December 02, 2011
Amid the festivities and silliness of Champions Week, there have been some serious, even sobering moments. Kurt Busch, who's had a rough season from a public relations perspective, acknowledged this week that he's seeing a sports psychologist.
"I need to be a better person on the radio, to the team, as a leader," Busch said. "It's personal issues, of course, and working with a sports psychologist, I've gotten obviously a small grasp, but there's obviously bigger things that I need to accomplish and things can't happen overnight."
Busch marred a promising year with several outbursts, ranging from profane radio chatter to unruly behavior at Richmond to a foul-mouthed shot at Homestead captured on YouTube. He became a walking punch line — we too got in on the jokes — who could explode in rage at any moment.
But the revelation that he's seeing a sports psychologist is very good news indeed. Certainly, there will be those who can't understand this, who see this as either quack science or a way of dodging those "personal issues." That's completely the wrong approach to take here.
Most of us can't possibly understand what it's like to compete at this level. Sorry, but chances are your job and mine aren't the kinds that jack your adrenaline through the roof for hours on end and involve the very real threat of bodily harm. So it's not surprising that you see guys act like Kurt Busch. What's surprising is that you don't see more like him.
Busch conceded, though, that the environment is no excuse, and acknowledged how much harm one can do to one's image with just a single outburst. "You can work 364 days on being positive and building toward a better platform, and it can take just one day to knock it all back," he said. "I need to harness what happens in the race car and keep it there, and then I need to step out of the car and understand that if we didn't reach our goal for that day or that moment, that it's going to be all right at the end."
None of this is meant to say Busch is mentally ill. But the brain needs a tune-up every now and then, too. Bravo to Busch for recognizing that, and for taking the necessary steps. As much fun as it is to hear him explode, it's got that watching-a-car-crash voyeuristic element to it ... if that car was self-destructive and driving itself into guard rails at every turn. Best of luck to Busch with the treatment.
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