Posted in Management, Sport

Star Athletes and Retirement

January 29 – Former National Football League (NFL) super star, Deion Sanders has been known to say “It’s important to walk away from the game and not have the game walk away from you because when the game walks away from you it can damage you mentally.” There are lot of things to consider when a star athlete decides to, is faced with or has to retire from active professional sport.

To go from playing in front of millions of fans live and via broadcast; traveling all over the world; meeting and greeting and so many other things that come with being a star athlete, to be faced with retirement for one of many reasons can be hard to consider.

The harsh reality is that athlete is now faced with

  • Lower income
  • Adjusting lifestyle to suit the income
  • Far less travel
  • Providing for some, a much bigger family

The key thing to retirement some experts say “is to find the passion that connected you to the sport to after sport life activities.” That is easier said that done. However, the same experts say in this 21st century, there is way too much access not to be able to put in place a retirement plan to comprehensively include finance, work, and any other issue which may arise, including depression.

Annette Lynch, Beach Volleyball Olympian from Australia has made a successful transition, but not before going back and forth on retirement. Lynch is an expert in what it takes to “succeed beyond the game.” In her public speaking and her book – Success Beyond Sport – it provides a guide for athletes to make a successful transition to “business and life.”

Her book was published in 2010 and inside she gives an insight on why it took her six years and three times to retire from sport; but four years to develop her program.  She has coached and mentored athletes, small business owners and leaders using her tools, strategies and experience as an entrepreneur, speaker and performance coach.

Tips from Lynch include: Athletes need to set goals for the future. Even just short term goals if long term goals are too difficult. Athletes need to dare to dream again with what they want to do with their life after sport and find a new passion. Otherwise they will just keep returning to compete in an effort to replace that feeling. Often if a comeback is unsuccessful it can leave the athlete feeling worse than before. More information on Lynch can be found

A CNN feature in 2013 states that “retirement terrifies sports stars. The end of a glittering career can feel like falling off a cliff to an athlete who thrives on fame and fortune. And the longer the career, the harder the end game seems to be.” The feature focused on former heavyweight boxer, Evander Holyfield, you can read more here

Brian Moore wrote in 2012 “Considering how dramatic the effects can be it is astonishing that more research is not available on its effects and that every sport does not have a firm strategy to deal with it.” His comprehensive article look at the British system and how some of the athletes fared when faced with retirement –

The point is, athletes are faced with a range of emotions when considering retirement. A tremendous amount of help is available and it should not be an issue to seek the professional help required to make the decision seamless as possible




A sport aficionado who writes, researches and presents on everything sport. A second book is out to prove her work's reach. She reads in her spare time.

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