom.

Where do we draw the line on the playing field?

Nobody would think about insulting another player because of a hamstring injury — “Hey, how’s your sissy thigh working out for you?!”

But apparently a mental health issue is fair game. Well, it was until the on-field microphones picked up on the insult, and it hit the news media. Slater has since apologized for the remark:

“I accept that in the heat of the moment on Saturday night, I overstepped the mark with a flippant comment I directed at Cory Paterson. What was said was insensitive given what Cory has been through over the past 18 months.” […]

While no action was taken after Paterson stated he did not want the matter to go further, the Herald understands Slater would have faced a fine or suspension from the NRL if he had not issued a second apology in as many days.

This incident is over. Does it mean the end of these kinds of comments in professional sports around the world? I’m not so naive to believe it will be, but the writing is on the wall — make fun of someone’s mental illness on the playing field and face public castigation and possible fines.

Read the full article: Kennett slams Slater over depression sledge



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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Mar 2010
    Published on All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2010). Depression Smack Talk on the Playing Field. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 27, 2015, from


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