To an Athlete Dying Young Questions and Answers
by A. E. Housman

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Compare "To an Athlete Dying Young" and Updike's "Ex-Basketball Player." How are the athletes' fates similar & different?

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What a great idea to compare these two poems! I hadn't thought of that before! Of course, one poem supports the central idea of the other completely, as the fate of the athlete in "Ex-Basketball Player" strongly suggests that it would have been better for him to die in his moment of glory rather than be allowed to fade away gracelessly into old age.

"To An Athlete Dying Young," then, is all about how the athlete is "smart" to leave a world where glory does not remain and can only vanish. It is far better to die young, the author suggests, than to join the many who had enjoyed glory but now have "worn their honours out." Dying young has meant that he will avoid lots of disappointments that life and age will bring:

Now you...

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