|Monday, July 26, 1999||
Volume 64, Issue 159
Mitchell on Grieving
Ed De La Garza
After the final score, it's just a game
Certain things happen in the world of sports that bring the eyes of fans around the world to the real lives superstar athletes have to face every day. These athletes are faced with the problems we all face. Whether it be legal problems or even medical situations, athletes must find ways to deal with them -- and sometimes that means giving up their entire career.
In 1991, Earvin "Magic" Johnson had to retire from basketball after being diagnosed with HIV. The loss of Johnson, arguably one of the best athletes in the game, was felt throughout the NBA and among his fans. Dealing with HIV is something Johnson has had to endure for the past eight years. Sadly, ending his basketball career was the first step.
In 1996, Kirby Puckett was forced to retire from baseball because of irreversible damage to the retina in his right eye. Like Johnson, Puckett was forced into retirement by a medical condition despite the fact that he had a few years left in his prime.
Last week, Sean Elliot announced that he needs a kidney transplant, a procedure that could end his NBA career. Elliot suffers from a condition called focal glomerulosclerosis. Failure to treat the disease could cause severe, prolonged loss of protein into the urine.
Elliot is coming off the best season of his life after helping lead the San Antonio Spurs to their first NBA Championship title last month. Unfortunately, the Spurs must face this sad reality just weeks after the mantras of support died down.
Instances like these show us how trivial sports can be. Athletes who have trained to compete at the highest level go on the field or court to play their hearts out. But that's just self-satisfaction for the athletes and entertainment for the fans.
Athletes entertain us. They give us something to cheer for and look forward to. They give us a reason to come together and celebrate.
But most important, they remind us that it's just a game and that we can't always whine about cheap fouls and lousy plays.
When we leave the ballparks, arenas and stadiums that are center stage for our favorite athletes, we are brought back to reality, where we must be thankful for everything we are fortunate to have.