Don’t Call It A Comeback

Sugar Ray Leonard

Sugar Ray Leonard (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

Some sports stars earn a place on the winners’ podium.  A handful make a fortune from commercial endorsements.  A few transition into politics, or the media, after hanging up their boots.

What happens to the others when the achievements, adulation, and kudos, disappear?

Unsurprisingly, according to a recent BBC article, sports professionals without a post-retirement plan can come to grief.


The article focuses on boxers, but other stars like football players George Best and Paul Gascoigne have had a tough time of it too.


Reading the article I am struck by the physical dependency on success Sugar Ray Leonard describes.  He says:


“There is nothing in life that can compare to becoming a world champion, having your hand raised in that moment of glory, with thousands, millions of people cheering you on”


It must have felt like a yawning chasm had opened up after he left the ring ‘for good’, as he imagined.  No wonder he needed to stage a comeback.


Like Ricky Hatton it might not have been about completing some unfinished business in the ring, more an absence of a concrete idea of what else to do outside of it.


The absence in the sports professionals’ plan A of a plan B strategy must make them extra vulnerable to post career blues.


I wonder how many of them know what benefit they get from their sporting performance (beyond the obvious)?  If they had an answer to that question they might be better able to find a new all-consuming career to follow.


Perhaps the classic coaching question should be part of their future planning approach: you know what you want from your current career, well one day that career will end.  You know how you benefit currently, so ask yourself the hardest thing of all – what else do you want to do with your life?

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