Adjustments are needed for the modern-day student-athlete.
In the electrifying world of sports, where the glory of victory often overshadows the struggles behind the scenes, there are glaring gaps that demand our attention. Having worked within the sports industry, mainly in college sports, I've noticed five crucial cracks that significantly impact the lives of athletes and their transition beyond the game.
1. The Perils of an Exclusive Athletic Identity
Celebrating athletic dedication is essential, but not at the expense of neglecting other pursuits. Athletes must be encouraged to cultivate interests beyond sports, reducing the risk of an identity crisis post-retirement. Organizations must foster a supportive environment that allows athletes to explore their passions alongside their athletic journey.
2. The Psychological Strain of Injuries
Injuries are a stark reminder of athletes' vulnerability. Beyond the physical pain, the emotional toll can be overwhelming. Schools and organizations must prioritize psychological recovery, offering counseling and resources to help athletes navigate the mental strain of being sidelined.
3. Bridging the NIL Support Gap
With Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) legislation, athletes can now capitalize on their brands. However, many organizations lack structured support systems to guide athletes in maximizing these opportunities. Institutions must provide resources on contract negotiation, branding, financial literacy, and other topics supporting NIL opportunities' success.
4. The Silence Around Retirement
Retirement isn't just an event; it's a profound life transition. Athletes accustomed to the spotlight can find themselves grappling with purpose and identity. It's also a transition that hits everyone differently. Open conversations, mentorship programs, and psychological assistance can aid athletes in embracing this new phase with resilience.
5. Developing Job-Ready Skills
Hours of training leave limited room for skill-building beyond the field, leaving some athletes unprepared to navigate the workforce successfully. Colleges/Universities must foster an approach that prioritizes athletes' professional development and implement new resources for the betterment of their athletes.
Here are my top 2 ways for coaches and organizations to begin and continue to fill this gap!
Workshops are my personal favorite because it's so flexible! They can be done in 30min-1hr and digitally or in-person, which is perfect for the busy schedules of student-athletes and coaches. The bottom line, it's a great way to connect, add valuable information, and give athletes a chance to ask questions relative to their personal experiences.
Tech allows us to bring personal and professional development to athletes' fingertips anywhere, anytime. The Training Ground App, a holistic development app for athletes, helps coaches align with wellness, academic and athletic performance, and job/NIL opportunities for their athletes. Best of all helps track your athletes' growth throughout the season.
Filling these gaps will take time to happen.