Tue | Aug 22, 2017

The short shelf life of the jock

Published:Sunday | March 6, 2016 | 3:00 AMMel Cooke

On Saturday, I was watching part of the Gibson McCook Relays on television, enjoying the action although I know very little about the athletes.

Coincidentally, about the same time, someone posted part of Ian Boyne's interview with Usain Bolt on Facebook. Bolt was talking about the social hurdles he has had to leap in the country of his birth.

In case you missed it (as I did the first time around), Bolt spoke about having issues with his neighbours in an apartment complex, giving his route to financial success at a youthful age - 23 years old at the time - as a major reason for the friction. The sprinter reasoned that he was living among persons who had gone to school for a long time to acquire something that he had in a few short strides (my words).

The connection between the relays and the interview is the shelf life of the jock, which is expected to be brief for the overwhelming majority of those who excel on the field of play. After the glory days of high school are over, in the main, the boy who is a jock would have seen the best of his attraction to the ladies. And, unless he turns professional and fights his way through the pack, would lose his sheen.

But then, the schoolboy sports jock's shelf life is even shorter than that. Way back, when I was in high school, there was a running joke that when it was football season in the first-term, the ballers got the girls. In the second term it was the runners' time to dazzle the damsels, and there were precious few who straddled both at A level that would catch the young women's eyes.

As a man, it is a very confusing thing - this matter of what is attractive to a woman in the earliest stages of awakening to boy-girl relationships. In adulthood, when it is academic qualifications which generally determine income levels, it is the guys who did not have a prayer on the field of play who have the run of the field with the women.

Yeah man, mawga John, who none of the girls took notice of in high school is now obviously headed to a great future in his profession, and all of a sudden, the girls are looking and locking in. Naturally, it drives some of those receiving the unaccustomed attention into erratic behaviour. There are two possible extremes - they can go gal crazy and take them on left, right and centre, or become 'gal clown', with a woman or two twirling them around their pinky.

And what of the former high-school sports star who, as a man, now finds that his athletic prowess counts for naught? It is a rough, rough, often lonely life.