The Happily Aging Athlete

Life in Tahoe is often viewed as Utopia but it can also be seen as a monoculture of athletes pushing the limits of every sport imaginable.  Society rewards its' addicts with adrenaline from ever crazier athletic feats.  As a PT I have worked on many of these athletes pushing the boundaries and I am just as guilty of watching in awe and applauding their accomplishments.  However, as I continue to age and hold onto being an athlete but well into my 40's, ouch,  I know my better "athletic" days are in the past.  

I am far more concerned about choosing practically and content not skiing the hardest line or biking and hitting the huge gap jumps that some make look so easy.  I'd rather get up the next day and the following week and be able to do it again.  Slower yes but with a bigger grin acknowledging the prevailing wisdom and contentment that younger generations are being forced to ignore.  I hope this post will generate some discussion, and possibly some scorn, but every year I see kids younger and younger with more traumatic ACL ruptures and dislocated shoulders than ever before and wonder will these kids even be "athletic" when they become 30?

So how can it change?  Longtime Tahoe resident, Squaw Valley skier and author of the infamous Squallywood – A Guide to Squaw Valley’s Most Exposed Lines, Dr. Rob Gaffney gave a presentation at Squaw titled "Go Bigger" about a year ago.  Images of skiers and boarders going bigger enticed the masses I am sure, but I failed to attend only to learn that by "Go Bigger" Dr. Gaffney meant something else entirely.  His presentation was about how Tahoe is missing the mark and driving kids and adults to extreme athletic feats at all costs, physically, intellectually, emotionally and arguably spiritually.  Being enticed to "go bigger" at competitions,  to produce the next great film, win the next medal or simply trying to keep up with friends without acknowledgement of the risks to themselves as well as to the detriment of culture and society seems unbecoming.  One has to question why and when will prudence return? Apparently not this election year, but that is whole other conundrum.  His presentation addressed what many of us acknowledge but fail to embrace and instill in our youth which is that there is more to life than adrenaline sports.  Yet we behave and reward the most audacious sports achievements and encourage bigger jumps, steeper lines and extremely technical tricks.  Of course I appreciate athletic feats and am in amazed at the scope of athletes' abilities but how often have we seen a life altering injury or death of an athlete performing where the margin of error is small and the consequences grave.  

I do not presume to have the answer but just suggesting that there might be more out there for your addiction:)  I love what I do but I believe it or not I would prefer to see you out there than in my office.