Sports, Games, and Play: Social and Psychological Viewpoints

By Jeffrey H. Goldstein | Go to book overview

7 The Elderly Jock
and How He Got That Way

Frank Winer

I am an elderly jock. I'm 60 years old, and I play tennis and volleyball regularly and avidly. Occasionally, I play paddleball, and when I do, it is with similar enthusiasm. I look forward eagerly to Sunday mornings and Tuesday evenings, which are my regular playing times for tennis and volleyball. As a matter of fact, Tuesdays are generally made pleasant by the anticipation of the evening, and I'm so eager that I usually have prepared my gym bag well in advance of leaving home for the gym. I feel like a kid sometimes; I will play whenever I have the chance. If for some reason I am unable to play when scheduled, I am quite disappointed. I do not take missing my scheduled athletic times lightly, and even when I am away on a pleasant vacation with my wife, I experience occasional twinges at missing my regular games. My tennis racquet accompanies me on vacations so that I can play if I am fortunate enough to encounter the possibility.

For the past several years a heart condition has required that I play less strenuously. Of several adjustments that I have had to make following my illness, the requirement to ease up is the most difficult. In play, I am often in conflict. I have a very hard time holding myself in check, and I am frequently unsuccessful. Sometimes after an effort that I should not have made, I feel scared, and, for short periods, withdrawn and self preoccupied. Some day, I will have to quit volleyball and tennis, probably in that order. When that happens, I will feel some relief from conflict, but I know also that I will feel miserable. I am prepared to allow myself to be miserable; I am even going to insist on it and permit myself to mourn the ending of my competitive athletic participation, because such an event merits mourning. But, I hope that soon after I retire as an active participant, I will be healthy

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