My college magazine arrived in the mail this week. It isn't the most interesting issue, since it is filled with the lists of those who have given money or scholarships or funded a new building or a chair. Hardly anyone I knew well in school has given much money (including me) so I didn't even read the names.
What did interest me was an article, with a photo of four old geezers from my era, who are STILL playing basketball, nearly every day, apparently looking to retain the glory that was theirs in the late 1950's and early 60's. Why do some men continue to seek fame through sports, into what should be their waning years? Why not put all that energy into something worthwhile and productive? The constant search for the youthful exhiliration of long ago is very sad to me. Applause is necessary to these men, it seems. I can understand an actor, for example, who forever tries to recreate the feeling he has when he becomes well known for his ability. Actors can ply their craft no matter what their age. But jocks? Why can't they just live on past glory when it is obvious they are too old for the sport?
I know it can be argued that they should be commended for staying in shape, for exercising their bodies, and setting a good example for the younger generation, but I suppose that the problem for me is that I know the history of one of these four men over the course of his life from college graduation on, and it is not pretty. His love for and refusal to give up basketball and male camaraderie was very instrumental in the breakup of his marriage, and the partial estrangement of his children. His life is sad with a capital "S", in my opinion.
Do you know an aging athlete who appears to be living in the past? What advice would you give him/her?