One on One: Author Scott Tinley Researches the Disposability of Athletes
"When you make a transition away from the game — emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually — you go through something. You change, and you're constantly searching for something," said former Tennessee Titan running back Eddie George last month, just days after longtime teammate Steve McNair was murdered by his 20-year-old mistress. "There's a much deeper issue here than just Steve and extramarital affairs." George's assessment of the tragedy "nails it," according to retired professional triathlete Scott Tinley, a San Diego State University lecturer and author of Racing the Sunset: An Athlete's Quest for Life After Sport (Lyons Press, 2003). Once his first, admittedly narcissistic career had ended, Tinley battled his own "dark feelings of despair" before ultimately focusing on athlete retirement as a Master's thesis topic. Now 51, he is researching the disposability of athletes — what he calls "the changing hero paradigm" — as he pursues a doctoral degree. Paul Steinbach recently caught up with Tinley to learn more.
Q: What are retired athletes searching for?
Q: Has the public's increasing fascination with sports made this phenomenon worse, or more widespread?
Q: How common is it for athletes to experience a troubled retirement?
Q: Do you have empathy for serial retirees like Brett Favre?
Q: Can athletes do anything to combat retirement-related problems?
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