I once read about two athletes who were hugely successful and ranked number one in their respective sports–Annika Sorenstam and Justine Henin– calling it quits and deciding to move on to do other things with their lives. It's extremely refreshing to see that people in their position were willing to step back and even consider the idea that there may be more rewarding things for them to do with their lives than compete and try to hold on to their rankings.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with competing in athletics on a professional level. It’s probably a very rewarding way to make a living. But there’s also nothing wrong with re-examining your motives and your life in an effort to determine whether or not such competition is still fulfilling, still rewarding. There’s a lot of money involved in the sports, but there are also many things that we can do that are more fulfilling in our hearts and spirits.
Their motives aren’t important to us because they’re their motives. We don’t live their lives, so we don’t know what they were thinking and what kinds of needs they have. The simple fact is that they’re sending a message to many people, especially their fans, that there may be more to life than the “success” that’s found in athletic victories and rankings and in the money that one earns in sports. Perhaps there are things like family and friendship and fulfillment in one’s career that are more important than the incessant traveling and competing that define the lives of professional athletes on tour.
It’s refreshing to see two people decide to take a risk and change their courses in life. I sincerely hope that they found fulfillment and joy in their new callings, and I’m grateful to them for showing us that simple monetary and athletic success aren’t necessarily the most important things in life, no matter how much people may idolize them and their performances. I hope that they were able to find peace and balance in their new lives, and I thank them for the moves they made!