Sports legends ready to retire spells nostalgia for young fans

Kobe Bryant celebrates. Bryant, who announced his retirement, which will be effective at the end of the season, has played 19 professional seasons. Photo courtesy: Public Domain

Kobe Bryant, NBA star, announced his retirement on Sunday, November 29, which will take effect at the end of this 2015-16 season. On November 15, Peyton Manning, NFL star, was benched in favor of Brock Osweiler. Charles Woodson retired from the NFL at the end of this season, Tiger Woods is irrelevant, and it has been a year since Derek Jeter retired.

Let’s face it: our childhood of watching sports is over.

If you are a high schooler, Bryant and Manning have dominated their respective sports for as long as you can remember. Bryant is an MVP, 17-time All-Star, 5 time NBA Champion, and 2 time Finals MVP. Manning is a 5 time MVP, 14-time All-Star, Super Bowl Champion, Super Bowl MVP, and was named Comeback Player of the Year in 2013. These two players will surely be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the coming years.

When you came home from school six years ago, you finished your homework, played outside, and turned on the TV just in time to see these stars play. It seemed like all the highlight reels on SportsCenter focused on these two.

Bryant tweeted the link to his poem Dear Basketball, expressing his love for the game and his impending retirement. It was met with thousands “thank yous” from Laker fans and league fans nationwide. However, some comments summarized the nostalgia teens will feel following his retirement, “I feel like a bit of my childhood is dying,” tweeted a college student, “Peyton’s career is all but over, Kobe is retiring,…”

Most adults consider age 16 too young to be feeling nostalgic; however, following the bowing-out of these sports legends, teens everywhere will in fact feel nostalgic.

Most kids who throw crumpled paper in the trashcan from six feet away say “Kobe” as they shoot. He has been a dominant force in the NBA since the turn of the century.

Bryant’s past two years have been injury ridden, while Manning has been benched. In Dear Basketball, Bryant proclaims, “my mind can handle the grind/but my body knows it’s time to say goodbye. And that’s OK/I’m ready to let you go.”

Sports fans will feel the loss of these legends. These athletes have been the faces of their leagues, inspiring young fans. Similar to how shows, such as “Spongebob” and “Drake and Josh,” are a part of childhood memories, it is understandable that in one’s youth, their sports-watching experience is defined by stars such as Bryant and Manning.

For as long as these young viewers can recall, Bryant and Manning, among others, have been making the big plays and dominating their games. They are a part of childhood memories, which is why their retirements will create a nostalgic feeling for young fans. Our first moments and memories of watching sports incorporated these legends.

Nostalgia is defined as a “sentimental longing for the past.” For us teens, this is a major change. We haven’t seen the leagues without Bryant and Manning. For some, it is a struggle to imagine it. Teens will miss these athletes.

“The game will never be the same, he’s great, although I was never a Laker fan,” explained Cole Stinson, a sophomore and NBA fan who has watched Bryant throughout his childhood.

It will be interesting to see where these legends’ lives will take them; Manning likely won’t retire following this season. He has played in a superb fashion well into his thirties. In fact, this season is his first sign of his downfall, and his team still made the AFC Championship game. As we grow older, so do our inspirations. As times change, we change. Spectators of all ages will miss these stars, but for the first time, this will include our generation.

Stars like LeBron James and Tom Brady have also played a major role in our memories, and they aren’t retiring yet. However, for the current fifth-graders, they may look up to young stars such as Stephen Curry and Russell Wilson. But to us, they will never be as good as our stars. Just as Kobe is not as good as Michael Jordan, and Manning is not as great as Joe Montana in the eyes of our parents. Everyone has a different perspective, and many members of our generation will long for the days of Bryant and Manning, and the memories that came with seeing them on television.


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