Life after pro sports – what athletes do when they retire

Life as a professional athlete is often everything people dream of as a young child. They are getting to do the sport they love, and usually, they get paid millions of dollars for it if they reach the elite level. We can only stay at the top of our physical peak for so long before someone younger and fitter comes along though. An athlete’s career is short, so what do they do when they retire?


Who better to coach the next best athletes than someone who has already been to the top and done it all? Many ex-professional athletes turn to coaching, and some of them end up being really great at it. Coaches like Pep Guardiola in soccer, Phil Jackson in basketball, and Mike Ditka in football are all great examples of success after playing. Their players respect what these former pros are trying to teach them, and sometimes that’s enough to get the athletes to perform at their best.

TV work

Just like athletes want to hear from former players, so do the fans. Another common career for sports stars after they retire is to work in analysis, and their expert opinions can turn a good broadcast into a great one. Ex-pros like Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, and Tony Romo are current examples of fan-favorite commentators from the game they love.

With so many sports broadcasts these days there is a high demand for ex-athletes to commentate on their former sports. They can break down what athletes are thinking, and that gives the viewers a better understanding of the plays.


Some sportspeople are affiliated with one franchise for such a long time that when they retire, they become a legend in that part of the world. A Lakers legend like Magic Johnson could have spent the rest of his days representing the team he played his entire NBA career for as an ambassador. He chose to become an executive, but there are plenty of former legends in sport happy to represent their franchises without getting involved in how they are run.

Take up another sport

Some athletes know they can no longer compete in their own sport at the highest level, but that doesn’t mean they can’t compete in another. Michael Jordan took up professional baseball for a while, but many other former sports stars stick to amateur sports.

Golf is a favored sport of former athletes because even though they might never make it as pros, there is still an element of competition in the game. Former Olympian Michael Phelps, for instance, is an accomplished golfer and even holds the record for the longest televised putt in golf history at 159 ft.

Business ventures

There is no secret that top athletes in sports like football, basketball, and baseball earn contracts worth millions of dollars per year. There is only so much they can spend that money on, and when they retire, they find that making money is a new type of competition.

Former New York Yankee, Alex Rodriguez, is one of the most successful sports stars when it comes to business thanks to the development of his A-Rod Corp. The investment company has influence in the real-estate market, sports, and the media.


Some athletes cash in on their stardom and find their way to Hollywood. The most obvious example of a former athlete turned movie star is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who is quite literally the biggest film star in the world right now.

Professional athletes already have the action star bodies, and other stars like Terry Crew and Jason Statham also used to be athletes. Crews tried his luck becoming a pro football player, and Statham was a competitive diver for Great Britain. They retired early and didn’t regret it as they found success in film not long after.

Back to school

When they’re in the middle of their successful careers, many sports stars don’t really think about life afterward. Some skip school altogether to become the best athlete they possibly can, which means they’ve not got a formal education. To set an example to their children, and to have some pride in something other than sports, many ex-athletes complete their education.

Michael Jordan is one of the wealthiest sports stars in history, but he went back to college to finish his bachelor’s degree in geography. Celebrated skater Michelle Kwan left school in 1999 to follow her Olympic dreams, but in 2009 she returned to college and completed her international studies degree.

Life isn’t over for professional athletes once they end their careers. Some struggle to adjust, but many find other things to do, while mostly remaining in sports on some level.