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Retirement from sports: Trying something new!

By Stefanos Gregoriou, The Sports Financial Literacy Academy, Nicosia, Cyprus  

The end of any playing career is a bittersweet and emotional moment, as players must leave behind an important part of their lives, which they had cherished for years: training routines, travelling abroad, performing for their fans and celebrating their achievements.

The prospect of letting go of all of these and transitioning to a completely new way of life may be intimidating and stressful, due to the uncertainty with which it comes. Being emotionally and financially prepared is critical for a smooth transition to life after sports.

The transition to a post-sports’ career is typically tough since most athletes have no prior work experience in a full-time job and may have lost out on schooling due to their sporting commitments. Some players prefer to stay in the sports’ sector, but there are many other alternatives as well.

We have seen today that a successful transition from sports to something completely different outside this field, first requires determining who you really are and who you want to be off the field. Most people have gone through this process by the age of 16 or later; determining their passions, identifying what they want to pursue outside sports, researching what abilities are necessary for it, and focusing on working on these skills.

Throughout their athletic careers, athletes have already developed a variety of transferable skills that can be applied to various aspects of their life, especially their post-sports’ profession in a new field. In order to have a successful career transition into something completely different, they need to

- build on these transferable skills;

- work on their personal resilience;

- obtain formal education and training; and

- create a professional network which may help them obtain a job or start their own business.

Another factor athletes should consider, when deciding on their new careers, is how independent they want to be in their future roles.

Many athletes become business owners once they retire. For example, Vinnie Johnson, the beloved player of Detroit Pistons, funded an automotive company called Piston Automotive after retiring in 1992.

Junior Bridgeman, a former professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks, also became a business owner after his retirement. After retiring from the NBA, he invested in Wendy's and Chili's franchises and, eventually, owned over 100 different restaurants, before selling them in 2016.

Becoming a business owner allows you to be your own boss, having freedom and autonomy, but, at the same time, taking on major responsibilities.

On the other hand, athletes have the option of working as employees, having a steady salary and much less stress than owning a business.

There are many examples of former athletes, who have turned their careers away from sports, to work for someone else. For example, NBA star Adrian Dantley, now works as a crossing guard for kids. Myroll Rolle, a former NFL safety, decided to study neurology after leaving the NFL. Rolle is now a Global Neurosurgery Fellow at Harvard Medical School.

In any case, athletes should focus on choosing a career path which will make them feel happy and fulfilled: matching their career and life objectives, goals, skills and personal values.

As sporting success is based on careful planning and significant preparation, athletes can use that same mentality to start preparing for retirement from sports and trying something new, whilst maintaining a comfortable lifestyle.

For further information and advice, log onto: ‘’

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The editors of  the Journal Sports Law & Taxation are Professor Ian Blackshaw and Dr Rijkele Betten, with specialist contributions from the world's leading practitioners and academics in the sports law and taxation fields.

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Maisto e Associati, Milano

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