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Retirement tours are the new norm for athletes

Kobe Bryant
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

I don’t know if I like them, hate them, or really don’t have an extreme opinion about them. I do know that “retirement tours” are taking over the sports world. Between Derek Jeter, Kobe Bryant, David Ortiz, and Charles Woodson, some of sports’ biggest names have gone with this different approach when it comes to retirement, maybe to help themselves part from their game.

We’ve gone away from the press conferences after a season is over where players sit down and tell everyone that they’re officially done and they’ve given all they can to the sport. Fans always looked forward to players like Michael Jordan (in his first or second retirement) or Brett Favre (again, first or second retirement) sitting down in front of the media and spilling their emotions in a heartfelt announcement. It added to their careers having that final moment where they said they were done and rode off into the sunset.

Now, players have decided to do these announcements before their final season starts or halfway through their last hurrah. Personally, as a fan, I prefer these solely because it almost forces athletes to stay true to their word. Fans celebrate every time Kobe or Jeter come to their arena or stadium for the last time, knowing they’re seeing history. It lets the athletes know they’re finished, and that they have nothing that they need to do or see. The fans accept it, and have the chance to appreciate the moment.

If athletes wait until after the season to announce it, they (see Jordan or Favre) feel inclined to come back to make sure they don’t miss anything. They don’t get all the hype they deserve, and then hurt their reputations by not being able to accept the end of their careers. It’s a lose-lose. Jordan got to experience the retirement tour in his last season with the Wizards because everyone knew he had nothing more to give, but it may have been hindered by his previous retirements, and who knows what would have happened if he stayed in Chicago for his entire career. Same goes for Favre, where he could’ve ended his career in Green Bay, and rode off into the sunset with a true retirement. But, he couldn’t let it go and let it linger through (successful) trips to New York and Minnesota.

Obviously not all players go through those retirements like Jordan and Favre, but also not everyone deserves a retirement tour. I’m afraid athletes will take advantage of it and overuse it, taking away from the positive effect some of them have. Eventually, fans will get sick of them, and athletes who deserve the recognition won’t get it. Hopefully we see a nice mix of the two announcements, and give stars the attention they deserve after successful careers.

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