As I was searching for something to write this blog on, I came across two articles that really struck me. The first was an article about Taylor Twellman, a former professional soccer player for the New England Revolution and US Men’s National Team. Twellman was forced to retire in 2009 due to post-concussion syndrome. The truly sad part of his story is that his team’s trainer “ignored his symptoms of multiple concussions, even sending him back on the field after he said, “I have a concussion,” following the hit that eventually forced him to retire.” It took visits to six neurologists before his concussions were properly diagnose and he had to spend nine months in a dark room, unable to watch TV or walk his dog, and was nauseated every day for two years.”
The second article addressed discussions the NBA is having about changing the eligibility age to 20 or two years remove from high school. The NBA and NCAA feel that another year in college ball would give prospective players a greater chance of being prepared to play professional basketball. They maintain that the change would improve the level of play seen within the league; the same argument that they used when upping the minimum age to 19 in 2005.
What really struck me about these two articles is the lack of compassion shown for athletes as human beings. It appears that sport franchises are neglecting to think about their athlete’s lives post-professional career. Most professional athletes are lucky if they can play into their mid 30s and very few athletes have the multi-million dollar contracts that athletes like Kobe Bryant or David Beckham have. Twellman has been fortunate to recover enough that he can maintain a career as an analyst for ESPN, but what if he had been unable to? Athletes need to have a contingency plan for life after sports because a majority of them will have to work in ‘real world’ post athletic career. How would the public react to the NBA increasing the age limit if they said it would help athletes have skills to fall back on after their career is over? I guess what these articles got me wondering is what can we do to help enhance an athlete’s life after sport.