Friday, July 15, 2011

Age is Just a Number....Unless You're an Athlete

Last week I was trying to decide what to write for my Friday Fun post, and the woman who bore me decided to offer up some friendly advice. Here's how the conversation went:

Me: " *Le sigh* I don't know what to write about for my Friday Fun post."

Mom: "Well, you're turning 30 next week. Write about how most professional athletes retire by that age. That's fun!"

Me: "MOM!"

Mom: "What? It's a good topic! I'm clever."

True story.

Yes, I'm turning 30 in two days. In real life, that's not so old. And, having been blessed with incredibly lucky genetics, I still get mistaken for a college student. In fact, not quite so long ago (26? 27?) I was asked by an airline stewardess if I was old enough to sit in the emergency exit aisle. You know....the one where you have to be FIFTEEN?????

But I digress.

In the world of professional sports, however, 30 is pretty much the age where it's time to start looking for a retirement community, some orthopedic shoes, and a great pair of dentures. Sad, isn't it?

According to some unnamed study, the average world class athlete retires by age 33. The average NFL player retires by age 28. The average wrestler retires at 24. And the average elite gymnast? Well, I am so freaking over the hill on that one that I've come down the other side and am halfway to the next town.

Case in point: Phenom tennis star Steffi Graff retired at the age of...wait for it....30. And then she married superstar athlete Andre Agassi.  What that has to do with her retirement, I don't know. All I know is she was rich, successful, and had an awesome husband at my age. I've never felt like more of a slacker.

Whatever Steffi. I still look like bait on To Catch a Predator. I win.
One reason why the retirement age for pro athletes is so low (no, not because they've made millions and billions and zillions of dollars and want others to be able to share the wealth) is because they are physically beat up.

Take a look at poor NFL players. They are 19 times more likely to have dementia than a regular dude the same age.  Yeah, that sucks. Taking blows to the head, face, chest, legs, etc is apparently not good for you.

Another reason, and perhaps the suckiest, is that there is always somebody younger, faster, and better just around the corner. The downside of belonging to the exclusive pro athlete club is that there's ten others ready to take your place. Experience can only take you so far before you're just old and slow.

Thankfully, I don't have to worry about being old and slow (I had the slow part down YEARS ago). Or being slammed in the head.

So, I guess I'm glad I'm not being forced into retirement.

Even if I am turning 30.
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Kristin @ What She Said said...

This was funny. Perspective. It's all about perspective. And Happy Birthday! (Again.)

Judy Peterson said...

Happy Birthday. I was carded once when I was 35 and it made my day! Of course long before I was eligible for the "senior" discount I was asked at a ski resort if I was old enough for that discount. That made Peter's day.

Justin D-Z said...

I turned 30 in June and I still suck at sports. I had a similar problem, though. When I started traveling a lot for work, I had big problems getting rental cars, especially since the WV licenses always looked like fakes anyway. It got a lot easier when I grew a beard. I was a popular dinner companion with my female boss at the time because she loved getting carded.

Happy birthday in advance, in case I lose track of it in a few days!

Sports-o-Nista said...

Thanks for the birthday wishes everyone!!!!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Meg...Just remember Julia Child didn't take up cooking until 50 and became famous after 50... And then there are golfers who weren't successful until they joined the Masters circuit.


Frank Damon said...

Yeah, only a few athletes can reach 35 and above, and still play at the highest level. If you want to reach that level, you should always take care of your health. That way, you can extend your career and enjoy the sport you really love.

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