By Jacob Kornhauser on July 29, 2014
Sure, being a professional athlete has its fair share of perks. There are also things that athletes face on a daily basis that truly make their jobs the dominant things in their lives. For that and many other reasons, athletes' lives aren't all fun and games.
As a professional athlete, you're always in the public's eye. Based on your performance, you may be lamented by everyone and be shamed by your own play. This added stress may be more than it's worth at times.
Once you've been on television enough for people to recognize you consistently, your private life is just about over as a professional athlete. Even if you just want to go out with some friends, it's hard to have a normal life if you get popular enough.
On top of being under constant scrutiny, professional athletes have their each and every move overanalyzed. Sometimes an athlete will do something totally unrelated to sports and the media will decide that it's indicative of something in their sports life.
In the best-case scenario, a professional athlete will last 20 years. In the worst-case scenario, an athlete will last less than a season. Those aren't good odds when you're going to have to find something else to do with your life after your playing career is over.
When athletes are thrust into their respective leagues, there are often huge expectations thrown upon them. Most of these athletes are in their early 20s when they're adjusting to these expectations and, for some, that's far too young to be facing that much stress so quickly.
With the constant travel and the steadily shrinking offseasons in professional sports, it's becoming increasingly harder for athletes to start families. Without a whole lot of time to pay attention to their children, having a family can be a real challenge to any active athlete.
When an athlete does something on or off the field, the media wants to make it a story. Even when there isn't a story, some members of the media will try to make one anyway. That results in things many athletes say and do getting taken completely out of context.
Even though a lot of the media tries to really report newsworthy events in sports, others try to make stories where there aren't any. Sometimes they can ask tough questions that can get on their nerves, and that can really take a toll after a while.
Wherever athletes go, there will be fans that follow. The higher profile the athlete, the less normal their life can be. When they go out in public, there are sure to be crowds of people preventing them from having a normal evening.
Like few other professions, sports stars have to make almost every decision in life based on their career. Since they're under such a microscope and make so much money, almost every decision they make during their playing careers is made with their career in mind only.
In the world of sports, there are plenty of egos. How athletes navigate around the other egos on their team and across the league can make or break them. With enough guys thinking they're the greatest thing since sliced bread, things can be difficult for those few humble athletes still around.
If a professional athlete sets the bar extremely high with their playing career, their kids are going to always feel like they come up short. For example, Michael Jordan had multiple sons who played Division I basketball. However, since they didn't even make the pros, they're looked at as failures when a normal person with the same credentials would be looked at as a success.
Mostly for sports fans' own entertainment, the shortcomings of professional athletes are often made fun of. In fact, there's an entire segment on ESPN called the "Not Top 10," which literally points out the worst sports plays of the week. With fear of falling short, this only adds to the pressure on an athlete.
This obviously isn't always the case, but plenty of professional athletes get attention from women solely because of their money. Having to constantly wonder if your romantic endeavors are due to an actual connection or just your bank account has to wear on an athlete over time.
The bodies of professional athletes take a beating on a daily basis. Especially for football and hockey players, that toll can last a lifetime. As their bodies break down over time, it's a constant reminder of the punishing time they spent the first part of their lives experiencing.
Due to the physical demand of all professional sports, athletes have to have regular medical treatment long after their playing careers are over. Especially when it comes to head injuries, there are some serious repercussions for players long after their glory days are behind them.
Since their seasons generally last about seven months and offseasons are getting shorter every year, athletes have almost no time to themselves. Sure, there's about a two-month window for each athlete to enjoy themselves, but they have a rigorous schedule for the other 10 months of the year.
Fame and fortune can bring out the worst in professional athletes. Many a career have been ruined with off-the-field issues that stemmed from temptations brought on by their wealth. Even for those who resist the temptations, the fact that they're always there must get annoying.
When there's a scandal with a well-known professional athlete, they become front page news. Instead of being able to deal with problems privately like most normal people can, they have to deal with a difficult situation as the nation watches and judges.
If you're a crumby real estate agent, people don't automatically assume you're a bad person. However, when an athlete majorly flops, it's like they gain a stigma as a bad person or at least as an underachiever. This isn't a fair evaluation of a person, but with sports as their defining characteristic, it's all the public can judge them on.
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