What to Do When You're Not Ready to Quit Your Sport
Senior Games is speeding around the corners of the course at the Minnesota State Fair Grounds July 8, 2015 (©Jessica Gallagher 2015)
You played sport before: in school, in college, in your early career, and maybe even through the tricky years of parenting young kids, when there's never enough time for everyone's activities. Often other responsibilities take over, and exercise falls by the wayside for a while.
Maybe your game was softball, or basketball, tennis or golf. Maybe you ran or cycled: alone or with a group, competitively or just for the fun of participation.
The truth is that, especially if you're a competitive athlete, it becomes harder to find your tribe as you reach middle age and beyond. Once the kids are older and you have more free time, the opportunities for you don't seem to be there anymore.
Except, actually, they are.
photo courtesy National Senior Games Association
It is still possible to compete at a national level against your peers in many sports - from traditional track and field, to cycling, tennis, swimming, as well as golf, volleyball, and basketball, to name a few.
The National Senior Games was started over 30 years ago to provide meaningful competition for athletes all over the US who otherwise may have aged out of the mainstream competitions. Or for those wanting to start a sport later in life. Its founders are passionate about helping adults enjoy the health benefits from being active and participating in sport.
This week, nearly 14,000 athletes will convene at the Games, presented by Humana, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. All of them competed and qualified at State level last year to earn their place. From the youngest (50 year-olds) to the oldest (Julia Hawkins, at 103), they will take over the city for 10 days of competition, celebration, and cementing friendships.
Courtesy National Senior Games Association
Some athletes have been returning to the games each year since they started. For others, it's been a way of reinventing themselves and improving their fitness as they get older.
They all speak of the great friendships they have made through sport, the travel opportunities (The Games is held every two years, each time in a new location. In 2021 it will be in Ft Lauderdale, Florida), and the excitement that comes from competing at a national level against like-minded people. They have found their tribe.
Zibrio is sponsoring the SAFE Zone in the Convention Center this year, where athletes and spectators can come and measure their balance, learn how to improve it, and enter for the chance to win a Zibrio SmartScale for their own home.