Page 4 - Touchline 32-JULY 2019
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            FROM HERO TO ZERO?

                                                                                                                                      Often, it takes a while for the reality to hit. They might
            HOW DO SPORTS STARS                                                                                                     retire on a high, get a surge of attention, but when that

            RETIRE GRACEFULLY?                                                                                                                   dims, they have to ask the question: what next?

              Sporting greatness can translate into lasting fame   This is then cemented through up to 20 years of being             Lauren Jackson, former Australian basketballer, is one of   Whilst she was still playing, she started a career that
            that means a player can remain in the public spotlight.   singularly known for your success in fulfilling that role, and   many former players who has struggled with the change,   was financially successful. On retirement, she researched
            Yet in this world of professional sports, the number   the reminders of this are everywhere.                           and this was not helped by the fact she feels as though she   the impacts of detraining and created an exercise
            of players that step into retirement is so great that   Even social circles can be formed because of this role.        has been “put out to pasture”. That sense of betrayal can   regime that would forestall all the risks inherent with
            many get lost in the shadows. Depression and other     Friends and partners may be drawn to the player because         haunt players as they struggle to adapt.           a less active lifestyle. And she spent the first year of
            mental illnesses are becoming a real issue within the   of their success, and not because of who they actually are.      Often, it takes a while for the reality to hit. They might   retirement participating in wish-fulfillment activities
            ex-sporting community.                                 This can lead to disappointment and even trust issues once      retire on a high, get a surge of attention, but when that   such as travel, which helped her overcome the feeling of
              Engage playing the world’s smallest violin at the    their position in the sporting world changes.                   dims, they have to ask the question: what next?    disconnectedness.
            plight of these once-famous people. They were           Financially, retirement can cause significant problems.          Experts in transitioning say that there are many ways a
            idolized and made plenty of money doing something      Earning power is significantly reduced: not many day jobs       player can protect themselves, and many reasons why they   So clearly, it helps to have a plan.
            that others could only dream of. So what if they can’t   have the earning potential of professional sports. Add        should be optimistic. The image of a person who is suited   Regardless, the most important factor in
            make it in the real world? They certainly had a dream   to that the loss of perks such as free medical care and        only for throwing a ball or running a race is reductive.
            head start! A classic first-world problem.             fitness facilities and a retired player can find their situation   Today, most sportspeople have skills that should prepare   making a successful transition is having
              This opinion probably keeps a few bar room           spiraling unless they have carefully planned.                   them for all sorts of professions.                 a strong network. One of the features of
            conversations going, but the reality is that            Speaking of health, players often leave their sport with         Most have years of experience speaking to the media   professional sports that they most miss is
            transitioning from professional sports into retirement   long-term injuries that need constant care and this can       and many have some form of public relations training.   the sense of camaraderie. In this case, it is
            is a very stressful and financially damaging           be another source of dismay. Moreover, the eating and           They are mentally strong beyond the reach of most
            experience for thousands of people around the          training habits of a sportsperson are very different from       people, as they have had to work incredibly hard to put   crucial that they keep working with a group
            world. Depression causes damage within families and    that of a regular person. One study states that only one        themselves on an elite level. Often they know how to work   of people that feel akin to a team. This
            communities, and these former athletes need to be      third of retired sportspeople train vigorously. Weight gain     within a team of ego-driven individuals. On top of all these   can be anyone, but they should be able to
            treated with compassion.                               is a very real danger for them and can be partly as a result    advantages, they often retain community good will and   provide assistance and advice.
              There are many reasons for the difficulties that     of depression.                                                  some celebrity. All of these traits can be mobilized to make
            transition causes. One of the primary causes is         There are many examples of players who have not                them very employable.
            “identity foreclosure”, which is the way that a younger   managed to make the step into retirement. It is estimated      Returning to the Number One reason why transitioning   Being able to talk about the feelings of loss and hope can
            player might attach the entirety of their self-esteem to   that it can take up to two years to transition fully, and   can be so difficult, identity foreclosure, it is crucial that   make all the difference.
            their role as a sportsperson. Most players start signing   this is when a player has been prepared. In some cases,     players be taught to see themselves as individuals outside   A more detailed review of the issues relating to transition
            professional contracts right around the same time      the player will never fully find their place in the world.      of their sport. They need to come to terms with the fact   from sport and what can be done to alleviate these is
            they are self-actualising as independent individuals,   Footballer George Best is perhaps the most famous early        that one day they will no longer be a sportsperson.   contained in the feature article ‘Mind the Gap’ in this issue
            and such is the adulation and attention they are       example of a fantastically talented player who lost his way,      Legendary Australian Netballer Liz Ellis came to this   of Touchline.
            getting through their role as a “cricketer” or “sprinter”   and whose drinking led directly to an early death.         understanding early in her career, and crafted a plan to                         By Timothy Mottram
            that this identity comes to totally define them.                                                                       help her in the future.

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