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What Sports Stars Have Taught Us About Speaking Out About Difficult Topics

By Mark Farrelly
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What makes a man? Being able to carry the world on your own shoulders doesn't make a man. Acting the tough cookie doesn't make a man. There's nothing manly about being a lone wolf. What makes us real men is when learn to help each other share the burden. We become real men when we drop the facade of unflappability and learn that it's perfectly OK to tell others, to tell those you love, when we feel troubled.

Great things can happen when we open up. Take the ongoing mental health campaign from Irish sports star for example.

Our mind is just like any other part of our body. It needs to be looked after. Confiding in loved ones or in people you trust that you don't feel the best isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. As musician and former Leinster rugby player Bressie tells us, it's ok to not feel ok.

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More and more men are manning up to share their own experiences with us and the positive message about mental health. GAA stars, Conor Cusack, Alan O'Mara, Ger Brennan and Niall McNamee are among those. They also teach us that not only is it good to look after ourselves but when we do, we open ourselves up to a world of possibilities.


This is just another example on how our perspective on what makes a man has changed. The world is changing and it's time we changed with it. Are you ready to take the next step? The Man Up campaign wants to help you make it.


Another brilliant example of people in sport who decide to man up and fight back against the macho stereotype was US news reporter Dale Hansen. His piece to camera after now NFL player Michael Sam came out is essential viewing. Not only does Hansen tackle the issue of homophobia but he also brings up domestic violence to show just how wrong the idea of 'manilness' has been in society and how is time to change it.

Hansen's speech is simply brilliant, and his bravery in questioning what makes 'a man's world' deserves to be commended:


You beat a woman and drag her down a flight of stairs, pulling her hair out by the roots; you're the fourth guy taken in the NFL draft. You kill people while driving drunk; that guy's welcome. Players caught in hotel rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes, we know they're welcome.

Players accused of rape and pay them to go away. You lie to police, trying to cover up a murder; we're comfortable with that. You love another man? Well now you've gone too far.

You can watch his full speech below.


The likes of Dale Hansen force us to reevaluate what it means to be 'a man' and you can too by speaking out against the macho culture; by being good role models, by having the bravery to stand up in the face of things like domestic violence and homophobia, and make your voice heard.

Research has shown that one in eight men are currently aware of a woman living in an abusive relationship in Ireland. If you are one of those men then man up and speak out. If you've been abusive towards someone and want to change your behaviour then you can stop immediately and get help.

SAFE Ireland has 39 domestic violence support services dotted across Ireland. 20 of these provide 24 emergency accommodation and you find your nearest one here.


If you are the abuser then you can find help too. Show your real manliness by seeking support. Both mend.ie and moveireland.ie are useful resources. You're just a couple of clicks away from the right path towards changing your behaviour.

It's time to man up and take action:



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