My wife and I have been enjoying the World Cup. We do not watch sports that often, so when we come across something we like, we are hooked. When watching the Brazil vs. Colombia game this past weekend, I was dismayed to see 24 year old Brazilian player Neymar get injured. He suffered a fractured vertebrae when a Colombian player landed on him during a heated play.
I had similar feelings when watching last Winter’s Olympiad in Russia. I was alarmed to hear that one of the mogul competitors had 9 surgeries on her knees by the time she was 30.
Lastly, during the OJ Simpson trial, I noticed his gait when he would walk in and out of the courtroom. It was obvious he had arthritis in most of his joints and ambled like a man twice his age. Please withhold any commentary whether he was guilty or not!
These three scenarios illustrate the great dilemma of professional/competitive sports: is it worth in to trash your body in your youth for the sake of the glory of one or two major events? Are million dollar contracts and endorsements worth suffering greatly in your later years? Most would say “yes” and that the money can buy comforts that would compensate for the injuries.
When I was young, I wanted to be in the Tour de France. I was a competitive cyclist in New Mexico and got the bronze medal for the State Championship Road Race, and the Silver Medal for the State Track Championship. Luckily, I survived that phase injury free. It was normal for people to break collar bones from crashes.
In teaching yoga, I am aware that the body’s joints have a certain “shelf life” that can be greatly lengthened by yoga practice. But any injury on those joints reduced the shelf life drastically. Even some of my most esteemed yoga teachers have had to have hips replaced after years of “correct” practice.
From a life span development point of view, having glory early in life is a perilous road. You read daily about the young stars who have aged and become addicted to drugs. OJ Simpson has fallen tremendously despite shattering football records, being well endorsed, being in movies, and having millions. He is currently serving a prison sentence unrelated to the deaths of his wife and her suspected lover.
Yoga allows us how to experience a bit of the glory every we practice without the “agony of defeat.” On a long enough timeline of uninterrupted practice, one no longer feels the need to experience glory as he or she becomes glorious independent of outside factors.