Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Letting Go But Keeping The Spirit

As graduation approaches, I am faced with several fears. Among these are questions such as “Will I ever find a job?” and “Am I still going to be living with my parents 20 years from now?” But foremost among my fears is “Will I ever be that guy?”

You know the guy I’m talking about. You’ve probably known him for most your life. He seems to follow you from one stage to the next. I’m talking about the guy who just won’t let go.

In elementary school there was always the one eighth-grader who used to hang around with his cousin in the second grade and knock over everyone else’s building blocks. In high school, there was the 25-year-old who still hadn’t graduated and would go to all the freshmen parties.

College seems to bring out the best of this group, from the benign – like the old guys who hang out at your favorite bar – to the creepy – like the middle-aged men who walk around the beach at spring break with their video cameras.

Sports, like college, are connected to a certain period of your life and provide us with a lot of those guys.

My freshman year, soon after arriving at college, I was talking to my high school buddy J-Dubs, recently corrupted by matriculation at Duke, when I asked him if he had seen any famous basketball players around campus. “Well,” he answered, “I did see Christian Laettner . He was down at the gym, trash-talking a bunch of fat kids he was playing pick up with.”

Unfortunately, there are a lot of guys like Christian – guys who can’t get used to the fact that they’re no longer in the prime of their career or that they just couldn’t quite make it at the next level. The guys who were great in college and suck in the pros. The source of their frustrations is clear. Fortunately, we don’t need to have sympathy for them since most of them went to Duke.

What’s really sad is when a once-great player just can’t call it quits or just lets himself fade slowly. Some players can stay great, or at least good, into middle age. But for every Reggie Miller or Randy Johnson, there’s a Ricky Henderson or Doug Flutie.

We all know who these people are, so there’s no need for me to name more names. Whether you’re a pro athlete or a one-time Pop Warner great, sooner or later, you have to know when your time is passed.

My fear of being that guy raises some questions. For instance, is it all right to come back to cheer for your college sports teams? Of course it is, given that once you’re past the age of, let’s say 40, you no longer paint your chest and flash the crowd . at least not too often.

The great thing about sports is that you can watch them and enjoy them long after you’re even able to play them. It still fills me with a certain amount of despair to realize that I’ll soon be older than any college athlete, but let’s face it: I, and most of us, could never compete at the top level at any age. We can still enjoy watching athletes play without thinking we’ll ever be as good as them.

So for all those pro athletes who are holding on a little longer than they should be, I say, relax, let go. Be content being a spectator. Enjoy your past glory, but don’t get caught up in it. Unless you’re really sure you can do at 45 what you did at 26, maybe you should call it quits.

Maybe it’s time for me to say goodbye.

Dan Leff is a senior in the School of Foreign Service and can be reached at This is his final Out of Leff Field.

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