Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Careers: When should I retire?

In my late twenties, I witnessed a graybeard with a potbelly, a hunchback and a bad knee lurching after a rebound at the NYU gym. I was appalled. I'd already been having back problems of my own. I didn't want to end up like that. I resolved that I would quit at 30 and switch to something less taxing like swimming or tennis. But 30 came and went and I didn't retire. One evening at 33, I blew by my man, blew out my knee and sprawled into the lane. I'd never been in so much pain.

The doctor told me that I could either have ACL surgery or avoid sports with lateral movement. I chose surgery mainly because the doctor asked if I might want to play ball with my kid some day. I never intended to return to pickup ball, but the surgery and the recovery were so painful and laborious that I needed something to inspire me--and basketball became that thing. After several years of exercise and tentative forays onto the court, I'm finally playing a couple of times a week again.

But my friend Mike, who has retired, is always in the back of my mind. He just had his surgery for his third torn ACL--all from basketball. He misses the game, but not enough to risk another surgery.

The roster of the Sunday Morning Hoops Site at UT-Austin is full of knee injuries and Jason Jimerson, Professor of Pickup Basketball in Indiana, has now retired after knee surgery.

And yet I'm out there. I tell myself that it won't happen to me. I've been diligent about my rehab. I'm still doing all those leg exercises at the gym. I'm cross-training.

But after a few full-court games on Sunday, I had the worst knee pain since my surgery. I was worried at first, but it appears to be a temporary setback. Still, I should probably retire at some point. My body won't hold up forever and my game's definitely not improving (even with the addition of old man moves). But when? I still love the game. I love the movement, the complexity, the court-sense, the characters, the high-fives. I love blowing by my man. So when?

Here is you where you can post your own struggles with retirement (or non-retirement).


Jeff said...

There's no need to retire friend. We just have to find the courts where the old folks play. Or we'll start a wheelchair basketball league for lazy old guys who are tired of running.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the concept of 'retirement'. I guess what I would say is that if you no longer enjoy the competition and the comraderie then retire. Personally I doubt that will ever happen.

We have a guy who is 64 and still pretty good. As long as you can get up and down the court and hit a 15 footer there'll be a place for ya...

Harrison said...

My dad is 57 years old and still plays at least twice a week. We play on the same team together. He can't jump much, he's very slow, and he can't make a layup (seriously, he's probably a 25% shooter from within 5 feet--he's not flexible enough to shoot a quality layup), but he's an absolute inspiration. And he loves it.