Sports place a physical and mental toll on athletes


When is it OK to quit? Is it when your passion for the game runs out, or is it when your body can not take the brutal six month seasons? Is it okay to give up on a fan base when you have had enough or when they feel satisfied?

The truth is it’s okay to quit when you feel that you have completed your job and done enough. In the case of Andrew Luck, former quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, his retirement should upset no one. He brought a team, which was 2-14 in the 2011 season, to an 11-5 record in the 2012 season and a trip to the AFC playoffs. Luck gave his all to the Colts organization, but when he retired, the fan base broke out in chaos. This is simply unacceptable, especially when the reason for Luck’s retirement was due to health concerns. Whenever an athlete retires, the timing is never perfect.

The mental toll of rehabbing yet another injury adds up, as Luck noted in his retirement speech.

“I’m in pain – I’m still in pain,” said Luck. “It’s been four years of this pain, rehab cycle. It’s a myriad of issues — calf strain, posterior ankle impingement, high ankle sprain. Part of my journey going forward will be figuring out how to feel better.”

Luck lived in pain even during the off season. The fans saw a smile on his face, but did not know the pain behind the smile.

An athlete should be able to step away whenever he or she wants to, not when the fans feel like it’s right. Fans tend to think that athletes are just athletes, but they do not take into consideration that these athletes have a family and a normal life. Imagine waking up with sharp pains every day just to satisfy people you will never meet. The physical pain that athletes endure is not healthy, and no one should have to wake up everyday feeling like they have been hit by a truck.

The Indianapolis Colts fans booed as they found out Luck decided to retire. The fans did not have to wake up in the same pain that Luck woke up with. The fans did not have to do the same rehab treatment that Luck had to nor did they have the countless surgeries that Luck had to go through.

I could see why the Colts fan base was angry with Luck’s surprise decision. He just signed a five-year contract extension for 140 million dollars. His team was a Superbowl favorite, and he retired right after a very successful season. In the midst of all of this, the fans did not sit back and think of everything that Andrew Luck gave them. He gave them four winning seasons with an all-time record of 53-33.

Many NFL players retire at an early age, Rob Gronkowski, Calvin Johnson Jr. and Barry Sanders are just some who come to mind. All of these players were constantly injured and in rehab. The mental toll it takes on a player to go through rehab, get back on the field, get injured and start the process all over again can be draining. Some ex-NFL players described the day after a football game like waking up after a car wreck. Their bones would ache and body would be stiff. Many said it was not worth the millions of dollars to wake up every day and feel older than what you really are.

We, the fans, should not judge these players when they chose to retire due to the pain. Fans should support these athletes and thank them for everything they have done. Luck’s retirement was a surprise, to say the least, but we should not bash him for it. Instead, we should praise him for giving up millions in order to live a healthy pain-free life.