This archived article was written by: David Osborne Jr.
I have something to confess, I am getting old. Sad realization right? This hit me the other day while watching a sporting event on television. I don’t remember whether it was a basketball or football game or maybe a golf tournament, (not remembering was my first sign of getting old.) Then I did something I have never done, I looked at the players as individuals. Here were people I looked up to, but they were no longer what they once were.They are getting old too, that was my second clue not only to being old, but that times are changing.
Think back, not too far, but to the time when John Elway, Brett Favre were “the field generals,” and could lead an offense down the field like none other. When Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were the leaders of the Chicago Bulls, and captured six titles. And for you ladies, remember when basketball shorts were well, actually short (case in point: John Stockton.) There were the sluggers of the ball diamond: Cal Ripken Jr., Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffey Jr.. There was golf and tennis. Petros (Pete) Sampras and Andre Aggasi ruled the courts and made it impossible for people to beat them. Greg Norman, Fred Couples and even a young up-and-comer named Eldrick Woods stormed the golf courses and won tournaments like they were going out of style. Many of these athletes have gone the way of retirement.
You don’t even have to look that far back to see that we are losing our childhood superheroes. The stars of the early decade are starting to falter. Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd and Tim Duncan were the greatest players on the basketball court (still are in most cases), but are slowing down and not the same as they used to be.
Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling were pitchers that batters feared to step up to the plate against; and David Ortiz and Vladimir Guerrero were batters that pitchers didn’t want to stare down. Fastballs have slowed down and batting averages have dropped. Peyton Manning, LaDainian Tomlinson and Champ Bailey are all football players that have been at the top of people’s lists for years (and to be honest I would keep them there) but they aren’t as great as they were. Sure they are still around, but new stars are making their way into the spotlight.
Of course there are always “Iron Men” in sports that outlast the average career life of an athlete in individual sports, but there is an expiration date on them. The average baseball rookie can expect their career to last five and a half years according to a study performed by the University of Colorado, (the study excluded pitchers who have much more volatile careers and are more prone too injury.) According to the National League Football Player’s Association, the average career of a player is three and a half years, although the players get the full pension at six years. The average professional basketball player lasts five seasons. Compare that to the career of the average sports writer, which will last anywhere between 30 and 40 years (not all with the same newspaper or company.)
So what have we learned my life time? There has been close to six groups of rookies that have come into their own individual sports and now done. What about the athletes that seem to stick around forever? According to research, there have only been three changes of those elite individuals in their respected sports and we are now gearing up for another one.
Sure, we know that we are losing the men and women we have looked up to as superior athletes for the last decade or so, but at one point and time, they were the rookies coming in and replacing the athletles that were the best in the business. Players like Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin (NBA), Jason Heyward and Buster Posey (MLB), Sam Bradford and Ndamukong Suh (NFL) along with Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler (golf) will soon be the “untouchable” icons of their sports.
Seasons change, careers come to an end eventually. This is why there is a change of our heroes That has been Next on the Tee.