Last weekend, a friend and I were chatting on the phone, chuckling over a Facebook post wondering about people’s favorite athletes in a sport.
We had a good laugh when the athletes names were all within the last 10-12 years – until we both realized that the athletes named were, in fact, seniors 12 years ago.
“Let’s face it,” my friend said. I finished with her, “We’re getting old.”
Technically speaking, I’m most likely in the middle of my life, with my early years well behind me and hopefully my golden years well ahead. But when we both finished that sentence together, it dawned on me that really, she’s right.
I’ve spent more than two decades in this profession, now going on three. In that time, I’ve worked covering sports – both at a high school and NCAA level – and news. I became a community editor close to a decade ago, and I’ve now been in Aitkin for well over a year.
In some ways, I feel as young as I did in college, even if I can’t swim massive numbers of laps in the pool or climb trees anymore. But while people may comment that age is just a number, I find myself feeling old in terms of experience.
Before, I mentioned sports stars. When I was just 10, Mary Lou Retton won Olympic gold in Los Angeles. I remember watching the infamous literal run-in between Mary Decker and Zola Budd – and the glorious U.S. medal count after the Soviet Union chose to boycott.
It wasn’t until I was much older – actually, just in the last few years – that I truly began to appreciate the harm done to athletes both in that 1984 boycott and in the 1980 U.S.-led boycott of Moscow. I can understand now that for a moment of Olympic glory, there are dozens of heartbreaks to accompany that moment.
Now three months into 2021, we are finally in sight – a year later than expected – of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. It will be the 16th Olympic cycle I’ve lived through (thanks to the International Olympic Committee breaking up the Winter and Summer Olympics) and I have memories of them all.
What truly makes me feel my age is knowing that the Olympics that I first truly remember well feature athletes that are older than I am. In fact, some of those Olympians have died. Others I’ve been blessed to get a chance to meet and be reminded of a simple fact – they are human just like me.
But I look back now, and in spite of my best efforts, I need to recognize that while I’m getting closer to the half-century mark, many of the athletes I grew up admiring as a child are already past it.
What’s worse is that today’s generation doesn’t know those names like I do. Ain’t it a shame...