Concluding an Athletic Career
Exploring lessons that carry into an athletes next chapter in life.
The end of my athletic career may be closer than I thought. In my 20 years of life, only the first two years did not consist of sports. Two weeks ago I learned I have two Add to dictionary hernias (holes in the abdominal wall above the belly button). Along with the two hernias I have a persistent partial tear in the right meniscus causing constant irritation and a possible impinged nerve in my tricep causing a tendon to snap over my elbow. Through two English 101 research projects this past quarter, I have already been researching the effects of athletic retirement. Now this research is becoming very relevant in my own life. I have recently been contemplating a major decision concerning sports because of how the above problems could impact the rest of my life.
I need to prepare myself for “Life After Athletics.”
Through my research, three key aspects carry on throughout an athlete’s life after sports have concluded: confidence, dedication, and time management. When competing, athletes learn how to build confidence in themselves and their team in order to perform at their greatest potential. The confidence stems into other aspects of life once sports have concluded. As researching in a second project for English 101, many people responded to a survey I created confirming that confidence continues on. When confidence is built, athletes become more dedicated, which then translates to a growing love and passion for the sport.
The idea of dedication stems from the amount of time and effort athletes dedicate to achieve the results they strive for. One survey response from a current college athlete said, “Sports taught me to never quit, push my myself, and to deal with pressure.” Another survey response from a retired athlete stated, “A lot of my drive to succeed probably stems from sports because I was taught at such a young age that determination to do well breeds a good athlete/person.” As athletes move into a life without sports, dedication follows them. There is time and work dedication needed to obtain the results athletes want without a magical shortcut. Of course, putting vast amounts of time into anything will result in not only improved time management skills, but a broader knowledge of how to use time wisely and effectively.
Competing as an athlete in college is the equivalent to having a part-time job. Student-athletes school schedule, work schedule, homework time, and if they are lucky, social time revolves around practices and games. It’s easy to fall behind and get stuck in a hole there is a neglect for homework because of the time demand both athletics and academics require. Just this quarter I had several weeks where I would have only five hours of sleep at night because of my poor time management skills. Since then, I have learned to use my time much more effectively, resulting in better academics, better athletics, and most importantly, better sleep. Things such as better sleep, better time management, and an overall improved way of life will all follow into the next chapter of my life.
Retirement from sports is completely individual and personal. A lot of what life is like after sports depends on how the retirement came to be. If an athlete retires voluntarily, they might have a little more peace with the transition than an athlete who retires involuntarily. My friend John who used to compete as a swimmer in college is no exception to this. During his freshman year he developed asthma to chlorine. The asthma developed to the point he could only be around a pool for more than five minutes before having an asthma attack. John was forced retire. He currently has what I would call withdrawals. John constantly talks about trying to swim again, but in the end, his career as an athlete is over.
A life with sports is unique to athletes. Athletes learn so much more from sports than just how to a good teammate and player. “Life After Athletics” is something no one can truly prepare for. Reaction to retirement depends on who the individual is and in what ways sports have created an impact on their life. Previously being a student-athlete, take the lessons you have learned from sports and let them help better your life from here on out.