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After Professional Sports: Where Are They Now?

After Professional Sports: Where Are They Now?

Professional athletes live in the limelight. The media keeps us up to date with their lives throughout their careers. But, what we don’t know is what happens when they set aside their sports careers. Let’s take a look at the lives of professional athletes, after professional sports.

Injuries can be severe, lingering even after the players are done with professional sports

Sports professionals have it made. High dollar salaries, popularity, and sometimes eternal fame in the hearts of their fans. The glory of sports has a price. Many are plagued by injury after professional sports. The NFL is one of the best examples of this — players take so many blows to the head they often suffer from memory loss or dementia. In fact, they are 19 times more likely to develop these conditions than the average person. They have taken more precautions after players filed a class action lawsuit against the league, yet so many suffered from injuries they were forced to pay a large sum to the complainants.

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    Cristiano Ronaldo after scoring a goal

    Many become philanthropic

    The large sums of money garnered by over-sized stadiums and lucrative contracts allow the players to be charitable in their retirement, or during their career. Cristiano Ronaldo famously paid for a dying boy’s medical treatment after he asked for a pair of shoes before he died. Many of the wealthiest players have become pillars of their communities, while there are a few who wind up in the press with one legal issue or another — your coworkers might too if they were professional sports players.

    Some go broke

    Mike Tyson was once a world champion boxer that took in 30 million dollars for one fight. As his career declined however, he spent his fortune and eventually went bankrupt. We’ve seen this from other stars as well, but none have rebounded as effectively as Tyson. After biting off the ear of an opponent in one fight, he went on to cameo in The Hangover trilogy. However, Tyson is not the best role model for your children — he was once quoted in a press conference as saying “I’ll eat your children.”

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      Mike Tyson at a recent press conference

      They never leave the field, mat, or quidditch pitch

      Did you know quidditch is a real sport now? Seriously, look it up — they hold a US World Cup, though it should be called a national cup as there are only American teams and it’s held in the States. If you’ve played sports for as long as a professional player, you will know that the sport will always be in you. Whether you’re a wrestler that takes well to an octagon, or a rugby player that finds himself in the NFL, sports will enrich your life. Many find themselves coaching young players that will become what they used to be.

      professional sports
        Sonny Bill Williams

        The turnover rate is insane — you might already know a former professional sports player

        You can’t retire at 65 from a football team. As long as you can perform well enough to keep up with people in their early 20s, you might have a job. Not every sport is as grueling on the body as football. Gary Player from South Africa has the distinction of being the only pro golfer that isn’t American to achieve a career grand slam. Gary played into his 70s. You really can’t ask more from life than golfing for a job till you’re in your old age. That’s likely what he had planned for his retirement anyways.

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          Legends of Golf in Savannah, GA April 19, 2010

          Where are they now?

          If you feel like you haven’t seen your favorite player in some time, whether they haven’t been listed in a news article, or their faces aren’t on the television anymore, you might want to go to a stadium or venue. Your childhood idol has not died — trust me, the media would have told you. If you don’t want to wait for a sighting when they are entered into a hall of fame or other honorary museum, you might want to go to the place where they used to play. Most of them have stayed in the city that cheered for them in some way. They might just return to visit a past glory, or they might be everywhere you look (even on your shoe)!

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            Featured photo credit: tableanty via flickr.com

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            Last Updated on August 20, 2019

            Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

            Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

            Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

            This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

            The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

            Curiosity

            Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

            People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

            Patience

            Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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            When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

            Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

            A Feeling for Connectedness

            This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

            A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

            The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

            With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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            1. Research

            Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

            Learning the Basics

            Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

            Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

            What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

            Hitting the Books

            Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

            Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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            Long-Term Reference

            While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

            My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

            2. Practice

            Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

            A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

            Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

            3. Network

            One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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            These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

            Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

            4. Schedule

            For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

            Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

            Final Thoughts

            In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

            If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

            At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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            Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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