Ryan Dungey Isn't Dead!


Chris Cooksey


Congratulations to Ryan Dungey on his highly successful racing career!   He will go down as one of the all-time greats in the sport of Motocross and Supercross.  While the sport is beneficial with Dungey’s participation, the sport will survive without it.  After hearing his retirement speech, at his personal press conference, I am curious to see how he handles retirement.  Retirement for professional athletes can be tough.  Athletes define themselves by their skills and Dungey's entire life has been dedicated to the goal of winning.  Once winning is no longer an athlete’s sole goal in life, depression can take hold.  The identity of their professional self dies and they are forced to reinvent themselves.  In the heat of the moment Dungey probably wished he was normal and didn't have the intense pressure or stress anymore.  While this is true, he will still miss the adoration of so many fans.  He will never be able to recreate the feeling of crossing the line to win a Supercross Championship.  His life will be full of great joy and good times but the feeling of being Champion cannot be replicated.

Ryan Dungey will be remembered as one of the hardest working and determined riders in the sport’s history.  This skill will help him moving forward or it will be his downfall.  Unfortunately, professional athletes are not held to normal societal rules and many are socially inept.  They are so used to everything being geared towards them and their goals.   In retirement they are expected to instantly become regular people.  They no longer receive special treatment or have an entire team geared toward assisting them reach their goals.  They lose many “friends” who were there to feed off their fame and fortune.  This is devastating to their psyche.  Dungey will need to learn how to widen his focus.  The tunnel vision required to be a Champion can alienate an athlete in regular society.  Retiring athletes often have an identity crisis when it all ends.  During their careers they have a team of people helping them focus and move forward.  When they retire this giant support system shrinks to a few people and things can feel lonely.

In the next couple years Ryan and Lindsay will be challenged in their relationship.  The divorce rate for professional athletes upon retirement is extremely high, their relationship dynamic will completely change.  I have heard many people say, “He is rich and has a hot wife, life is good!”  While this is true many professional Motocross racers don't have the money to sit back and reflect.  Ryan has the money to allow the nothingness of retirement set in.  Ryan doesn't need to enter the regular workforce and will have a lot of time on his hands.  Ryan will have to find a new motivation for getting up in the morning, much like Kevin Windham.  He might want to give Windham a call and allow Windham to explain the emotional roller coaster that lies ahead, and unlike his professional career this will be played out in private.

While we celebrate Ryan Dungey and his historic career achievements, I am concerned for him as a human being.  I don't think Ryan will go very far from the sport, he has too much to offer.   Hopefully he will make the transition and embrace his new life in whatever role he chooses.  RD5 is no longer his identity, he is now Ryan from Minnesota.  I personally appreciated Dungey this season as this was my first season in the Supercross media and he made it very memorable.  He answered my press conference questions honestly and didn’t hide his emotions.  I took a lot of heat after Glendale, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  He showed his human side, something he never showed earlier in his career.  

If you want a perfect example of the struggles an athlete goes through upon retirement, check out the documentary State of Play: Happiness.  

(Photos by LC)

IMG_0590.JPG




User Feedback


kNewc

Posted (edited)

Holy crap this whole thing is so negative. After most people are respecting the man and giving thanks you are telling him not to kill himself.  Many other pro's have gone through this "transition" without issues - or divorce. I used to like your articles. But between the stupid interview question and this I'm over you man. Sure, people will wonder how Dungey will react to being "normal". But you have to realize he's pretty young and with that much $$ he won't be bored anytime soon. I'm sure he has an idea of what he wants to do now and in the future. The dude seems solid. You bring up some decent points, but you seem to - somewhat blindly - talk yourself into negative or offensive articles/interviews without even knowing it.

Edited by kNewc
3 people like this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chris, you sound like mainstream media.

Ryan's life will of course change as you say and it is tru that the change will be hard, however, his life is not defined simply by the world of motocross. It is ultimately defined by Christ. A point that as much as Ryan has made mention of is interestingly missing from your take.

 

 

2 people like this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, kNewc said:

Holy crap this whole thing is so negative. After most people are respecting the man and giving thanks you are telling him not to kill himself.  Many other pro's have gone through this "transition" without issues - or divorce. I used to like your articles. But between the stupid interview question and this I'm over you man. Sure, people will wonder how Dungey will react to being "normal". But you have to realize he's pretty young and with that much $$ he won't be bored anytime soon. I'm sure he has an idea of what he wants to do now and in the future. The dude seems solid. You bring up some decent points, but you seem to - somewhat blindly - talk yourself into negative or offensive articles/interviews without even knowing it.

Appreciate your opinion.  I have no doubt Dungey will be just fine in his retirement.  Every other article written about his retirement seems to end with unicorns and rainbows.  I want to focus on the reality of life change.  No matter how much money you have, a complete life change can be tough.  Like Lindsay Dungey said "I am excited to meet Ryan as a person and not a racer".  

As far as the interview questions... I ask what I want to know.  If my question was so stupid, why did Dungey apologize?   Many respected journalists in our sport sought me out in Vegas or after the Vegas SX to thank me for my refreshing my point of view.  My questions in the press conference helped gain insight for everyone.  

Check my very first SX preview article, I was spot on with my analysis of Dungey and his season.

Thanks again for taking the time to share your opinion!

2 people like this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, lowmass said:

Chris, you sound like mainstream media.

Ryan's life will of course change as you say and it is tru that the change will be hard, however, his life is not defined simply by the world of motocross. It is ultimately defined by Christ. A point that as much as Ryan has made mention of is interestingly missing from your take.

 

 

Yes, something I thought about.  I choose not to focus on someone's religious beliefs, but yes I think that will help him during this transition. 

Edited by Chris Cooksey
1 person likes this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Swing and a miss Chris....

Like I have told you before, you just try too hard sometimes. Different and edgy does not necessarily equal good.

1 person likes this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I take that back, the question was a very good question, but the way you phrased it came off bad. Just like this article. Good points, poorly phrased. 

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I could be wrong, but Ryan is one of the most grounded professional athletes in the spotlight. Do you see him wearing a flat cap over his ears....no....do you see him making excuses...no. He'll be fine.  He has a great family behind him.  I can only hope that we get to see more of his down to earth commentary on the sport. KTM made a great choice in sponsoring him!! Loved watching his discipline, hard work and his winning! Now, go Ely!

2 people like this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Chris Cooksey said:

Yes, something I thought about.  I choose not to focus on someone's religious beliefs, but yes I think that will help him during this transition. 

Agreed. Making assumptions good or bad about somebody's life based on their public pronouncements of religion or faith is disaster waiting to happen. Even to assert that it will help is highly speculative IMHO.

Hopefully Dungey will have a smooth transition channeling his skills into a new career. There are plenty of opportunities for a well spoken, clean cut, Wheaties Box guy --religious faith or not I am sure. There are lots of ways it could go,  and your article did a pretty good job of pointing out some of the potential challenges and pitfalls. The way I read it at least.

1 person likes this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good article Chris. There's a negative tilt if I regard your words as directed specifically at Dungey, but I don't think that's your point. You are providing a sobering look at a type, or a category, of person. In this sense I think you did a good job. There's plenty of data out if you ever need to defend your statements further. Hollywood stars too have a similar struggle. It's not only pro athletes that come this path.

We can be quite certain that at some point Ryan Dungey will be humbled, as he steps away from the craft he has poured his life into thus far. This craft is racing motorcycles. As you've said, he may never stand out as the "best of the best" again. He might be very average for the rest of his life - oh the horror of such an existence!

For discussions sake, I would posit that Dungey is already familiar with humility. There is a humility component to being disciplined and working hard. Generally speaking, elite athletes are actually quite developed in this way. They know how to keep working at something. Millimeter by millimeter, race by race, year by year, they hammer it out and make improvements. This is a tremendous life skill.

Dungey seems like a guy that "felt" the discipline required of him everyday, more-so than a guy that relished in the glory of it all. 

I don't see Dungey as someone who is prone to drugs and alcohol either. This too will help him tremendously.

Chris, I think you felt safe presenting this article in light of Ryan Dungey. I bet you would have been much more hesitant to apply it to a guy that we thought was on shaky ground. If this were the case, your article would have been very different.

1 person likes this

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Pushing the envelope" are we? While the overall premise of your article is true, you clearly don't factor in things like upbringing, family background, personal values and so forth. I have NEVER seen even the slightest indication that Dungey is anything but a thoroughly decent guy, well grounded and extremely disciplined.

Are you a mxer? Dirt rider? Or just a "sports journo" whose frame of reference is the mayhem footballplayerrapists get up to?

How many top ex-racers are in jail for drug dealing/murder/assault/rape/mayhem?   Why did you post an interview with what I assume is an ex-FBPR?  Apples and oranges. Football is about half a step above bare-knuckle boxing as far as character and social adaptation go. Completely different types of people, mx racers and FBPR's. 

Yes, I think NFL is a joke - the low-life behaviour and criminality that increasingly define that sport the last decade or so being the main reason. 

Dungey will miss the thrill, I'm sure. But he doesn't strike me as the kind of person who craves the limelight and being "famous". None of them are. Well........... except maybe Pastrana a little :lol: but he has earned the right !

I'm a little dismayed at the tone of your piece - trying to frame Ryan Dungey in the context of ex-football players who first, can't handle the fame, and later the anonimity of retirement. After they blow the millions they made, that is.  

It's all about CHARACTER.  Dungey, Tomac, Osborne, McGrath, Windham, Carmichael, Albertyn, Henry, Emig, etc.....they all have it. Goons like that NFL player who was just murdered in prison - while serving a life sentence for murder himself...Hernandez was it? DON'T.

Please don't drag ESPN-style BS into our sport. 

 

 

 

 

 

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Hendricus said:

Good article Chris. There's a negative tilt if I regard your words as directed specifically at Dungey, but I don't think that's your point. You are providing a sobering look at a type, or a category, of person. In this sense I think you did a good job. There's plenty of data out if you ever need to defend your statements further. Hollywood stars too have a similar struggle. It's not only pro athletes that come this path.

We can be quite certain that at some point Ryan Dungey will be humbled, as he steps away from the craft he has poured his life into thus far. This craft is racing motorcycles. As you've said, he may never stand out as the "best of the best" again. He might be very average for the rest of his life - oh the horror of such an existence!

For discussions sake, I would posit that Dungey is already familiar with humility. There is a humility component to being disciplined and working hard. Generally speaking, elite athletes are actually quite developed in this way. They know how to keep working at something. Millimeter by millimeter, race by race, year by year, they hammer it out and make improvements. This is a tremendous life skill.

Dungey seems like a guy that "felt" the discipline required of him everyday, more-so than a guy that relished in the glory of it all. 

I don't see Dungey as someone who is prone to drugs and alcohol either. This too will help him tremendously.

Chris, I think you felt safe presenting this article in light of Ryan Dungey. I bet you would have been much more hesitant to apply it to a guy that we thought was on shaky ground. If this were the case, your article would have been very different.

You nailed it!  Thanks for reading!

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, 82ProLink said:

"Pushing the envelope" are we? While the overall premise of your article is true, you clearly don't factor in things like upbringing, family background, personal values and so forth. I have NEVER seen even the slightest indication that Dungey is anything but a thoroughly decent guy, well grounded and extremely disciplined.

Are you a mxer? Dirt rider? Or just a "sports journo" whose frame of reference is the mayhem footballplayerrapists get up to?

How many top ex-racers are in jail for drug dealing/murder/assault/rape/mayhem?   Why did you post an interview with what I assume is an ex-FBPR?  Apples and oranges. Football is about half a step above bare-knuckle boxing as far as character and social adaptation go. Completely different types of people, mx racers and FBPR's. 

Yes, I think NFL is a joke - the low-life behaviour and criminality that increasingly define that sport the last decade or so being the main reason. 

Dungey will miss the thrill, I'm sure. But he doesn't strike me as the kind of person who craves the limelight and being "famous". None of them are. Well........... except maybe Pastrana a little :lol: but he has earned the right !

I'm a little dismayed at the tone of your piece - trying to frame Ryan Dungey in the context of ex-football players who first, can't handle the fame, and later the anonimity of retirement. After they blow the millions they made, that is.  

It's all about CHARACTER.  Dungey, Tomac, Osborne, McGrath, Windham, Carmichael, Albertyn, Henry, Emig, etc.....they all have it. Goons like that NFL player who was just murdered in prison - while serving a life sentence for murder himself...Hernandez was it? DON'T.

Please don't drag ESPN-style BS into our sport. 

 

 

 

 

 

Our sport like others has success stories and stories with sad endings.  Swink, J-Law, Sheak, Eickel, Riddle, Healy, Evans are just a few guys who have had a tough time.  I do NOT think Dungey will go down this road but I didn't think Windham would struggle either....

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Chaconne said:

Agreed. Making assumptions good or bad about somebody's life based on their public pronouncements of religion or faith is disaster waiting to happen. Even to assert that it will help is highly speculative IMHO.

Hopefully Dungey will have a smooth transition channeling his skills into a new career. There are plenty of opportunities for a well spoken, clean cut, Wheaties Box guy --religious faith or not I am sure. There are lots of ways it could go,  and your article did a pretty good job of pointing out some of the potential challenges and pitfalls. The way I read it at least.

Thanks!  That is all I am saying.  

Share this comment


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Reply with: