College students are in the “prime of their lives,” as most older people like to tell us. However, sports are a perfect reminder that while we’re still young, we’re also aging.
Here are five signs, which I have personally experienced, that you’re getting old.
1. Your heroes start to retire.
Roy Halladay announced his retirement from baseball Monday. When the alert appeared on my phone, I couldn’t believe it. My disbelief continued when I saw that he had pitched in Major League Baseball for 16 years.
I vividly remember watching him toss a perfect game in 2010, then throw a no-hitter in the playoffs the same year. It doesn’t seem possible that it is time for him to step away from the game.
Also Monday, it was announced that Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Those three men were the best managers in baseball during my childhood. It’s hard to believe they’ve been out of the game long enough to go into the Hall of Fame.
This football season has been weird to watch without Ray Lewis patrolling the Ravens’ defense. Seeing Shaquille O’Neal on commercials instead of the basketball court makes me shake my head.
Chris Carpenter. Allen Iverson. Terrell Owens. The list goes on and on, and the more names that are added to the list, the older I feel.
2. You talk about the “good ol’ days.”
I’m not talking about the Bobby Petrino-years with the Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl. Those years were great, but the ones I remember most fondly came before Petrino.
The 2006 football season is the one many Arkansas fans, myself included, talk about the most. It is probably the greatest “What if?” in UA history.
That year, the Razorbacks went 10-4, led by a freshman quarterback named Mitch Mustain and an offensive coordinator named Gus Malzahn. Today, Malzahn is leading Auburn to a BCS National Championship game, but his one year at Arkansas was magical.
I also find myself talking about the “good ol’ days” when Bud Walton Arena had 20,000 screaming fans at every game and Brady Toops’ grand slam in 2004 kept Arkansas’ season alive.
These events seem like yesterday, but when you take a step back, you realize it was actually a long time ago.
3. Your teams affect your health.
A friend visited me over Thanksgiving break and while we were talking, she noticed a few gray hairs on my head.
She was confused as to how it was possible for someone so young to have multiple gray hairs, but I knew exactly what caused them. I had just finished watching the Arkansas-LSU football game.
Every Arkansas football, basketball and baseball game puts fans through an incredible amount of stress. Even when the Razorbacks win, it’s stressful because it’s not like Alabama football, where they roll over every opponent.
Other popular teams are very similar. The Dallas Cowboys have won or lost more games in the final two minutes than any other team I know. The St. Louis Cardinals have been very successful the last two years, but they always wait until the brink of elimination before winning.
Watching Arkansas games, as well as Cowboys and Cardinals games, has become physically draining.
4. Your high school teammates graduate.
All upperclassmen are seeing their younger high school friends graduate high school, but this is especially emotional for those that played high school sports.
As a freshman, I enjoyed going home and watching my former teammates play football on Friday nights. The guys on the field were guys I shared a locker room with just a year before.
However, they are done playing and most of them are in college, too. Even the guys that were sophomores when I was a senior are done playing. Next year, I won’t have any former teammates playing, and that’s the case for many UA students in their second year of college.
5. Your younger siblings start playing high school ball.
I am the oldest of three boys in my family. My younger brothers are three and four years younger than me, so I can remember them being dragged to all of my games in high school.
Because of the age difference, it is hard for me to fathom the fact that now I’m going to watch them play high school ball at my alma mater. When someone yells “Hutch,” they aren’t calling for me; they’re calling for one of my brothers.
Seeing my brothers make a tackle or score a basket makes me smile with pride, but it also reminds me that I am getting old.
At one time or another, all of these things make sports fans realize time isn’t stationary. Getting old is a part of sports and life.
Time for a nap.