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College Football Players Are Asked What Birth Year Makes Someone 'Officially Old' & Ouch — It's Way Younger Than Expected

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Excuse me?! interviewer shocked at answer

Every young person thinks every adult person is a withered old crone — it's part of the fun of being young, after all.

But a group of college kids' perceptions of what constitutes "old" is truly on a whole other level. And if you're a day over 22, prepare to get your feelings hurt!

College athletes were asked what birth year makes someone old — and their answers will really hurt your feelings.

As a 44-year-old man born during the last days of disco, I realize that, to the average 20-something, I am basically an ancient soothsayer who lives in a remote cave full of the fossilized bones of my elders. That's perfectly natural, of course — I vividly remember gasping in horror as a kid when my mom told me she was 38, an age I didn't realize even existed at the time. (Imagine my surprise when she told me my grandma was 62.)

Our perceptions of what's old are always inaccurate when we're young. That's just part of life.

But nothing could have prepared me for the answers that college athletes gave when Big Ten Network asked them what birth year makes someone old. Mainly because their answers are fully and actively insane.



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The athletes' answers ranged from 1990 to 2001 — yes, 2001 — as the birth years that make someone old.

"I would say in the 90s, if you were born in 1999, you're considered old!" one man said. Another was a bit more forgiving, giving a range of "92, 91, 90, I mean that age." (Wow thanks!) 

But others were not quite so magnanimous. "If you were born before, like, 98, you're kind of old to me, I'll be honest," one guy said. "I won't say 99 because my sister was born in 99, but 98, yeah," another said. But nothing compared to the man who flatly said, "01" as the answer. Which means 22. Twenty-two is old.

If you've just jumped out of your skin, you're certainly not alone. The athletes' responses definitely had people in their feelings.

"I was born in 1987 and apparently I’m just gonna head out and sign myself into the local retirement home," one woman wrote in the comments. "Guess I'm dead lol," another quipped, while several others couldn't help but indignantly notice that, "they all look solidly 30+, this is wild."

Age is really all about perception in the end, of course, and it turns out there might be some scientific reasons why these smart alecks (he said, rapping his cane on the table) seem to have such a skewed view of what constitutes being old.

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The students' insane perceptions of what constitutes 'old' might be explained by the fact that we all tend to feel younger than we are.

There's a reason so many old people tend to say they don't feel as old as they are. Scientific studies of our perceptions of aging have found that most of us tend to feel younger than we are throughout our adulthood, a concept called "subjective age."

A 2018 study by Michigan State University, the University of St. Thomas, and Stanford University used subjects aged 10 to 89 to examine their own self-perceptions when it comes to aging, as well as their perceptions of developmental milestones — what constitutes old age versus young adulthood, for example. 

They found that older adults' perceptions of those milestones skewed older than young people's — hence these insouciant whippersnappers saying without irony that anyone born before 2001 is old (I will never forgive this). But interestingly, they also found that the older a person was, the younger they felt. And this perception is so powerful it even has been found to have health benefits for older people. 

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But there's another factor that might even better explain why these 18-to-22-year-old athletes think anyone older than 23 is a wizened old crone: social media. If you spend a lot of time online you'll surely have noticed the trend of 20-somethings — or sometimes, people even younger — remarking about how old they feel at the ripe age of 24 or whatever. 

Many have theorized this to in part be due to the dizzying speed with which internet culture and memes move nowadays, especially since the advent of TikTok, the app preferred by the youngest and the trends on which cycle much faster than its predecessors. It's now a running joke on TikTok, in fact, that what's happening on TikTok often takes months to even show up on Instagram — a joke that is often not a joke at all.



That doesn't excuse these youngins from calling me, a 44-year-old man born in 1978, essentially a dead body (and I assure you that vengeance will one day be mine if it's the last thing I do), but it does at least explain the discrepancy.

Ultimately, though, age will come for them too, as it comes for all of us. Luckily, we all seem to have a propensity to feel younger than we are, which will surely soften the blow when some hooligan inevitably tells these college kids that anyone born before 2043 is an ancient hag! It's the circle of life, after all.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.