Game On! : Career Options for Former Athletes

Professional athletes train for many years in order to achieve their dreams of glory.  Some of their many sacrifices may include extensive practice and workout, very early training hours, related expenses, moving away from loved ones and little time for cultivating relationships.  Whether they reach the pinnacle of their sporting career or face failing aspirations, sooner or later athletes have to face the dreaded reality of retirement.  Their age might force it; and injury might force it; or maybe it was just “the right time”. However, what happens when the game is over?

Even though the transition out of sport to a regular life is not always easy, there is no need for despair; there is no need to wander around aimlessly or sinking into the retirement blues.  Life in itself is the most exciting game and the skills athletes had will serve them well in pursuing a new career path.  If they can look within themselves, they will realize that the past has trained them to reach future career success in the workplace, and that talent, determination, competitiveness, resilience and discipline are much required assets that will give them leverage.

What can I do?

Whether they remain close to the sport industry or they decide to expand horizons and try something new, former athletes can definitely thrive in jobs and should be recruited by companies that seek candidates with athletic attributes.  I will also say this: they should be recruited, period.  They make some of the best employees and on top of that, they have been under the toughest bosses, their coaches.  Their attributes include a winning and goal-oriented attitude, commitment and drive. Besides, teamwork is a great trait for a great coworker.

It is certain that some athletes, after their unprecedented successful sports career, never have to think about money or fame again.  Their names will ensure an income even when they retire.  For others, their sport career will serve as a steppingstone to another high profile job. If you are a former athlete and you are thinking about your next professional step, take a look at these suggestions:

Six Perfect Jobs for Former Athletes

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Image courtesy of Kyle MacDonald at

    • Sports Broadcaster: the experience an athlete has in a certain sport can make him/her a great analyst, commentator or a play-by-play announcer for a sports network or team.

    • Business Owner: Not only performance in sports can make someone famous.  Entrepreneurship and successful creation of business prove that athletes can “score” outside the court as well.  Venus Williams and Michael Jordan are examples of athletes who turned entrepreneurs.

    • Politician: Not many athletes have made a transition into the world of politics, but the ones who have dared are playing a big role in cities and states.  Former athletes can represent well different ideologies and surely they can encourage support for future athletes.

    • Coach: a former athlete’s training and knowledge of the sport can help new athletes understand their strengths and weaknesses, where they are and where they want to be and therefore, reach their highest potential.

    • Physical Therapist: Sport physical therapists help rehabilitate athletes who have gone through physical injuries.  Your athletic history has provided you with useful firsthand knowledge of these sorts of injuries. This occupation will give you an opportunity to help patients heal and get back in the game.

    • Franchise Owner:  having a franchise is like having a business model that comes with a game plan.  The former athlete would be an executor of this plan and play by its rules.  Successful franchises usually offer a stable post sport career.  Denver Broncos Quarterback Peyton Manning is a Papa John’s franchisee.

Preparation is the key

To sum up, many athletes have finished their game as great professional broadcasters, successful and strategic business owners, among other professional career options. Others have made poor decisions after their retirement, situation leading them to depression or bankruptcy. Anticipating and preparing for when your sports career finishes, will help minimize the difficulties and challenges that you will experience when the time comes.  It provides clarity and diminishes the pressure of an uncertain future.

The recommendation is to reflect on your sports-related skills and other current interests outside sports, and think about how they can be applied to other professional horizons during your athletic days, if possible. Do what is necessary to position yourself for entry into that professional choice before the game is over.  There is also specialized help such as post-retirement professional advisors who can provide great insight to assist athletes for this season of their sporting career. Sports are a wonderful, unique component to an athlete’s life.  But there is so much to life than just sports. Get ready to plan the next move and expect an array of careers across several industries that will potentialize your athletic background.