Monday, May 7, 2012

The Good Life

"I'm going to miss the lights." These were the words uttered by the Don Billingsley character at the end of the movie "Friday Night Lights". Three friends who had known nothing but the glory of being star high school football players in Texas were now facing a harsh reality. Their season was over. And as the credits rolled, their coach removed their names from a magnetic depth chart board.

Great athletes today seem to have it all. Fame, fortune, adoring fans and "their posse" around them to reinforce just how great they are. But just because people tell them they are fantastic is not how they got that way. Top tier professional athletes today don't get there by luck. They work hard, prepare, sacrifice and especially when it comes to football, have a burning, near addiction for the game. In return they are put on a pedestal for the rest of us to see.

Unfortunately, what many of them don't have or won't accept is a support system when it all comes to an end. At a time when most of us are coming into our prime, these young people are now "washed up." The day they thought would never happen comes and the world moves on to the next superstar.

Hopefully there are supportive families, but time after time we hear that players feel guilty they can't provide for their loved ones the way they once did. Over half of retired players who divorce, get divorced within one year of retirement. Many find other challenges, but we continue to hear stories of athletes who are on a hopeless quest for that same "rush." Bad business deals, gambling, failed second careers scar the landscape of many retired players. The sad fact, as found in a recent Sports Illustrated report is that 78% of NFL players and 60% of NBA players file bankruptcy within 5 years of retirement.

Most of us have very little sympathy for highly paid athletes. We say we would do it for free and if that were us our problems would be over. 24 hour sports news coverage would be fun and when it was all over we would kick back living the good life.

Yet when a beloved player like Junior Seau is lost we want to find reasons. He was friendly, he was popular. What could it be because he had it all. The NFL is currently under fire for lack of preventative measures when it comes to concussions and all sports are still dealing with the aftermath of steroid use. But suicides in less violent sports around the world is abnormally high.

Could it be that when the elite athlete has their entire self worth tied up in being the Wizard,when the day comes that the curtain is pulled, they are totally unprepared?

And could it be that while Don Billinglsey said he "would miss the lights," some athletes simply can't live without them?......... JDaddy


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