March 12 – An athlete’s job has changed in the last decade. While the primary focus is still to perform well in their respective discipline, the job has become more diverse. It is therefore the responsibility of the athlete and management team to determine a few things
- How am I going to maintain and improve my performance aiming at all times for world-class standards?
- How am I going to attract the most lucrative deals to ensure that my earnings are maximised?
- How am I going to meet the demands of the market by being a role model and one worthy of emulating?
- How am I going to play by the rules, yet fulfil the changing demand of organisations that keep me in check?
- How am I going to become satisfied knowing that once I retired I can be able to maintain my living standards, while even still contributing to the development of my sport?
There are some organisations we need to focus on like the World Anti-Doping Agency, established since 1999 – aimed at leading a collaborative worldwide movement for doping-free sport. This organisation today can impact on an athlete’s life in such a way, that in one act, can end a career or cause irreparable damage.
The recent disclosure of Maria Sharapova ten-year use of a banned substance is just one of the many incidents which have become public, but WADA is clear on their mandate and you can read here to see how they function https://www.wada-ama.org/en/who-we-are
A significant number of athletes across all sporting disciplines have received from a slap on the wrist to suspensions to life bans
This is track and field’s list https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_doping_cases_in_athletics
This is the NBA’s list https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_banned_or_suspended_by_the_NBA
This is the list of 99 who has tested positive for meldonium, the substance Sharapova has been using for ten years https://www.newstalk.com/99-athletes-have-already-tested-positive-for-meldonium-this-year
Some would say we are in a crisis with the use of drug in sport, but are we? What it really boils down to, is the athlete is the ONLY one responsible for anything that is ingested. Simple.
MONEY MAKING TIME
Athletes now are making far more money than a lot of other professionals, and like the traditional pros, they have support teams, or at least they should. Part of having a management team is to
- Ensure that team is equipped to guide you accordingly
- Make business and related decisions in the best interest of the team and/or the athlete
- Be aware
- Represent the “brand” in a way that is always up to international standard
So for example, completing whereabouts forms each quarter, while a tedious exercise, is one which is way too simple to be ignored.
We know that earnings are important to an athlete’s existence, however, the more an athlete earns is the more responsibility that comes with that. It is key to note too that while it is important to have a number of relationships with brands, they each have their own mode of operation and want different things at different times and could make the athlete work far harder off the field of play than one. There is an important way to strike that balance – work with brands that compliment.
VALUE OF AN ATHLETE
As mentioned earlier, athletes are top earners and like any other professional MUST see their craft as a job which is important to their well-being and to the support of their families. One simple click on Social Media can cause tremendous damage; one (failed) missed test is a reputational issue and could cause potential partners to reconsider their options to work with an athlete. So while there are far more opportunities, there are far more responsibilities.
Here is my recommendation to all athletes
- Show up for work
- Train hard to beat the world
- Be responsible in public spaces
- Attend workshops and seminars once in a while
- Visit with other professional athletes if you can
- Engage a capable team of professionals for support
- Follow the rules
- Use social media responsibly
- Plan for an after life
Those recommendations look simple but it is hard work, but once you are up to it, you can do it.