I WATCHED a fair bit of football at the weekend. Tip of the cap to all the county streaming services up and down the country, it’s done wonders for getting eyes on games.
A potentially unintended consequence of that, is that it’s in turn multiplied the “better in my day” crowd.
After being treated to a Canavan wonder-show on Sunday, I couldn’t help but overhear two men who’d been playing as recently as 2020 criticising how the game has changed.
“It’s all zonal. Men running past the fella on the ball.They don’t want contact. It’s turning into the NBA.”
“I couldn’t play that dung. They’ve taken the hits out of it. Physicality isn’t like it was.”
“And there’s no room for any mavericks. Coaching the football out of these boys.”
Now a reminder, we’d just watched Ruairi and Darragh Canavan spearhead an incredible performance from Errigal Ciaran against a renowned footballing side in Dungannon when this conversation was taking place.
So, these boys were talking nonsense.
It’s not an uncommon topic of chat though, that’s the thing. And it quite often circles back to a point I’ve made with hundreds of retired athletes over the years –
“Let your past stay in the past. It’s their turn to play their game, and be excited that it’s your turn to play a new one.”
Quit clinging on to your era of football being the greatest. Your training the most gruelling. Your effort unmatched.
And have a quick think back if you remember the men who’d hung up their boots while you playing saying the same thing.
Instead of begrudging what you’re watching double down on what you could be doing.
I had a friend send me a message last Monday after getting beat out of the championship the day before.
He reckoned that there was a fair chance that he was done with the game, and he knows I work with retired players so what should he do now. Run a marathon? Do an Ironman? Start BJJ?
That question of “what now?” is one that leaves so many people stuck in retirement limbo. And drags so many people back into the “better in my day” mentality.
You haven’t had to give yourself a reason to train in 20 years, cut yourself a little slack if you don’t come up with an answer straight away.
But a sure-fire way to not get out of that limbo space is by hanging on to the identity of who you were and not stepping into the identity of who you could be.
I can guarantee that if you were in the shape of your life, had a training goal to work towards, full of energy and embracing the journey you’d take a lot more enjoyment out of watching how the games played now instead of tearing it down.