U.K. broadcaster, BT Sport premiered After The Roar on September 9th 2022, looking at the mental health struggles former elite sportsmen face after they retire. Numerous professional athletes have described post-retirement living as a drastic difference to their playing careers.
The documentary is fronted by former Leinster, Ireland and Lions rugby captain, Brian O’Driscoll, where he reflects on his 15-year playing career as well as other players. They look at the health challenges posed after competing, as well as the likely reduction in earnings, attention, and competitive pressure.
“When I retired, I was confronted with one of the most testing challenges I’d ever faced: life after sport,” O’Driscoll said.
“From the outside, my retirement may have looked easy, but the truth is I had my own battles. I don’t think I’m alone and I’m very keen to better understand the impact retirement has on former athletes – and sportsmen in particular.”
“In 21st century UK and Ireland the largest killer of men under the age of 50 is suicide. There’s a crisis in men’s mental health, and, for many ex-sportsmen, a stigma attached to showing vulnerability.”
Several stars of various sports are featured throughout the piece including the manager of the England men’s national football team Gareth Southgate, former coach of Australia’s rugby union side, Michael Cheika, champion jockey AP McCoy, boxer and Team GB Olympic medallist Anthony Ogogo, and England international cricketer Jonny Bairstow.
Author and psychotherapist, Richie Sadlier, features alongside O’Driscoll in the doc. Sadlier used to play professional soccer at U.K. football club Millwall. He made his international debut for Ireland in 2002 when a severe hip injury pushed him into retirement.
Zeeshan Saeed, President and Co-Founder of FSD Pharma Inc. opined that the subject matter has been sorely left unexplored for too long.
“Mental health is a vital element in everything that we do at FSD. There is a big issue with mental health that has been recognized more and more in recent years, unfortunately sometimes through tragic stories. A documentary explaining the feelings and scenario for an audience is deeply important.”
He continued, “Sometimes these issues cause chemical imbalances that can be solved acutely through drugs and therapy or one or the other. Ultimately, the most important thing is that we recognize that this is an issue, and we should – as a society – be focused on fixing it.”
FSD’s subsidiary, Lucid Psycheceuticals Inc., is focused on the research and development of its lead compounds, Lucid-Psych and Lucid-MS. Lucid-Psych is a molecular compound identified for the potential treatment of mental health disorders. Lucid-MS is a molecular compound identified for the potential treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. Major depressive disorders are their core area of focus with a target of supplying the market with products without any unpleasant side effects.
Major Depressive Disorder, a frequently drug-resistant condition, affects about 17 million people in North America alone. FSD’s work has been published in leading medical journals, such as the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Saeed continued, “It’s not just athletes. This is a widespread issue that many in the scientific community are trying to tackle. It also affects military members that similarly, are trained mentally and physically, but not emotionally to deal with the ceasing of action post-combat.”
The film is a co-production between BT Sport Films and 3 Rock Productions. The executive producers are Sally Brown (BT Sport), plus Craig Doyle and Keith Doyle (3 Rock Productions), with Theo Lee-Ray, Isobel Williams and Mark Sharman the BT Sport Films producer and director team.
Craig Doyle said: “I have spent the last two decades working next to some of the world’s top sportsmen and have seen how, despite their successes, their mental health can be as fragile as anyone else’s. I wanted to explore this issue in a documentary and to see an idea becoming this powerful and insightful BT Sport Film is truly rewarding.”
“When Brian agreed to see a therapist as the spine of the film, we knew we had something very special indeed. Brian and all those he spoke to have helped break down the taboo of men speaking about their feelings which is so important. The BT Sport Films team of Isobel Williams, Theo Lee Ray and Mark Sharman had in-depth understanding of the issues and told the stories in a sensitive way creating an incredibly powerful film. We are very proud of the creative partnership with BT Sport Films.”