It comes as no surprise when a professional athlete decides to call it a career after their skill level begins to diminish. But with the financial security that most of them enjoy, what is the motivation to continue to punish their bodies once they have earned enough money to support a small country? The main question is, will escalating salaries in sports continue to shorten careers?
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There are several obvious reasons for an athlete to announce their retirement. Severe injury, a decline in skill level, and a loss for the love of the game are some of the common reasons. But if money is no longer an issue, what is it that forces a person to deal with aches and pains, the travel, and the constant pressure?
As the story of Adam Laroche continues to be newsworthy, and with several players in the NFL retiring very early in their careers due to fear of life-altering injuries, it seems like the decision to retire early is getting to be easier.
Does this mean that professional sports careers are becoming closer to college careers? Maybe.
When you look at the dynamics of professional sports, and what goes into the daily grind of a season, you start to understand why a player would want to retire. The love of the game aside, athletes are subjected to constant travel during the season and are normally away from their families for extended periods of time.
Even if a fan believes that the money that is made will “buy away” that pain, humans are humans. And starting a family, only to leave them for six months is difficult. The idea that an athlete can video conference, and has enough money to fly their family out to see them constantly is somewhat ludicrous.
It’s very true that the professional athletes of today make a lot more than their predecessors. But the family dynamic has not changed, and it isn’t out of the ordinary for someone to want to spend as much time with them as they can.
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Which leads us to the main issue, where is the carrot at the end of the stick to motivate a player to continue?
Once a top draft pick in any sport signs their first deal, they most often have all they need for the rest of their lives if they are financially smart. They can lead a normal life, away from the spotlight and pressures, and still be financially secure, so a second contract isn’t really necessary.
Now this isn’t an article advocating a lowering of salaries. Just like actors and actresses, the compensation has been set, it’s not going down. But this article is intended more to prepare the fans for shortened careers into the future. It just seems to be a likely trend in all sports.