Professional athletes are the heart of the sport system. Their performances and personalities form the foundations of the economic, social, cultural value of clubs, leagues and public events. But becoming a professional athlete is not easy, and staying at the top of the game for years means celebrity status but stress too, both mental and physical. Equally challenging is dealing with the transition that comes after a career in sports, because often it represents a life change without a clear plan. In light of this reality, precise and proactive career planning is becoming more and more critical for athletes, whether they decide to continue to play a role in sports or to move into a different professional arena.
Let’s begin with the assumption that we have one – and only one - career. This career represents the way our personal and professional life progresses, with all the major milestones along the way. Being an athlete is nothing more than one milestone on this path.
For athletes, the starting line is not their sport, but their individual and professional dimensions taken together, as a whole. Take Stephen Curry, the NBA Golden State Warriors star, and look at his descriptors on his Linkedin profile: “NBA Athlete, Entrepreneur, Investor, Producer.” Professional athletes, during their sport careers, have access to an exceptional set of resources in terms of finances, reputation, visibility and contacts. And this is true, relatively speaking, even for athletes in minor leagues with fewer resources. For a certain period in their professional lives, they are at the center of their local areas or communities. So, to plan the later stages in their careers, they should exploit their time as athletes.
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