From One Playing Field to the Next

Business Life Lessons Sports Stacie Townsend

From One Playing Field to the Next | Stacie Townsend

If you grew up an athlete, then you understand how “that” feeling never really goes away—once an athlete, always an athlete. This is despite the fact that most athletes never go pro in sports, as most athletes finish their athletic careers upon graduating high school or, for some, college.

Student-Athletes All Sports
High School Student-Athletes 7,300,000
College Student-Athletes 492,000
Percent Moving from High School to College 6%
Percent Moving from College to Pro 2%
*Based on 2018 statistics from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Nevertheless, each of these athletes will, as the NCAA states, “go pro in something other than sports.” At a single point in time, each of these athletes will shift their entire lives from trying to be the best possible athlete in their respective sport, to being the best [insert job description here]. This is no easy task, and many athletes struggle (especially mentally and emotionally) with this transition as they grapple with who they are without their respective sport.

This struggle will be exasperated for the hundreds of thousands of athletes currently in college, especially for the student-athletes set to graduate in May 2020, as the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic cancelled or otherwise suspended the entire sporting world. These graduating student-athletes face a difficult decision as to whether to return to school for another year of eligibility (which the NCAA granted to all student-athletes), or to venture on to the next playing field. Despite what these athletes decide in the coming months, every athlete will, at some point, eventually face the moment when they pivot to the next playing field of life.

Although the defined landscape of sport will disappear, these athletes will search for their new passion and next playing field. And, they are not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of athletes that are facing the same issues at the same time, and even those athletes that graduated a decade ago, like myself, are among athletes that are still a work-in-progress, continuing to evolve, and continuing to compete on a new playing field to make this new phase of life the best phase yet.

So, how can we help each other be champions in both sport and in life? 

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