The love an athlete has for their sport is what drives them to become the best athlete they can be. However, when certain circumstances arise and effect that passion, they have to make a hard decision whether or not to leave the game.
After six seasons in the NFL, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck lost his joy playing football. During his time in the NFL, Luck had suffered through torn cartilage in two ribs, a partially torn abdomen, a lacerated kidney, concussions and a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. He could not catch a break.
Luck decided to retire this offseason at 29-years-old. The reasoning behind his decision was that these injuries during his career took his joy away from the game. He said he was not able to live the life he wanted to. His life consisted of constant physical rehabilitation, both during the regular and the offseason. The decision Luck made was something he said was the right one, because it was good for his mental and physical health.
Former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland made a similar decision back in 2015. Concerned for his health, he retired at 24. Football is an aggressive sport, and it is essential for the players to take care of themselves mentally and physically. When constantly getting hit, a person’s body is not always able to fully recover, no matter how long they rehab.
“After 2016 when I played in pain and was unable to practice regularly, I made a vow that I would not go down that path again,” Luck said in his retirement press conference. “I find myself in a similar situation, and the only way forward for me is to remove myself from football.”
When news broke during the Colts preseason game against the Chicago Bears, Luck walked off the field being booed by his own fans. It’s heartbreaking to watch any person who has put so much effort into something they love receive negative reactions from fans. Even still, Luck said this was the right decision for him, and the fans should’ve been more supportive toward him.
Luck’s decision gives athletes around the world dealing with injuries a role model to follow if their love isn’t in the game anymore. It’s important that an athlete remembers to always take care of their mental and physical health. It’s OK to let the game go, and to move on if it is the best decision for them. There are always other ways to contribute outside of playing, and just because you have left the game doesn’t mean the game has left you.