May 2023

How Long Until Your Favorite Player is Forgotten?

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As professional athletes retire from their respective sports, their public relevance, influence, and audience tend to decline. While some athletes continue to be remembered for years after their retirement, others are quickly forgotten. But how can we predict how long an athlete's relevance will last after they retire?

Relevance within the context of this formula refers to the athlete's cultural significance and impact within the sport they played. It takes into account their achievements, accolades, and influence on the sport, as well as their public image and popularity. The formula calculates the rate at which an athlete's relevance declines after retirement, based on factors such as media coverage, fan engagement, and historical impact. The point at which an athlete is no longer considered culturally relevant is when their impact and influence within the sport has significantly diminished and they are no longer a topic of discussion or interest among fans and media outlets.

Using the NBA's Demar Derozan as an example, we'll determine how long it'll take for his relevance to expire. It's shockingly fast.


Half Life = 1.44 * (popularity/influence/followers/likes/shares)^(1/2)


The formula uses the half life concept to calculate the rate of decay in an athlete's cultural relevance. It takes into account the athlete's social media following and engagement as a proxy for their cultural impact. The number 1.44 is a constant used in half life calculations. The exponent 1/2 is used to account for the fact that the rate of decay is not linear but rather exponential.


As of May 11, 2023, DeMar DeRozan has 3.3 million followers on Instagram. We will use this number to estimate his half life of cultural relevance in the NBA.

Half Life = 1.44 * (3,300,000)^(1/2)

Half Life = 3.68 years

According to this formula, DeMar DeRozan's half life of cultural relevance in the NBA is only 3.68 years. This means that after 3.68 years, he will have lost half of his cultural relevance in the sport of basketball.

But what does it mean for an athlete to lose cultural relevance? In the context of this formula, we define cultural relevance as the extent to which an athlete's name and contributions are remembered by the average fan. When an athlete is no longer culturally relevant, they are no longer top of mind for most fans and are not seen as an important figure in the sport.

Using the formula, we can estimate the date when DeMar DeRozan may no longer be culturally relevant in the NBA. Assuming he retired today (May 11, 2023), his cultural relevance half life would be 3.68 years, which means that his relevance will be reduced to half of what it is now by November 2026. By May 2028, his cultural relevance in the NBA would be down to just 25% of what it is today.

The half life of athlete relevance formula can be a useful tool for predicting an athlete's cultural relevance in the NBA. While it's not a perfect predictor, it takes into account an athlete's social media presence and engagement, which is a good proxy for their cultural impact. Using this formula, we estimated that DeMar DeRozan's cultural relevance in the NBA will expire in May 2028, seven years after his half life.

It's important to note that this calculation assumes that DeRozan will not have any major cultural moments or accomplishments in the future that could extend his relevance. However, this formula gives us a rough estimate of the timeline for an athlete's cultural relevance decay, and it's interesting to consider how this decay plays out for different athletes over time. There are many other factors and variables that should be included.

Even with an Olympian, All-NBA, and All-Star player like DeMar DeRozan, it's shocking to see how easily he could fade into obscurity. The harsh reality is that unless an athlete reaches legendary status with constant highlights, court side appearances during live telecasts, and lucrative endorsements, they'll be forgotten quicker than you can say 'retirement'.

Issa Hall, Esq

Issa has founded multiple ventures, is an author, and founding partner of Hall & Dixon law firm, with over a decade of experience in tech and law.

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