August 29, 2016

What's Next After The Olympics by Bob Jones

Eight days have passed since the closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympic Games. What happens to the athletes after they return home? What about those who didn’t win a medal or were injured or who now plan to retire? Is there life after the Olympics?

Steven Portenga, director of sport psychology services at the University of Denver says, "It's not uncommon for a lot of Olympic athletes to come back and go through depression for a little while, because they don't know what's next.”

My two sons competed in football – one for eighteen years and one for seventeen. I was their coach for much of their careers and their biggest fan at all of their games. When they played their final down of University football we faced our "what's next" moment.

I think I had a harder time after their final game than they did. Many of my August to November Saturdays, from 2001 to 2009, were pleasantly occupied with traveling to Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver to see them play. Was there life after football…for me?

I’ve missed coaching. It took a couple of years before I wouldn’t get the itch come August to go to a pre-season High School practice just to be around the athletes. One day I’ll put my coaches hat back on and enjoy the gridiron sidelines again.

Thinking about life after the Olympics or football brought me to the realization that there is no “life after writing.” Writing is a highly engaging, highly intense and highly rewarding activity that is seemingly endless. Writing is a marathon rather than a sprint.

Writers need never retire. As long as a writer can hold a pen or type on a keyboard or dictate their thoughts, they can stay “in the game” as long as they want.

That’s not to say that writers won’t experience a season in their life when they feel like giving up on writing.  Discouragement, dry spells, distractions or rejection letters from publishers can make the writing life a grind.

Ryan Hall, an American Olympic marathoner, went through a tough two-year period where he wasn't performing well on the track or in the classroom at Stanford. Depressed, he left for a quarter and went home, unsure that he would return. But his depression only worsened.

He went back to school and kept pushing through. Hall said that it's important for athletes to “give themselves time to work through” the hard times.

That’s good advice for Olympians and writers.

Push through! Write on!

Robert (Bob) W. Jones is a recovering perfectionist, who collects Coca-Cola memorabilia and drinks Iced Tea. His office walls are adorned with his sons’ framed football jerseys, and his library shelves, with soul food. He writes to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose.

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  1. I loved this post - not only because it offers such encouragement for us as writers - but also because I was pleasantly surprised to find another football fan among us! As a coach I am sure you have a greater grasp of all the finer details and can pick out all the defensive patterns etc. (Something that always escapes me until the commentators explain what just happened!) Football is such a game of fine tuned strategy - something a lot of folks don't realize. They think it is just a bunch of jocks head butting each other!
    Anyway, before I get too far off track, let me just say I am sorely sick of the offensive pass interference rules recently implemented in the CFL... My personal rant.

    1. I like the CFL (Esks, Alouettes) and the NFL (Patriots, Packers) and love the CIS and NCAA ('Bama, FSU, Penn State).

      You're right about football players getting a bad rap. Anyone who listened to the QBs' and coaches who wore microphones in the Calgary/Hamilton game were reminded that players have to recall and react in seconds to 100's of play calls while in a heightened state of pain, fatigue and either elation or depression knowing full well the opposition want to destroy them once the next whistle blows.

      The game is so much slower this year wit the challenge flags, and reviews and increased penalties.

      The Fri. game between Esks and Riders was over 3 hours.

      Thank you for commenting and hosting this site.


    2. I know. I watched it. (I'm originally from Sask so you know where my loyalties lie!) I agree - the flags are flying far too often. it's frustrating for those of us who enjoy the game and aren;t onside for all these recent rule changes. Apparently it was to increase scoring and thereby the fan base. Really?!?!
      I suppose my NFL team would be the Patriots, although I rather like the Ravens as well. Although I never really cheered for the Colts or the Broncos, who can't help but love Payton Manning?
      Enough football talk. My apologies to the rest of contributors who probably want to focus on the real meat of the post!

  2. Your last line made me chuckle, Tracy. Yes! Although I don't know the football calls or plays or whatever, I got the gist of how one could suffer from withdrawal symptoms from something you have loved, enjoyed and felt part of. Then it is sort of over, depending on where you chose to go from there. Now, Bob, you can attend a game, or not. . . Maybe you'll have grandchildren who will love the game as you do.

    I found it encouraging to read your thoughts about writers never needing to retire. I pray that I will have the strength, stamina, and mental acuity to keep in the game for some time to come. Thanks.


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