When Match Fitness Isn’t Enough: Is Playing Professional Sports Walking A Knife-Edge?

match fitness

When the body says “It’s enough” and the coach asks for more - top athletes must decide whether they want to push their physiological capabilities to the limits and become disabled after the end of their careers, or not. 

Whenever we find out about the decision of a professional athlete that he/she finished his/her sports career on the threshold of the age of 30, we are very surprised because it’s considered that they did it too early, at the very peak of their abilities, while they were match fit. 

Cricket player Kevin Pietersen, who played 275 internationals for England, leaves no doubt regarding when athletes can still be sure they got what it takes to compete on a high level, and recently told Betway the following: 

“I was always asking myself a series of questions: How do I feel in training? Have I got the ability to defend the best ball that a bowler could run into a bowl at me when I walk out into the middle? Or have I not? If so, where do I need to focus my attention?”

However, everything becomes clear when it’s learned that in recent seasons athletes have spent more time on scanners and stethoscopes than with the ball. Injuries followed one another, whether it was an ankle, a knee, abdominal surgery, or some of the many other misfortunes that contributed to a certain great athlete saying goodbye to sports fields much earlier than he/she should have. 

When Too Early Is Actually On Time 

It may be too early but is still on time, because these athletes manage to avoid the fate of some of their colleagues, including those who were forced to visit hospitals and rehabilitation centers regularly, and even to “hang out” with crutches and wheelchair. 

Frequent injuries of those athletes, who don’t recognize that it’s time for the end, can prevent them from continuing to do some other job after a successful career and thus, ensure their existence. 

Playing top sports, whose requirements exceed the physiological capabilities of the organism, especially in modern times, usually represents walking on the edge of a knife. Most experts agree that the human body isn’t able to respond to the challenges, especially nowadays, when athletes are expected to be in top shape all the time and when competition seasons last longer and training becomes harder and more demanding. 

For example, the top results of athletes who built their careers during the 70s and 80s of the last century would be only within the limits of the average today. We can only assume what their current colleagues will face, athletes who have much greater efforts and expectations before them. What will their body and organism look like when one day they end their careers and reach more mature years? 

What Happens When Athletes Are Carried Away By Glory? 

Sport has long been turned into an ordinary display of strength. Everything is so commercialized and there’s so much insistence on better results that athletes have turned into a kind of modern gladiators, who spend most of their youth in gyms and sports halls. 

Sport has ceased to be recreation and entertainment but has become hard physical work, which requires a lot of knowledge and skills, mostly shed sweat. The burdens are so great that it’s illusory to expect that all this could pass without any consequences. 

Athletes themselves have also contributed to that because, carried away by the glory that has illuminated them or is yet to happen to them, consciously or not, they often cross the limits of their own possibilities. And what consequences remain is best seen by the fact that most of them become empty personalities after retirement. 

Most miss the opportunity to prepare in time for the end of an active sports career, which is an act traumatic enough itself. Until yesterday, they were celebrated and praised, sometimes they believe that they are special in everything, and then they face the truth that they were interesting and important only while they were competing. After that, many don’t even know what to do with themselves, fall into lethargy and depression, and even, in some situations, think about suicide. 

The only way to prevent that is to start thinking about it in time, to prepare and face reality two or three years earlier, that is, to find some purpose for their later existence in life outside of sports arenas. 

The fact is, however, that no one cares about retired athletes and that their fate, as a rule, takes place far from the public eye. No one has yet launched an initiative to monitor the health status of athletes after the active termination of their careers. These results would be of great importance for those who still play sports. That should be in everyone’s interest, right?

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