My Dad stopped playing club cricket when he was about 32, around 1949. He was brought up in Australia and was ultra competetive. When the second world war came along, it put an end to his club cricket in Australia when he joined the Royal Australian Air force and found himself serving in Bomber Command. He regularly played cricket in the forces. When he left the air force, he played for a while for Finchley Cricket Club. He told me that he knocked it on the head, when he realised that he was losing his pace as a fast bowler. To him, if he couldn't excel, it was no fun. He played cricket a couple of times after that, usually filling in and doing someone a favour, but didn't really enjoy it. He said to me ' The most important lesson of all is when to hang up your gloves.' This was in relation to Mohammed Ali coming out of retirement for 'one last bout'. My Dad was horrified as he was a massive admirer of Ali's boxing and felt that not only did it damage his legacy, it put him at physical risk. Ali lost his last two professional fights and it is likely that many of his health problems in later life were due to injuries in the latter part of his career (in the early years, it was rare for anyone to lay a glove on him).
|Me and my sweetheart planning for the future
As someone who is distinctly average at sports, giving up professional sports was never a problem for me. I still play five a side football (rather badly). Of late, having turned 60 last year, I am forever being asked when I will hang up my boots. For me, I don't mind my performance level dropping. It keeps me fit and keeps me active. The answer is 'until I physically can't play anymore or no one wants to play with me'. Last week, I played for the first time in a month. With all of the Xmas excesses, I found myself out of breath almost as soon as I'd tied my bootlaces. My reaction was not to give up. It was a wake up call that I needed to get back to gym a little more seriously.
I also play music in a Ska/Punk band. Again, the question keeps coming "Isn't it time you hung up the guitar". Anyone who saw our shows last year will (hopefully), have concluded that we still are well capable of entertaining an audience. In fact my personal view is that our recent recordings have been far better than anything we've done in our career. We've written good songs before, but we are in a rich vein of creativity and the band sounds great.
So when will I hang up the guitar and the boots? The answer is easy, when I no longer am enjoying it. Why on earth would anyone stop doing something they enjoy if they don't have to? I wonder how many people stop doing stuff because they simply think they are too old. When I was 40, I had an excruciatingly painful groin operation, as I'd damaged it playing football. The surgeon said "why are you putting yourself through this, you are not a professional and you are not young". I said that I thought I had another 10-15 years enjoyment left and a bit of pain now was worth it. I've beaten that by five years, so even if I break my leg tonight and have to hang up my boots, I'm up on the deal.