Commentary; The National Football League season will soon begin. For many Americans, this event feels like Christmas and Birthday time all rolled into one.
But something has happened to dampen the enthusiasm a bit for even some of the most die-hard fans. NFL star quarterback Andrew Luck shocked the sports world by announcing he’s walking away from football.
At an age when elite athletes are at their prime and winning championships, Mr. Luck is leaving his game. He cited the toll that football has already taken upon his body and mind, and his need to re-center his life in a very different direction.
Some observers applauded his decision as courageous. Others criticized him as quitting, including some loud Indianapolis Colts fans at his home stadium who booed him and unmistakably voiced their displeasure.
This kind of negative reaction sadly reveals how some fans look upon players in any professional sport more as pieces of meat whose purpose is to perform for fan’s entertainment instead of viewing players as human beings with a need to prioritize health and well-being and family.
Many NFL players today can make a fortune of money in a short period of time with multi-million dollar contracts now the norm. They can be financially set for life after just a few years if they choose to. They won’t feel the need to put their physical and mental health in jeopardy for as long as they might have years ago.
Fans will always have passion for their teams. But health and family and peace of mind should be the greatest priority for everyone at any age. Fans will be seeing shorter careers for their hometown heroes. Players will be finding new life paths while still being young men.
What’s needed here is also what’s needed in our world at large. Everyone can benefit from a good dose of understanding, self-examination, and reflection.
Mr. Luck found something for him more important than winning a Super Bowl. That displays a rare courage to trade away millions of dollars in guaranteed earnings and a joyless path for him that others expected him to follow and instead choose a new life and new beginning with much different priorities. There is a great lesson in what he has done.