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athletic support by eli cranor Athletic Support: Are athletes getting better with age?
June 13, 2021

Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Please use the “Contact” page at to send in questions for “Athletic Support.”

Dear Athletic Support: I was watching the St. Louis Cardinals take on the Chicago Cubs last week when it happened again. The Cardinals catcher, Yadier Molina, blasted a solo home run to break a 1-1 tie in the 7th inning as the Cardinals went on to beat the Cubs, 2-1. I thought to myself, “How is this guy still playing baseball?” I feel like I’ve been watching him crush my Cubs and many other teams my whole life. “Yadi” is 38 years old and still going strong. In fact, it’s been a good year for the old guys. Tom Brady won his sixth Super Bowl at age 43, LeBron James seeks to defend his NBA Championship title at age 36, and Phil Mickelson just became the oldest golfer to ever win a Major Championship at age 50! So my question is, do we place too much emphasis on age when determining a player's ability to compete? With modern advancements in science and technology blending with sports, how long can these guys go? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

— Age-Old Question

Dear Age-Old: First things first, I’m a Cardinals fan. I married into it, but ever since then I’ve been enamored. So, yes, I’m very familiar with Yadi. My wife’s grandmother loves him even more than I do. She’s in her eighties and swears Yadi has been the Card’s catcher since she was a little girl!

Jokes aside, you raise a very good question. This has been a good year for older athletes. I think you’re right. Sport science just keeps getting better and better. Athletic trainers are as smart as they’ve ever been. I know things have changed greatly since I was playing, and that’s only been a little over ten years.

The bigger question at play here, though, is what are these athletes doing to their bodies in the long run? Sure, they’re still playing, but what will the long-term ramifications be?

Only time will tell, but in the end that is their decision. If they want to keep playing, I’ll keep right on watching them!

Dear Athletic Support: I watched my son’s high school football coach closely all last season. I’ll be the first to admit, he was up against a tough situation. Our best player — our quarterback — was what I’d call a “turd.” Of all the boys on the team, he definitely has the worst altitude. To make matters even tougher, he’s also our best player. What do you think this coach should do next season? Should he continue to start this turd at quarterback, or bench him for a bit and see if he can straighten him out?

- Stinky Situation

Dear Stinky: It’s always hard when your best player isn’t your leader. It’s extra hard when your best player has the worst attitude on the team.

In the end, though, winning is never worth losing the respect of the players, and that’s exactly what will happen if your son’s coach holds his quarterback to a different — less strict — standard than the rest of the team.

Even if it costs him a few wins, your coach still needs to try and straighten that quarterback out, and nothing gets a young athlete’s attention faster than the bench.

Previous columns:

Are team sports a vital part of childhood?
Summer schedule way too serious
What if I can’t afford private speed camps?
Quarterback lacks speed
Should pro athletes talk politics?
How to take a hit
Wrestling in college, what’s the point?
Removal of mask requirement could cost us games
Overachieving daughter stinks at sports
Why are we playing all the small schools?
Freshmen don’t make varsity, usually
Kids have changed, haven’t they?
Esports and disc golf bigger than football?
Little pitchers have big ears
Pregame music offensive
Fouls in girls basketball
Red Shirting
Coach makes political post
7th grade girls basketball woes
Multi-million-dollar buyouts don’t make sense
Private schools have the upper hand
Best of 2020

Athletic Support Columns 2020

Outside of athletics, kids’ brains are also at risk. Who knows what sort of impact virtual learning will have on their cognition and critical thinking skills. In this regard, I offer one simple tool — a good book! And luckily, I know just the book for kids struggling with the shift to virtual learning:


books make brainz taste badOkay, you caught me… I’m the author of this book. It was published last week and awarded a #1 New Release ranking on Amazon. BMBTB deals directly with the same topic covered in this column, except in a much more lighthearted, kid-friendly way (zombie teachers and brain-munching screens!)

If you end up purchasing this book for your children or grandchildren, I only have one final suggestion — ask them to read it while standing up!

Eli Cranor's new book Books Make Brainz Taste Bad has just been released. ZOMBIES HATE BOOKS! Especially the zombie teachers at Haven Middle School. That's why they're using VR headsets to fry kids' brainz. Luckily, Dash Storey knows how to save his classmates from the zombie teachers—BOOKS! They make brainz taste bad!

"Eli Cranor has an almost unbeatable advantage. He can remember how it felt to think like a twelve-year-old and he can see the very same events like the adult he is. Don't try to resist this book!"
- Jack Butler, Pulitzer-Prize nominated author


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