Someone’s resignation yesterday got me thinking about the meaning of life. No, it wasn’t Hosni Mubarak. Although, while I’m on the subject, good riddance to you, sir. Actually, I’m talking about Jerry Sloan, head coach of my beloved Utah Jazz, who resigned after 26 years.
Sloan was the longest tenured coach in any sport. There will never again be another coach who sticks around that long with one team. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true in this case: this is the end of an era in sports.
I’ve been watching Sloan pace the sidelines as long as I can remember. (I live in NYC, but I’m a die hard Jazz fan for various complicated reasons.) During the press conference announcing his resignation, Sloan fought back tears. So did everyone else. It was gut wrenching. There is a rumor he resigned after an argument with Deron Williams, their star point guard. It’s terrible if it went down like that. But maybe it’s just a rumor.
Sloan has always been a man of few words. He just said, “my time is up.” It seemed so simple: he knew it was time to go.
Oddly, thinking about Sloan has emboldened me in my move away from academia. Maybe it really is as simple as knowing when you’ve reached the end of the line. There’s dignity in not lingering too long at the point of in/decision. It’s important to ask yourself, when your time is up, will you know? And once you know, can you let go?