from Yahoo! Sports
The sporting world came to a standstill with the official announcement from Kobe Bryant that after 20 long years of running up and down the hardwood floor, he will be finally hanging up his boots and call curtains on an illustrious career. Though these last few seasons were painful to watch as any Godzilla movie, the end was apparent and there was no escaping father time. Even though some of you out there might be a Lakers hater and let’s face it, there are a lot of jealous folks out there, a lot can be taken from the glittering twilight of Kobe’s career. Don’t go out on a stretcher– rather, know your body and listen to it. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to take a zen-approach to life.
There is a stereotype that follows the most talented athletes – stubbornness. Michael Jordan had it and Kobe Bryant modeled himself within it. The stubbornness is a necessary tool in the alpha male orientated world of sports. The idea of winning at all costs and fighting tooth and nail for every loose ball becomes engrained at an early age. It becomes reinforced when the victors are praised to the heavens and depicted with money, women, and fame. That stubbornness instilled a strong work ethic within the elite athlete. Endless hours, days, nights, and lives are sacrificed in the practice arena. The relentless pursuit of perfection and victory separated the physically gifted athletes and the legends of all time. This willingness to sacrifice time, relationships, and other short term gratifications gave people like Kobe, Jordan, Mia Hamm, Derek Jeter, and Tom Brady to name a few, success in their own respective fields. To be good at something is an accomplishment but to maintain that high level of success over a career, now that’s extraordinary.
When you have been instilled a mentality of relentless passion and a no surrender approach, giving up and retiring are two notions that are cardinal sins in the world of sports. These athletes will go to great lengths to prove their doubters wrong and truly believe in their eternal greatness. However, we all remember the end of Michael Jordan’s long days with the Washington Wizards, or Fred McGriff wiffing at every pitch. During the course of the 2015-2016 NBA season, we all thought Kobe Bryant would give it another year or so because he was one stubborn son of a gun. Luckily, he listened to his body (despite the torn Achilles tendon, fractured patella, and torn rotator cuff) and is calling it quits at the end of this year. I know the most of you aren’t elite athletes. Heck, I wouldn’t even call myself athlete in any way but the point is, there comes a time when we have to take a step back and realistically evaluate ourselves and body and ask ourselves if we can honestly do it anymore.
The human body is one of the wonders of our universe. The minute we are born, our synapses and fibers mature, providing us with an ever increasing amount of strength and coordination. We become physical specimens by early adulthood but at a certain point, our bodies no longer run that 40 yard sprint in the sub 4 second frame, or just a mile in whatever time you did as a high school athlete. Yet, we refuse to give up – we join crossfit gyms and hit the weights harder than ever with the attitude that giving up and pain is for sissies. Well, the stress and damage we do to our bodies will forever linger and follow us into the latter stages of adulthood, and can severely limit us. In other words, you can be a 60 year old with relatively good knees, or you can be one with bilateral knee replacement surgeries and the inability to go for a walk. The moral lesson here is to listen to your body and don’t ever be too proud to admit your physical limitations. Sometimes it isn’t worth being able to squat 500 lbs. if it means that a decade from now, my knees will be shot. For athletes outside the realm of professionalism, life and working out is a marathon. Treasure the ability to jog, run, or even walk, and make sure you won’t lose that gift as you age.
As always, evaluate yourself with the help of a medical professional. Consider their advice seriously. Although many folks successfully defied the limitations and prognosis of their physician, the long term effects go unpublicized. Though admitting weakness is a cultural travesty, utilize it as a tool to better yourself. When you’re clouded with unrealistic expectations and judgement, you often don’t see the things that you can improve upon. To be a better athlete and a person, we improve on our weaknesses that we hopefully can identify (Blake Griffin and his jumpshot and free throws are a good example). Train hard today, but make sure there is a tomorrow.