What do you assume to be an athlete’s greatest challenge: going to the Olympics, winning a medal (of any kind), or winning a gold medal? These may be dreams or goals, but a lifetime challenge for each athlete is retirement. It is almost a taboo subject among professional sportsmen, yet it is inevitable. The English Institute of Sport, together with the psychologists connected to the field, gathered information about what happens to an athlete when he or she stops doing sports professionally. And here are the most important parts of the published articles.
The first problem is the craving for competition. Professional athletes start training at about 13 (in some specific sport, such as rhythmic gymnastics, the entering age can be 3-5 years old) and continue competing for 15-20 years of their lives. This makes professional athletes real adrenalin addicts. And in regular life, it is hard to achieve the same level of tension as during a tough competition when the whole world is watching you.
Secondly, professional sports has a ruining impact on both your body and mind. Given that only 3 out of 4 athletes who earned medals at the Olympics earn enough to never work after retirement, the prospects look obscure for those who never made it to the Olympics. A retired athlete has to find a job. But they are trained to do nothing but sports, have no experience and a highly traumatized body. Besides, retired athletes suffer from a rather severe depression, which also makes finding a job difficult.
And the last problem that athletes face makes it even worse. Due to the depression and the feeling of uselessness, many people unintentionally put their most valuable relations under severe strain. This means even less sympathy and comforting from significant others, which inevitably leads to a deeper depression. Hopefully, The English Institute of Sport has identified the problem of athletes’ retirement as one of the biggest global sports problems. The Institute is actively working on programs of psychological rehabilitation and social integration for retired sportsmen.