Speaking Point: With the recent apparent suicide of Junior Seau, former linebacker for the San Diego Chargers of the NFL, the question must be asked... How do athletes handle the transition back to civilian life from years of being an athlete? Most people don’t think about or have much compassion for the very real struggle professional athletes have when their playing days are over. Everyone is so focused on how much money these athletes make that they have little compassion for their life after the game stops for them. The prevailing sentiment is that with all that money, they could do whatever they want. Yet, we all have to remember that these people have developed an identity and daily, weekly, seasonal, and yearly rituals that they have lived by for years and years since they were very young.
Speaking Point: Sports Illustrated reports that 78% of former professional athletes either file for bankruptcy or have financial stress and difficulties when the income ends...Why? Because they leave unprepared.
Speaking Point: Begin developing an exit strategy from the game, the lifestyle, and the identity both financially and functionally early in your career while fully active as a player…the athletes who do this transition much more smoothly.
Speaking Point: Learn about yourself and what makes you "tick" and get comfortable with those qualities about you that you will need to attend to in your new life. Those qualities don't change, only the context does.
Speaking Point: Network with people outside the sport early while playing, so that as you get close to retirement or it all ends abruptly due to injury, you have people to connect with and don’t feel the panic of the moment.
Speaking Point: Prepare your people. Prepare your family and all those who are living the "good life" with you, so that they are aligned with your plans.
Speaking Point: And most importantly, understand who you are beyond the game, what you believe in and stand for, and what your purpose is each and every day.
Speaking Point: Life begins when we are ready to embrace it.
Speaking Point: We all have many lives within us...however...we ONLY have one purpose of who we are. The challenge is to find all the different ways to manifest it.