To those who love sports, professional athletes appear to have dream jobs. They get to play their favorite sport for a living, earn the adoration of millions of fans and earn huge salaries. In reality, however, working as a professional athlete is not as glamorous as it may seem. There are several significant downsides to pursuing a career in the world of professional sports.
Managing Finances is Difficult
Although many professional athletes do command impressive salaries, the average career for football, basketball, baseball and hockey players ranges from just three and a half to approximately five and a half years. If athletes are not careful, they can easily go through their savings in just a short time, leaving them in difficult financial positions later in life. Those who are wise and forward-thinking will work with companies that provide wealth management for professional athletes. Still, a career in professional sports lacks the stability of most other professions.
They Are Virtually Guaranteed to Get Injured
Football players are the ones who deal with the most severe injuries. The aggressive blunt force trauma that comes with tackling and being tackled several times each game leads to brain damage at alarming rates. A recent study which examined the brains of people who played football at the high school level, the college level and in the NFL found that 87% of them had a brain disorder called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. CTE is associated with dementia, suicide and reduced capacity for memory.
Even in non-contact sports, however, tendon and ligament injuries from overuse are extremely common. Players risk their health and well-being each time they step onto the field or court.
Divorce is Common
The fact that professional athletes travel so frequently and the stress and pressure of their work is not conducive to a happy and stable family life. While the average rate of divorce in the United States is around 50 percent, the divorce rate for professional athletes is estimated to be between 60 and 80 percent. In general, the lifestyle of a professional athlete is not well-suited to those who consider marriage and family a high priority.
Although professional athletes get to do what they love and often earn high salaries, those benefits come with several major drawbacks. If you are extremely talented in a sport and dream of pursuing it professionally, it is important to consider whether the pros of doing so ultimately outweigh the cons.