Sammy Jo (Diffendaffer) Allen, M.S., LMFT
Untold Experiences of The Retired Athlete
To the athlete who has lost an entire social network, sense of life purpose, and primary outlet for stress relief and creativity: you are not alone. Our sport often brings us some of our greatest joy and success, as well as some of our deepest pain and heartbreak. It becomes, sometimes, the thing in life we know best, and in a matter of a day we must say goodbye to a long a tumultuous relationship with a sport we have grown to love.
Retirement, for unexpected reasons such as injury or a maxed out athletic potential, can leave us feeling robbed and unfulfilled. As with the death of a loved one, perhaps we long to have had more time or struggle with regrets around certain sport-related decisions we once made. Retirement, even for those who reach the pinnacle of their careers, can come with an emptiness or in some cases a depression associated with hanging up their jerseys for the last time.
Athlete retirement often goes unacknowledged for the greater impact it can have on a person's outlook and quality of life. Much like a death or a divorce, saying goodbye to one's sport can involve a period of grief that may not be understood by those without experience in competitive sports. For athletes struggling with feelings of grief, loss, lack of motivation, social connection, and/or the adoption of new and healthy lifestyle, help is only a click away. Your worth as a human is far greater than simply your athletic success. What will you succeed at next?