Brittni Mason: The Truth Behind Being a Professional Athlete

Paralympic Sprinter Brittni Mason

Superfeet is proud to support elite Track & Field athletes on their journey toward the 2024 Paris Olympics and beyond. Everyone from sprinters and hurdlers to discus throwers and pole vaulters all trust Superfeet to help them perform at their best, and each have a story as unique as their sport. Here is their story in their own words.

Written by Brittni Mason

Paralympic Sprinter

As a Paralympian who has overcome significant challenges to compete at the highest level in sports, I have witnessed firsthand the power of perseverance and mindset in achieving success. Mindset is crucial for any professional athlete as it can significantly impact their performance, success, and overall well-being. A positive and determined mindset can help athletes navigate the challenges, setbacks, and pressures that come with competing at a high level. Having a growth mindset, where athletes view challenges as opportunities for growth and learning, can lead to resilience, perseverance, and a greater ability to bounce back from failures. That's what I strive to have: a growth mindset, but that's easier said than done. From experience, a strong mindset can help you stay focused, motivated, and mentally tough during training and competition, enabling athletes to perform at their best when it matters most. Mindset makes the difference between mediocrity and greatness in the world of professional sports.

Did you know that according to the World Health Organization, approximately 15% of the world's population lives with some form of disability? If you didn't know that, well now you do. Now take that percentage and think about how many have competed at the Division I level in college, or in college in general. We can go even smaller and think about how many of that 15% are Paralympians.

I am part of that 15% of the population being disabled, competing at the Division I level in college, and in 2021 became a Paralympian, alongside other teammates who have done the same. Talk about beating odds and overcoming adversity. We wouldn't have been able to beat the odds with a poor mindset or the excuse of being disabled. I have never looked at my disability as an excuse as to why I can't achieve the goals I've set out for myself, and I know many other Paralympians with that same mindset. So what, we work twice as hard? We adapt because that's what you have to do when you want to be great. I believe that my mindset during my career has mattered more than anything when it comes to overcoming obstacles and achieving goals. The belief in oneself and the determination to push through adversity can make all the difference in the world.

Being a pro athlete, whether able-bodied or disabled, is not for the faint of heart. Truthfully, it's hard. It requires an incredible amount of dedication, hard work, discipline, and sacrifice. Many people may have a glamorous image of what it means to be a professional athlete, but the reality is often far from it. The truth is that being a pro athlete entails long hours of training, grueling physical and mental challenges, constant pressure to perform and compete, and a significant amount of stress and anxiety. Not to mention that it can be a tremendous financial burden.

Now don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade being a professional athlete for the world, but many people don't truly understand the behind-the-scenes of what they see on TV. Fans see the success, they don't see what it took to get there and how many years were invested. They don't see the tears at practice, the mental challenges, and even the physical challenges athletes have to overcome day in and day out.

In the case of Paralympians, the challenges are often even greater. Not only do we have to overcome the physical limitations imposed by our disabilities, but we also have to navigate a world that is not always inclusive or accommodating. Many disabled athletes face discrimination, lack of support, and limited access to resources and opportunities. Despite these obstacles, Paralympians continue to defy the odds and inspire others with their incredible resilience and determination.

One of the biggest misconceptions about professional athletes, both able-bodied and disabled, is that they are all highly paid and living a life of luxury. While it's true that some top athletes may earn substantial salaries and endorsement deals, the reality is that the majority of athletes, including Paralympians, struggle to make ends meet. Many professional athletes rely on sponsorships, government funding, and part-time jobs to support themselves and their families. In the case of Paralympians, the financial challenges are often even greater. Disabled athletes may require expensive adaptive equipment, specialized training, and access to medical care and support services. Despite their incredible talent and dedication, many Paralympians struggle to find the financial resources needed to compete at the highest level. This can be incredibly frustrating and demoralizing for athletes who have dedicated their lives to their sport.

Despite these challenges, I believe that the true measure of a professional athlete's success is not determined by their bank account, but by their passion, determination, and willingness to overcome obstacles. As a Paralympian, I have learned to appreciate the small victories and celebrate the journey, rather than focusing solely on the end result. I have learned that success is not always measured by gold medals or trophies, but by the impact and inspiration we have on others.

The percentage of disabled people in the world is significant and growing, and yet they continue to face numerous barriers and challenges in society. As a Paralympian, I have witnessed the power of mindset and determination in overcoming obstacles and achieving success. Being a pro athlete is not always glamorous or lucrative, but it is a journey filled with grit, resilience, and passion. Despite the financial challenges and underpayment that many athletes face, the true measure of success lies in the impact we have on others and the legacy we leave behind.

June 12, 2024