How Help for Athletes Transitioning to Their Next Career Is Improving
Many athletes struggle with what to do when their career in sports is over. Educational institutions, like colleges and universities, are not especially equipped to provide effective advice for student-athletes on how to transition to their next career. That is beginning to change, however, as some organizations are starting to offer transitional services to athletes.
Helping Athletes Learn about Their Next Steps
Often, athletes fail to prepare for their life after their sporting career ends. This is natural to some extent, as their focus is on the present and being the best they can be at their sport. Part of the problem is that athletes have traditionally had few resources to call upon that can help them transition to the next phase of their lives. Stepping into this void are companies that offer educational and training services to athletes to prepare them for the realities of a post-sports career.
The recent adoption of the name, image, and likeness policy by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has allowed student-athletes to market themselves and earn money from their efforts. NCAA member-schools have quickly adapted to the new situation, offering advice to student-athletes about how to manage and market themselves. This financial and career advice, learned while the student-athletes are still in their prime sporting years, can prepare them for life after sports. This is a welcome change in college athletics that will benefit thousands of young men and women.
Game Plan is one organization dedicated to educating athletes about various aspects of their transition out of active sports. It offers online and in-person courses and provides networking opportunities with top employers around the country. Game Plan has partnered with hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the United States to develop e-learning programs that fit the specific needs of student-athletes.
One such partner is Michigan State University, where Lorenzo Guess, director of player enrichment for MSU football said of the partnership with Game Plan, “At Michigan State University, we are committed to building our student-athlete skills whether on campus or away. Game Plan’s curriculum assists our Player Development staff by offering innovative e-learning resources for student-athletes at any level. Providing these resources virtually has allowed our staff to track their progress while our student-athletes develop life-long skills to be the best versions of themselves.”
Meanwhile, Sports Management Worldwide is a sports management company that has devoted resources to helping transitioning athletes. It offers eight-week training courses in sports agency, athlete marketing and branding, sports analytics, sports media, and other areas that allow active athletes to transition while remaining in the world of sports.
Helping Athletes Cope with the End of Their Sports Career
Equally important to retiring athletes are counseling services, to deal with some of the common mental health issues that occur in transitioning back to civilian life. The NCAA reports that over a third of all college athletes experience depression and anxiety. The Better You Institute offers many services that can help athletes cope with mental health issues. Counselors address common issues such as loss of identity and body confidence in therapy sessions designed to promote better mental health.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognized the importance of elite athletes preparing for life after sports. Its Athlete365 program takes a multi-faceted approach toward transitioning into a new life. From mental health services to career and financial planning advice, this program is designed to give athletes the help they need to successfully begin the rest of their lives.
Career websites like LinkedIn and Indeed maintain content that informs former athletes of the best and most popular careers after retirement, which of their athletic skills are most transferable to other careers, and other advice to aid in finding their next career. This content can be very useful for athletes who are unsure of how to use their sports experience and skills to find employment.
After decades of neglect, companies and organizations are realizing the need to educate and inform athletes about the challenges they will face after their sports careers end. From elite Olympic and professional athletes to student-athletes whose careers will end with graduation, there is more information and help available now than ever before to aid in the transition to a successful post-sports career. As these new programs and businesses prove to be successful, more will naturally follow, and athletes will finally be able to have the proper resources available to ensure their post-athletic lives are as successful and rewarding as their sporting lives were.