I will not retire; not from sports, anyway. Favre couldn’t do it. Jordan had at least a second thought about it. Some of it is an athlete’s self-image. After the crowds have stopped cheering and the fans have stopped asking for their autograph, they are left with only that inner voice. Sometimes the inner voice just echoes what others have thought or written about an athlete. Eventually, though, you have to recall who you really are and not what others perceive you to be.
The other issue that athletes have to deal with is that they still have some athletic ability and the fire to compete. Although they are no longer one of the best, they have days when they can still see a glimpse of their former self. Some athletes change their role. Some starting pitchers become closers, some runners or swimmers change distances. Well, I’m thinking about changing sports.
My wife can blame the Olympics for this. After overcoming my darn near addiction to Olympic coverage on television (I was watching the US men’s water polo team advance to the medal round after winning their division at 3AM one morning), I have developed an interest in competing in some of these sports. Did anyone else know that they had kayaks for 4 people? I have already talked to some of my friends about this and asked if they would be interested in teaming up for some of these sports. So far Greg Blais and I are looking at trying out for either doubles table-tennis or synchronized diving. We were already talking about hand signals for the table tennis to tell each other what kind of spin we are going to put on the ball and I’ve been working on my stare down in the mirror that I hope to unleash against team Ukraine one day. I think I may have some difficulty getting the plans to put in a spring board platform approved by my wife, so we will probably have to put this in at his house. I’ve already got a badminton set from Toys R Us, so if anyone is interested in practicing just let me know. My wife was helping me prepare for this, but she was sidelined after a near-fatal toe injury. Plus, she didn’t really respond favorably to me when I yelled, “Bring it!” across the net at her. Maybe I could take my bike to our local velodrome and work on my track cycling skills…if only we had a velodrome.
Dr. David Parker and I were becoming very interested in the water polo until we realized that if you get sent to the penalty box, you have to tread water the whole time in the box, so our interest waned a little bit. But, don’t count us out of the 2 man rowing; that looks like it has all kinds of possibilities.
Whichever sport I choose, it is not out of the love of the game or for sponsorship endorsements. It is for the sheer fact that I refuse to go quietly into the rest of my athletic life. I plan on going kicking and fighting and if that means with a ping-pong paddle in my hand, then so be it.