MMA: Should Athletes Listen to The Fans On When To Retire?

Andrew GladstoneCorrespondent IJanuary 24, 2011

Courtesy of Zuffa
Courtesy of Zuffa

I've been finding myself questioning my own logic when it comes to performers and athletes retiring as of late.

As a fan, for years I admittedly have complained about fighters who suffer defeat far too many times, have been in too many wars and have shown signs of physically breaking down.

The general consensus amongst the MMA community seems to be that if a fighter can't perform consistently at a high level, that he either sucks or he's far past his prime and needs to hang it up.

While I'm certainly not innocent here myself on the subject with calling certain fighters to retire, but as of late, I've felt a change of heart.

I believe that very few people in this world get to do what they love, much less get paid for it.  Even if a fighter can no longer be world champion or elite, if the opportunity to fight presents itself, they should still take full advantage of it.

Imagine yourself as a martial artist, who has dedicated their entire life to fighting.  Are you going to stop competing because fans don't want to see you get hurt?  Or are you going to keep doing what you love, because it makes you happy?  

Life is a journey and on that journey, there will always be risks that may lead to rewards or losses. 

Win or lose, a fighter loves what he does and still gets paid for it.  That isn't something that most people can walk away from.

A fighter should be in control of his life, and as fans, I believe we need to know when to back off. 

I believe it's the doctors and the athletic commissions that have to be in charge and realistically tell a fighter what he can and can't do.  The doctors and officials have to seriously examine the fighters and if they can't compete, they must take away or deny their fighting licenses.

Also, it is the job of organizations that hire these fighters that are past their prime, to be realistic and to acknowledge the limitations of these athletes. 

As fans, we all have our favorites and some of us may even have heroes and we don't want to see them suffer, so we call for their retirement.  While it's good that we care, we're still telling another human being how to live their life and to quit their passion.

In conclusion, I feel that fighters need to dictate their own lives and end their careers on their own terms and as much as we may not like seeing our heroes lose, we need to sit and consider them as human beings and not just larger than life characters that need to be perfect.