We all get older. It’s an unavoidable fact. Sports fans are no exception. We grow up and we grow old. Unfortunately, so do our heroes. The life of a sports fan, measured by their heroes, has a few major milestones that mark our cycle. #mlb #nba #nfl #nhl #wnba #usmnt #uswnt 1/17
#1 - Establishing a Hero
Think back: Once you were the starry-eyed child. You watched on the television or, hopefully, someone took you to a game. There you were amazed by what that one guy or girl did. How can he run so fast? Did you see that pass? 2/17
Someone did something that made you take notice. You were amazed, in awe. Maybe it was Sandy Koufax's control, Mike Schmidt's power, Walter Payton's finesse, or Sue Bird's control of the court. Something made you become a sports fan and you wouldn't want that to change. 3/17
#2 - Collecting the Hero
By this point, you have your heroes. However, you cannot get enough of them. You have to have all their merchandise. Mom? I have to have that jersey! You don't understand! Apparel, autographs, balls, bats, cards, pucks.. you want it all. 4/17
Don't forget the poster! Even if you're too cool to hang it up in your room, you have it in your closet you unroll it from time to time. You drift off to sleep at night wanting to play just as well as your hero. And you do once your eyes close. 5/17
#3 - Defending the Hero
After years of enjoying your hero's success, their skills are finally eroding. Sad but true. He's not hitting 40 homers anymore. Her fade-away jumper is no longer sure-fire. He can't run as fast as he used to. 6/17
Other people start calling for them to pack it in. But she was the best! No one could throw like he could! Then you realize what you are doing. You're defending your hero in the past tense. It's true. Their day has really passed. 7/17
#4 - The Hero Retires
The day you've been dreading is finally here. You heard it on the radio or television. Maybe you read it in the paper or online. There is a good chance you know where you were when they announced it. He's hanging them up? No! Don't! 8/17
One more year! You looked up to them in some ways, wanted to be like them in others. They held your heart in their hands with every play. You cheered his hat-trick in the Stanley Cup Final. That Super Bowl catch made him a deity. No one scored goals like her. Now its over. 9/17
#5 - The Hero Enters the Shrine
Finally, the years of emptiness have some reward. The game you loved and followed, even without your hero, has called him to a place of enshrinement. Virtual immortality! YES! Of course he belongs there! 10/17
Defending in the past tense finally feels good. Your smile as you see your hero at the podium, thanking the people who voted him in. You can raise your head high and say, "I saw her play!" 11/17
#6 - Hero Jr. Plays the Game
The buzz in the sport is about the new kid. They come from good stock, you hear. Then you catch the name. Your hero has a child in the game! If he's half the player his father was, he'll be great! The obvious comparisons are made. 12/17
Try as you might, you want to make him a replacement for your hero. But he isn't a replacement. Oh, he's good. She may even be great. But that's not your hero. 13/17
#7 - The Hero Leaves
There it was, splashed on the front of some website, scrolling past in social media, or emblazoned in the pages of your paper. The hero of your youth has passed away. How can that be? It has to be a mistake! 14/17
You watched him as you were growing up and admired him for what he did both on and off the field. She was head and shoulders above everyone around her. Someone that good can't die! 15/17
You smile as you recall those memories. That hat-trick. That catch. You wipe a tear from your eye as you silently thank them for the joy they brought you. 16/17
Somewhere a child is begging someone for an athlete's poster, card, or picture.
The cycle continues. 17/17
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