I have been watching sports intently for approximately 37 of the 42 years I've been on this precious Earth. The players I grew up watching are retired, dead, coaching or in someone's studio waxing poetic about what they think they know regarding the sport they've been around their entire lives. At some point towards the end of each player's playing career, the athletic prowess they had been able to summon with relative ease gradually started failing them.
The great players like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were able to diagnose the onset of the old man's disease and make adjustments not visible to the naked eye in an effort to extend their dominance. The more marginal players were helpless against the strong gravitational pull of aging---like a piece of food trying desperately to avoid the garbage disposal before succumbing to their inevitable fate and falling down the sink. Perhaps I'm being a bit morbid here, but for any athlete on any level, the loss of athleticism does indeed represent a form of death. The part of their lives which has provided joy, financial relief and mental stability is fading away, forcing them to think about phase two of their lives at an age where people in the "regular" world are just hitting their stride. That isn't an easy reality to get used to at all. Speaking of regular people...
In the past month or so, I have noticed that I am aging. The same watchful eyes that used to notice the signs of aging in my favorite athletes have turned against me, and I'm noticing things going south with me. To be fair, I'm not 50 or 60 years old which when more demonstrative declines in physical appearance start to really kick in, but that is of no consolation to me because I am starting to notice subtle things.
My hairline is starting to erode in the corners, which directly affects how low I can wear my hair. It used to be I could rock my hair at a relatively medium length with a strong shape-up. Now, either my barber has to push my hairline back to achieve that look that I'm used to (which has me looking like a crazy man) or he has to cut it extremely low, which is fine, but it means I can't wait as long in between haircuts. As a result, I have decided to re-grow my beard as a diversion. If I'm Rick Ross-ing it with the facial hair, surely no one will notice that I'm LeBron-ing it up top right?
I've also noticed that I cannot workout once or twice a week in an effort to maintain the figure that I'd like to have. I have to eat right, exercise, sleep, be positive, and even with all that I still may not lose as much weight as I did when I was younger. And if I step up the intensity of the workouts, I may lose weight at a rapid clip, but there will be hell to pay in the soreness department.
Last month at the request of one of the people I write with, I joined a 3-on-3 basketball league. Now to you the reader, 3-on-3 sounds like a relatively low impact brand of basketball, and if I'm keeping it real (is there any other way to keep it?) I too thought this would be the case---but I was dead wrong. Full court 3-on-3 basketball is a grueling affair, especially when the two other team members who are supposed to be the reserves, do not show up and I have to run for 40 minutes (there are two 20-minute halves). Last week that happened and the next morning every part of my body was sore. But it wasn't just the soreness which kicked my ass, it was the length of time it took that soreness to disappear. As I am typing this damn blog entry, my ribs, my back, my patella tendon (I googled to figure out that part of my body) and even my neck are still hella sore, and the next game is on Sunday. When I was younger, I'd be sore two days, then I was ready to roll.
Again, I'm not old, I'm not suffering any serious illnesses and to the naked eye, my appearance is the same. But I look at myself naked in the morning every day, and I'm noticing little things that make me depressed some days, I won't lie. Everyone deals with this, so I shouldn't take it personally but it is indeed an adjustment, and I thought that writing about it would make me feel better and I was wrong.
Happy Biggie Day folks.