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Lexi Panepinto uses her article “Without The Game” as a chance to talk about something that is never really discussed much in sports. The end of an athlete’s career is something that is not openly discussed in the lives of athletes because the end of an athlete’s career is the end of their life up until that point. Lexi describes this feeling, the end of an athlete’s career with the idea of silence. In the non-stop 21st century we live in, silence is something most people are deprived of. With morning practices, grueling lifts, the long school day and getting in extra reps in your own free time, silence can be seen to an athlete as something that is cherished and to be held close. It is something that embodies peace, serenity and a calmness that allows for one to be centered.
The silence that is loved by athletes can also, paradoxically be something that is feared. This contrasting view of silence is portrayed through the emptiness, loneliness and self isolation after the final event in an athlete’s career. The ending of an athlete’s career is the ending of an athlete’s “normal” life up until that point. The athlete’s life is no longer going to be normal because only 2% of athletes make it past college. That means that the other 98% of all athletes are going to experience this exact feeling.
For an athlete, the realization that their life is no longer going to be the same, that they can no longer compete at the elite level they have their past 4 years and the majority of their life can somewhat be seen as an identity crisis. It is important for athletes to realize that even though athletics and devotion to their sport takes up a majority of their life, that sport is not what is going to define them as a person for the rest of their life. While doing the best you can on a daily basis and being the best athlete you can is important, it is equally important for an athlete to understand and realize that the friendships, relationships and lessons gained from athletics are what defines us as people. Athletics allow for us to come together in community, compete and share our passion for the sport we play. Athletes are limited to only 4 years of a collegiate sport in college, yet it is encouraging and uplifting to know that the relationships and bonds formed from those 4 years do not have a limit.
Silence experienced by athletes at the end of their career is something we all will go through, but it is relieving to know that the silence will not last forever and the end of an athletic career is not something to be looked at with anxiety or fear. That end is the opportunity to a new beginning. Another chapter in our lives to continue to compete and forge relationships in a new arena; life.
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