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The Psychology of Professional Athletes

  • Broadcast in Sports
Jon Hansen

Jon Hansen


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In addressing the probability of "a satisfying and rewarding career" as a professional athlete "Digger" Phelps, who is the former University of Notre Dame basketball coach disclosed in 1983 that "I still have to tell most of the kids who come to play for me that they're not going to make it as pros, that they should forget that dream . . . and that, even if they do make it, the average pro career is only three and a half years, and when it's over, they'll still have another 50 years to live.

Last week on BTW! I talked with 3 former professional football players about their lives after their respective careers came to an end.

It was a telling story in that it emphasized the fact that besides being one play away from retirement as a result of injury, the average career is but a whisp of smoke within the context of the remaining and long years that athletes face when the cheering comes to an end.  And make no mistake, as our guests stressed when your life as pro ends, it ends period.

Gone for many are the big paychecks, public recognition and the feeling of being part of a team.  In other words your life as you knew it is over.  

For the majority of former pros what awaits them is unemployment, divorce, financial destitution and for some the daunting challenges of dealing with addiction.

But life doesn't have to end up that way, as there are options for making a successful transition to a life after professional sports.

Joining me this evening to talk about what those options are is renown sports psychologist Dr. Jack Singer, who will provide sound advice for former athletes, in fact for anyone facing a significant life change whether it be in career, financial setback or death of a partner.