Do Older Athletes Dominate Sports?

Written by: Scott

Edited by: Lucas

Visual by: Johanna

The average length of a professional athlete’s career is about 10 years. This does not apply to a few sporting legends who have been successful in their older ages. Most recently, Tom Brady won the super bowl at 43, Lebron won the NBA championship at 35, and Serena Williams and Roger Federer are still battling it out on the tennis court at 39. These all-time greats did not only prove their status when they burst onto their respective scenes; they have demonstrated that the concept of a “prime” era is just an illusion for them. 

To begin with, Tom Brady just won his 7th super bowl this last week in a crushing performance over the reigning champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. This super bowl run came in a different uniform than most fans are used to seeing Brady play in. He won as part of a new squad, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Being constantly told that he was only a role player on a great team, the Patriots, Brady was a man on a mission to prove that HE was the system this past season. Devin McCourty, his former teammate, put it best when he said, “If you thought Tom Brady was a system quarterback, you probably need to go dive in the snow right now…head first.” Brady’s career has seen many new athlete norms such as therapy and medical research. The 7x super bowl champion says that he “hurt all the time” at the age of 25 and he knew he had to make a lifestyle change. This lifestyle change consisted of drinking plenty of water, going to sleep by 9 PM, cutting out alcohol, following a strict diet, and focusing on flexibility rather than weightlifting. This lifestyle has supported his body into his 40s and beyond. When asked about retirement after the super bowl, Tom Brady replied saying, “We’re coming back, you already know that.” (CBS)

Lebron James, another old athlete some consider to be the G.O.A.T of basketball, has shown his success well into his 30s. One statistic to show just how much Lebron takes care of his body in the contact-heavy sport that he plays is his annual health bill. Every year, James spends $1.5 million on his body, from yoga to nutrition to reestablishing a hairline. Through all the body maintenance and support obtained over his 18 year NBA career, James has been able to win 4 NBA finals, including the most recent at the age of 35. When asked about his mentality entering his 18th season, James commented, “I’m not your typical guy in his 18th season…I train my body for a marathon…They say if you stay ready, you never have to get ready.” (Fadeaway World) As Lebron continues his dominance in the demanding sport of basketball, his dedication to his body is what allows his magic to work.

Lastly, looking at a more technical sport in tennis, Serena Williams has achieved G.O.A.T. status through her timeless success on the court. Williams has won 23 grand slam titles during her career including one while secretly 2 months pregnant.For Serena, she has been able to hire many coaches and personal trainers who helped her in a professional career starting at the age of 14. Her most trusted coach, Patrick Moratoglou has assisted her in her various agility, cardio, and strength exercises to counter the aging factor of her body(Insider). In her individual sport, Serena is able to establish a name for herself and access support from coaches and trainers to keep her fresh against the younger competition.

This long time demonstration of dominance may be due to new medical technology or their individual work ethics or even the people/sponsors they have supporting them. Reason aside, these greats have owned the basketball, football, and tennis worlds for longer than some of us have been alive.