Money Smart Athlete Blog

Athletes: Developing a Plan for a Meaningful Post-Sports Career

Feb 21, 2024 | Life after College Sports

By Constantinos Massonos, Contributor

The majority of college athletes will not fulfill their dream of turning professional and they need to be as prepared as possible to face this reality. Shifting their focus from the pitch to a career that might not involve sports and building a new legacy, poses many challenges. This is due to the fact that an athlete’s identity is closely tied to their sport, but it’s certainly achievable with careful planning, preparation and persistence.

Ideally, athletes should start setting up their backup career plan as soon as they get on a path to play professional sports. This should be a highly individualized process that involves three main steps: reflecting, researching and planning.

The first step involves conducting self-observation and self-analysis which will help athletes determine and understand their interests and passions, recognize their strengths and weaknesses, clarify their values and identify their personal preferences. Being self-aware, will help athletes determine which careers align with their interests and core values, understand what type of workplace and tasks suit them best and increase the likelihood of finding meaning and fulfillment in the career of their choice.

The second step would be to research career options. While the sports industry might feel like a very familiar place to start and offers quite a range of careers in coaching, sports management, sports media and sports marketing, it is more sensible to conduct broader research. Online resources such as career websites and job boards can be eye opening to the various industries, job roles, and career paths available. Deeper research can reveal the educational requirements and salary information for each field.  After you make a shortlist of careers that interest you, you can reach out to professionals working in those industries to learn more about their career paths.

Once athletes have determined a career path they would like to pursue after sports, they can move to the third step and create an actual transition plan that will involve:

  • Gaining relevant education in addition to their college degree through internships, volunteer work, or further education or certifications in their desired field.
  • Identifying which of the skills and experience athletes have gained through their athletic career can be transferrable and valuable in a professional setting and seeking out opportunities to further develop these skills and expand their knowledge base.
  • Networking with people in the industry they want to transition to, especially former athletes who have successfully made their transition from sports to their desired field.
  • Prioritizing all the above steps and working towards them, whether it’s gaining experience, building your network, or pursuing further education or training.

Once you have your post-sports career plan in place, you will need to act. Whether it’s starting your own business, or pursuing further education or training, taking proactive steps towards your implementing your plan will help you create a meaningful post-sports career.

Don’t forget to stay flexible and keep an open mind as you explore different career options and opportunities. Your post-sports career path may not always follow a linear trajectory so you will need to make adjustments along the way and update your plan accordingly.

The Money Smart Athlete® Blog is established and run by the Sports Financial Literacy Academy® (SFLA). Through its education programs, the SFLA has the vision to financially educate and empower athletes of all ages to become better people, not just better athletes.  For more information on our courses, our SFLA Approved Trainer Program®, and how they can benefit you and your clients, please get in touch with us at [email protected].