Is "retirement" a scary word for pro athletes?

Alan CampbellCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2008

When you think of retirement, you think of, vacation, relaxation, pretty much just doing nothing.  But, for pro athletes, when they think of retirement, they think,   " What am I going to do when this is all done?"

Pro athletes in our world today have such a hard time letting go of the game they love, that it is not uncommon to see a player come back out of retirement and keep playing.

Look at for example, Dominic Hasek from the Stanley Cup Champions Detroit Red Wings.  He came out of retirement, played for a few more years in the N.H.L, and now just won another championship, before retiring again.

Some players haven't even thought of the notion of retirement.  One player that comes to mind is Chris Chelios.  He is 46 years old, and says he is in the best shape of his life.  In this years Stanly Cup playoffs, he was older than both coaches on either teams.  The media and fans alike are wondering when this work horse will retire, but because of his persistent hard work ethic he managed to stay around the league a  little bit longer, and it has benefited him by winning a Stanley Cup this year with Detroit.

I believe that when a players starts to think of retirement, than it is time for that player to retire.  If you love the game that you are playing so much, you should never have the thought of retirement come across your mind, until you feel like you just can't contribute any longer.  Athletes should retire when they are at the top of their game, so the fans and media alike will remember that player for his amazing contributions to the game, and not for sticking around until his/her mid 40's, retire and then have the fans not remember the best years of the players career.

Some players just don't know when to retire.  Players always have that question in the back of their minds wondering if they really gave it their all.  Some players retire without setting any records, without winning a championship, but are fan favorites and that is all they need to know that they played their heart and soles out for the game they love, and can retire knowing that.  For example Doug Gilmour, when he played for the Toronot Maple Leafs he never won a championship there, but the fans loved this guy for his hard work ethic and contribution to the game.

Players have that fear of retirement because they have put so much into their sport, that they know nothing else.  You see a lot of players today that retire, come back to the game that they love and either work in the front office with scouting, or they even actually become coaches.  This is a very common procedure for players to retire, then a few years later come back and work with the team in some shape or form.

Players never actually retire from the sport, they retire from the game.  Because when you love something so much, you never want to let it go, and that is the trend of athletes now a days.  Their not afraid of taking the next step in life,  they are afraid that they didn't give it their all and they want to come back and try it one more time.

It's like the old saying goes, "the mind is more powerful than the body".  For these athletes that retire and want to give it one more shot to prove that they still have what it takes to compete, good for them.  I just hope that by coming back and playing that fans don't have huge expectations of these players.

For players that decide to come out of retirement and play again, I wish them the best of luck, but I hope that the fans will always remember the contributions to the sport the athlete made during their prime, and not during their comeback era.