Athletes earn respect for their excellent skills in sports, but they are often belittled in other aspects of society.
In 2018, Lebron James expressed his opinions on a political issue on a video and not long after his statement, a host from a news platform responded to James’ saying ‘it’s always unwise to seek political advice from someone who gets paid $100 million a year to bounce a ball.’ But James gracefully responded with a post of a photo on one of his social media saying…
“I AM MORE THAN AN ATHLETE”
A simple caption saying #wewillnotshutupanddribble followed the post.
This prejudice athletes experience is often overlooked, but it has always been existent. Even the so-called fans of a certain sport can carelessly assume that the players are not as intellectual or academically capable as non-athletes. It is called the Dumb Jock stereotype.
Numbers of surveys have been done regarding the perception of the student body towards student-athletes on their respective campuses. These surveys showed different figures of numbers, but similar results. And most of the student body think student-athletes are not as smart as an average student, or not academically competitive. At one point, it was found out that students had stronger feelings of disappointment, worry, and annoyance towards having a student-athlete as an academic partner. This would cause athletes’ confidence and efficacy in her/his academics to shrink. The research, despite proving how prevalent the problem is, still imparts a significant start for getting rid of that stereotype.
YOU ARE MORE THAN AN ATHLETE
Defeat the stereotype as you flourish in your sports career by simultaneously making an impact in other aspects of life. If you are an athlete, you may well know how easy it is to fall into the pit of sports. They say that engaging in an activity so intense that it takes most of your time, will slowly become the center of your identity.
While it is crucial to take your career seriously, it becomes critical if it becomes your identity. There will come a time when you’ll need to retire and let go of your title, and it will be hard.
But things are not supposed to be that way.
You are not supposed to be enmeshed with your career in the first place.
Your ultimate life goal must go beyond your professional success, and it should never label your life as a whole.
Here are some athletes who sought beyond and played a game beyond the game.
‘I knew I needed to share it with those around me who were facing the same struggles and challenges I have faced.’
Daniels, a former NFL player, had his soaring career cut short because of injuries in 2009. Unfortunately, and FORTUNATELY, his career was abruptly ended. But that was just his sports career.
By practicing mindfulness and meditation, he was able to figure out his greater purpose in life. After his time in the monastery, he changed the course of his life and found purpose in helping others who may have gone through the same challenges that he had gone through.
Daniels is now leading a life towards his ultimate goals by being an author, motivational speaker, a consultant in the areas of mindfulness and meditation, and the founder of Game Beyond the Game.
‘You know when you think things over and over, eventually something happens to bring that together.’
DeLamielleure, after a career in sports, became a firefighter for Charleston Fire Department, and soon after, became a fitness trainer and a co-owner of a fitness company. His story unfolded similarly to Daniels. His football career ended because of an unanticipated shoulder injury.
He was able to build a career from what started as a simple goal, and that is to keep a fit and healthy body after football. He advises all ages in sports, to never be afraid of failure. DeLamielleure believes that thinking positively, and surrounding oneself with positivity, will attract positivity.
‘Every day is a choice: how you train, how you eat, how you live your life…that’s a daily choice. Ultimately, you create your own story because of your choices.’
Moos is a woman in the game of basketball. She was a sixth-grader when she felt the need to improve her physical strength to be an outstanding basketball player.
Currently, she works as a Nutrition Consultant and a Personal trainer, after realizing her ability to extend help and share her knowledge with other people who are seeking a lifestyle change - from pregnant mothers, obese patients, and other people trying to live a healthier, longer life.
‘’I think what's left for me to accomplish is to continue to grow within myself, understand my flaws… You know that in the competitive industry, I’m not competing with everybody else. ’
Bilbo is a former NFL player who persevered in football as a student-athlete up to pro-athlete. After two years of playing, he felt the burnout from the game. But this very burnout led him to internalize his greater purpose in sports.
He realized that he has been playing as an athlete because that is what he has been trained for. Little did he know, he would be playing as an agent that represents men like himself. He represented with his first hand experience of being an athlete on the table, and that was his edge as an agent. Bilbo is now the biggest NFL Agent, landing a partnership with Rich Paul.
There is more to life after the game.
Being a professional athlete doesn’t mean you are only confined to that area for the rest of your life. While it may have defined a big part of your professional years, your potential is limitless and you are free to diversify in whatever path your heart ultimately desires.
These athletes are just a few of many athletes who succeeded beyond the game. If you are an athlete yourself, this must've reminded you of infinite opportunities available after the game. Trust the process of finding your ultimate goal, and in the same way, trust the process of achieving it.