As we all know, professional athletes cannot play sports professionally their entire lives. At a certain point their bodies just can’t handle what these sports demand of them. How old athletes can be and still play depends on the sport. One can play tennis until a much older age than you can play football, but there always comes a time when an athlete must retire. So how does one make money as a retired athlete?
If, over the course of your career as an athlete, you have become famous, it will be easy to make a living when you can no longer play. You can be in ads or become the spokesperson for a company. But there are many players who have to find a completely new way to make a living. Some become referees or coaches, but most have to leave the game altogether.
Marshawn Lynch was a professional football running back who went to Oakland Technical High School and UC Berkeley, and then played for the Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders. He retired in 2018 and went on to create his own restaurant in Oakland called Rob Ben’s Restaurant and Lounge. Even though Lynch committed his life to football, he made something for himself when he couldn’t play anymore. Similarly, Terry Crews was a football player whose career was, as Business Insider called it, forgettable. But after he left the game, he became a famous actor.
Scott Ward had a fairly successful career in the NFL, but he struggled physically and so he retired at 26. According to the Financial Times, Ward now works as a trash collector in the neighborhood where he grew up. Being a trash collector was probably not something he wanted to do, but Ward had to make money somehow.
Many athletes choose to stay in the game by becoming a coach, referee or sports broadcaster. On ESPN, almost all of the broadcasters are retired players. However, one must have a certain amount of charisma and ability to capture the crowd to be a broadcaster. Being a coach is very difficult and takes a lot of skill as well, because you are making decisions for the whole team, and if something goes wrong it’s on you. And so many people end up like Scott Ward.
Retirement begins to loom over everyone once they reach a certain age. For athletes, that age comes much sooner than for the rest of us. A person’s body can only last so long. Finding a job after retirement is also harder for athletes because their sport might be their only skill if they didn’t go to college. That is why retired athletes like Marshawn Lynch and Terry Crews are so impressive. They have managed to create new careers that they love even after they could no longer play the game that they spent their whole lives training to play.