Ancient Greece, 648 B.C.: Popular pankration contestant Dikaeopolis Isosceles announced Friday that he was retiring.
“I just don’t think it’s worth the risk,” he observed to Epsilon Sigma Pi Nu’s Outside the Lines. “I thought to myself, what am I doing? The other day I watched a man stab another man with his fingers and pull out his entrails, and the officials ALMOST allowed it. I was like, this is crazy. Am I crazy, or is this crazy? Is this how I’m going to spend my adult life? Having oily strangers pull out my entrails?” Dikaeopolis sighed.
“I mean, at first, I was like, every match I’m in, I feel like I come within inches of being killed. I must be doing something wrong, surely. That can’t be how the game is supposed to be played. But I asked, and, no, that was exactly how it was supposed to go.” (Pankration officials responded to the news by noting that “Pankration is safer than it’s ever been.”)
He added: “I get that I’m a celebrity. I get that there are benefits, and I appreciate all the attention and life-saving thumb gestures that people have vouchsafed me so far. But I just want to live a long life and do what’s best for my health.” His team, the Rome Human Lions, responded to the announcement by noting that “Maximus cannot retire. His contract states that he is a prisoner of war doomed to fight until he dies. Also, our defense would really suffer without him, especially before the big match against the Rome Lion Lions.” The gladiation officials insisted, however, that gladiating was “as safe as it has always been, and definitely way safer than naumachia.”
America, 2015: San Francisco 49ers lineback Chris Borland has retired at age 24. “I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health,” he told ESPN’s Outside the Lines. “From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.” He went on: “I just thought to myself, ‘What am I doing? Is this how I’m going to live my adult life, banging my head, especially with what I’ve learned and know about the dangers?’” The NFL, meanwhile, insists that football “has never been safer.”
The last one is from an actual story.
Just, in general, when you look around your sport and notice people suffering multiple traumatic injuries — not when they screw up, but when they play the game correctly — you’re not the crazy one for leaving.