Ageing Like Fine Wine
Zlatan Ibrahimović, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo……
Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal…….
Lebron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony……
Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Räikkönen…….
Chris Gayle, MS Dhoni…..Tom Brady and the list goes on….
It is 2021, and the sporting world still rejoices in the brilliance of its global veterans; who, it seems, have been around in the public eye for eternity. It isn’t merely that these players have been around for a while; rather how these perennial winners have dominated their respective sports at such an age. These seasoned pros are highly decorated and still possess the youthful exuberance to keep ‘Living the dream’.
Be it the 44-year old Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time with 7 Super Bowl victories to his name, the most recent coming in February 2021; or arguably the GOAT of basketball – Lebron James, chasing his 5th NBA Title with the Lakers while still throwing down monstrous dunks; or the puppeteers of the footballing world – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, for whom the world is their audience and the green ground with 2 rectangular boxes at each end, their stage; these players never cease to amaze us with their grit, endurance, and passion for the sport.
While the longevity of these players is a blessing for the sport, it acts as a testament to the advancement of diagnosis and rehabilitation technologies available to heal injuries suffered in these sports. The sporting medical industry has been on the rise in the past decade and is a well-respected profession nowadays. The medical staff at these teams and clubs earn their pennies well by giving commendable treatment and addressing each medical issue with intensive care.
However, despite all of its positives; the dominance of these icons does put a dent in the progress of those young talents full of potential. In team sports, the decision to field a young inexperienced talent or an aged superstar in the team is no longer a tough one. While the younger lads have the legs and stamina over older ones, these superstars compensate for it by their sheer class and knowledge of the sport. These young players spend a lot of time on the sidelines and are sacrificed to accommodate the big names in the playing squad. One might argue that these players deserve their spots solely based on the fact that they are better than the others; however, the inchoate players need playing time to blossom and fulfil their potential.
This also throws the question of Experience vs Raw Talent into the debate. However, it is not to say that there is a dearth of opportunities for the younger players. The ones who take the game by storm and make people notice are given their chance to shine.
At the end of the day, be it the veterans or the younger players; the sporting world is illuminated with the pool of talent, just waiting to be dipped into. All we as mere viewers can do is to sit back on our couches in the comfort of our homes and let these “Sporting Icons” do their thing while they still can before they hang up their boots; who knows when it might be the last time we cheer for them with all our might and stay awake late into nights glued to our screens watching them mystify us. The fan in me dreads that final game….