I can get so caught up in finding a solution or fixing the situation that I forget that some problems are cyclical and don't really show up until later in life.
Sometimes you have to experience a loss of some kind and other times you just have a moment of disgust (or clarity) and decide you want to make a change. You decide that you want life to be different. In respect to that I haven't really explained what issue I'm trying to add conversation to. I'm talking about life after sports. Not getting a job to fill your time but overall quality of life. I'm talking about that part of life where you wake up and are excited because you're alive. I'm talking about being so joyful and having peace even in bad times that you are just grateful. That's life.
I say this with all due respect, but I'm not really that concerned with helping athletes find a job after they're playing career ends. From my experience and from the stories of athletes that I've interviewed, finding a job (insert also career) wasn't that difficult. It was the least of their worries. They found one no problem. The plot thickened when I ask them are you happy though? Are you at least content with your job? Are you happy in life? Are you fulfilled? Do you have meaning or do something meaningful everyday on the job? Do you get the same passion that you got when you stepped on the floor and you heard the crowd? Is that your life or are you just existing? That was a lot of questions I know, but I was trying to get to their heart. I was trying to strike a nerve. Some of them were actually great. Others admitted that life hadn't turned out the way they thought it would, but they were nervous about changing course or just didn't know where to begin. I thought that was a fair answer. Hell, it was my answer for almost 10 years!
Quiet as kept, there are many coaches, personal trainers, PE teachers, sports broadcasters, and many other people that are in the athletic arena that went into these field because they felt that was their only option (*disclaimer not all)*. Some have grown fond of their chosen profession and some enjoy doing the things that they do for the world of sports. However there are some that if they could be doing something else, they would be or they will be participating in the passion that they long forgot or something that they didn't get a chance to participate in when they spent their whole life playing sports.
How did it get to this point for some?
1. It's easy. It's easy to go and find a camp and work there. It's not easy to find a coaching job but being an athlete straight out of college doesn't hurt. Also it doesn't require you to learn anything else right away, unless you plan on excelling in the coaching field. Even then, you kind of have the baseline knowledge and you can kind of roll with that to begin with.
2. Depression. It's hard going from being the shyt to being a "regular person". No shade to regular people, but when you have been applauded and cheered and validated and pretty much everything was taken care of you for almost 8 years of high school and college you really don't have that much say over your life. Once you aren't there anymore you have to take control over every aspect and that can be overwhelming.
3. Tunnel Vision. There may have been a singular focus on sports when you're trying to be the best. You eat, sleep, and breathe the game so much you forget that there are other things you're good at or curious about or interested in. Your whole life revolves around sport and getting better at that sport. Sometimes it even turns into being a job and then you got to add on the pressure of maybe you're doing it for a parent or you're doing it for scholarships so your parent doesn't have to pay for school. It doesn't even cross your mind that there are other scholarship opportunities out there. You may be playing because someone is vicariously living through you and you don't want to let them down. You doing it for the neighborhood... for the culture... for your people. You think ball is life right? Let's look at the numbers. Say you play from age 8 - 22. That's about 14 years. From age 22-90 that's 68 years. So ball is not life if you look at it that way. I was listening to an interview that Lebron James was doing and he talked about why he invested in Blaze Pizza and he talked about a lot of other things too but one of the things that stood out was he said he thought about his life after sports. He said he realized it would be much longer than the time that he spent on the court so he wanted to make sure that he had a good quality of life not just getting out and existing or being taken advantage of.
I know this post has been a little dark but on a high note life after sports is what you make of it. Some things that turned it around for me was
1. Re-engaging with my sense of curiosity. I like to say PASSION is curiosity on FIRE!
2. Letting go of the shame of not going as far as I'd like to. I never won a championship which was something I always dreamed of doing. I won several individual awards, but I wanted that championship. I had to let go of the feeling of shame and not reaching that milestone.
3. Looking at life from a holistic standpoint. Life is bigger than sports. It's bigger than "what I do". I wanted to have a stellar quality of life and I wanted to positively impact the lives of those I encountered. I learned this about myself. It's always been apart of be me even through sports.
4. Putting fear in his proper place. Fear has held me back from so many things. I think fear is useful at times, but I had to stop operating from a fear based mind.
5. I reminded myself that even though I'm not a part of a team anymore, I'm still apart of something bigger than myself. I had to find my place. Find my role. Walk in my vocation even though it looked different than being on the court.
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