We all favour different senses, people are said to have a bias to one or two of the major senses – sight, smell, touch, sound and taste – all are very specific relying on organs within the body to ‘sense’ what is going on. However, consider that other sense – the sixth sense, intuition or gut feel, no organs required just a feeling, a totally intangible entity that can affect the whole body and mind but is not part of any one single organ. The mind is not an organ!
Clearly you have a choice to listen to or not listen to the sixth sense – the simple process of decision making is to decide whether to follow our gut instinct or not. Consider further then when your sixth sense is either being proactively ignored or avoided – when we know there is something that we should be addressing or taking action about but we choose to blatantly ignore it and push on regardless.
Taking a different tack entirely for a moment…consider your grocery shopping. In the olden days there was no such thing as a “use by date”. The test was straight forward enough – you used taste, smell or colour, your standard senses would make the judgement call as to whether something was fit to eat or needed to be thrown away – it was past its use by date – not fit for purpose and could potentially make you feel very ill.
In the sporting arena other people seem to think they know what your “use by date” is and then the worst thing can happen, the public, the press and anyone else with a microphone starts to tell you. They believe they can see better than you can that your “use by date” is up.
A sports persons’ professional career is not a long one. The game, the action, the activity is an obsession – it’s far greater than a passion, it is a total love, desire and hunger for the game. Whether it be the crash bang wallop of a contact sport, the finesse of gliding on ice or the incredibly distinctive and mental challenge through the eyes of an archer, there is total commitment for that sport.
Whilst some sports make a great deal more money than others the training, the discipline, the sacrifices, the injuries, the early mornings, the constant application to make sure everything is set just right to enable you to compete at the top with all variables removed from the equation. If this is the picture of a dedicated professional sports person who are we, the armchair microphoned brigade, to turn around and claim to know better about someone’s use by date?
Let me loop back to the sixth sense described earlier. The signs are always on the wall, the body, the joints, the muscles. From the early days as a teenager learning about pushing on through the pain barrier at training through to the seasoned professional now wearing more kinetic tape, deep heat having had yet another ice bath and a massage so you can go out and take part today. There is always pain, there is always discomfort and while the heart might be willing the body eventually says no more. At that point the “use by date” cannot be ignored – there are (for most) another 45 years on planet earth for Life After Sport.
Do not berate a sportsperson for trying to eke out one more season of passion and personal punishment, with all the strength and conditioning available today, players can recover better than before. Do not shout about use by dates – the sportsperson knows, they may be guilty of selective hearing and proactively avoiding those messages, but they know. There is Life After Sport and with the right people and PowerTeam to support, nurture and motivate, that life can and will be as exciting and as much fun as before. Just different.