3 Challenges Professional Athletes Face that They Can't Afford to Ignore
Life as a professional athlete is a breeze, right? That's what most non-athletes think. They have this belief that all athletes are living this great life on a professional athlete’s salary with no problems. Fantasies of living the dream life of an athlete are often reinforced by reality shows, entertainment shows, and even documentaries. The edited version of real-life paints an unfair and sometimes false view of what it’s really like to live the life of a professional athlete. People think life is full of travel, luxury living, and anything else that people view as a benefit. They don't realize that an athlete’s lifestyle can be anything but a breeze.
When we take an honest look at the demands of professional athletes, we can see that daily life isn’t quite what people might imagine or have been told to believe. Some of the challenges faced by professional athletes are the same as non-athletes while others are unique to the profession. Unfortunately, the list of problems is longer than this post but we want to take the time to highlight three challenges that professional athletes often face to let you know that we understand.
While other people think athletes have it all, we face one of the same problems that everyone else in the world faces—lack of time. Just like everyone else, we only have 24 hours in a day.
What most people don't realize is the amount of time that you have to invest in succeeding at the professional level of sports. Your schedule is often not your own. Having a daily planner is useful but using a pencil is recommended. Things change so quickly that using a pen would only lead to frustration.
When it's time to travel in order to compete, you don't always have the option to go or not. If you are scheduled to go, then you go regardless of what you have going on in your personal life. Even when you aren't traveling your time is not your own. It's filled with practice, recovery, meetings, appearances, and press conferences.
Don't get me wrong—you love your life as a pro athlete, but sometimes your schedule is taxing, and you aren't afforded the luxury of being exhausted. The public sees the highlight reel of your life and is often unaware of the behind-the-scenes demands of professional athletes. Heaven forbid you want to spend a day sitting on your couch binging on Netflix, but duty calls. Or, one of your friends has a birthday party or your kid has a school play, and you would like to be there for them.
But, your time is not your own. If you are scheduled to be there, you don't have the freedom to be where you want to be at that moment.
Lack Of An Honest Community
As a professional athlete, a lot of people come out of the woodwork wanting to be buddy-buddy with you. They have this idea that you have a padded bank account and you won't mind helping them enjoy some of the luxuries of life. But, when you start saying "no" or if unfortunately, the money goes, the "friends" go with it.
Many athletes have been shocked to find who their real friends were when falling on hard times. The people who were calling and hanging out with you every day when you could afford to be generous with your earnings scatter like bugs when the light shines on them.
It can also be challenging to have an honest community when you are in a world where one day the person is your teammate and the next day you are competing against them. In the sports world, you have to watch out for yourself, and this causes some people that were your "friends" to lose sight of the friendship in order to protect themselves.
It can be difficult to find those people that will be honest with you or stand by you no matter what. Non-athletes may experience a form of this, but when you’re a professional athlete, it can seem like you can never have any “true” friends.
Feeling Like You Have To “Have It All Together”
Even if you’re not the highest-paid professional athlete, you are constantly in the public eye. It's difficult to keep parts of your life private, especially now with social media and the craziness of the internet. There is a high expectation for athletes in both the sports and professional world to always appear on point. This creates a sometimes smothering feeling of needing to have it all together all the time.
When you live in the public eye others are constantly hearing about and judging your decisions without knowing or caring to know the details of a particular situation. In your mind, it appears that people are waiting for you to slip up so they can catch it on video, write about it online, or sell it to the highest bidder. It doesn't take long for the pressure of needing to "have it all together" creeps in.
Don't get me wrong—you love being an athlete. You appreciate the opportunity that you have been given, and you wouldn’t trade it for anything. But, you also have found that it doesn't come without challenges of its own.
I can totally identify with that because I've been there. And, that's why I love working with professional athletes now that I have transitioned out of the sports world. I understand that you don't have the time to constantly spend watching your money. You’ve worked hard to get where you are today.
You need someone that will be honest with you about your spending habits and isn't just trying to take a cut. You feel pressured to have it all together in life and finances and just don't know where to start. As a financial planner, I’ve got your back. Explore the ways that I can help you reach your long-term financial goals.