If Derek Jeter wants to limp around, let him limp around (TIME)

September 17, 2013

George R. Goethals, a social psychologist and heroes expert in the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, comments.


But why the obsession with athletes “going out on top?” We lionize them: Bill Russell winning his 11th championship during his final season in 1969. Ted Williams smacking a home run in his last at-bat in 1960. Jim Brown, at age 30, walking away from football after the 1965 season. He was the NFL MVP that year.

“There’s a recency effect,” says George Goethals, a social psychologist at the University of Richmond and co-author of Heroes: What They Do And Why We Need Them." The image we have of them is very much shaped by ‘what have you done lately for us?’”

Goethals says this dynamic holds for presidents too. For example, the last years of Bill Clinton’s presidency, post-Lewinsky, saw a booming economy. He went out with higher approval ratings than Ronald Reagan. Sure, Clinton’s laudable work with his foundation has helped boost the public’s current admiration for him. But the late-90s didn’t hurt.

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