There are millions of sports-fans in the world; however, there are only thousands of professional athletes (including bowling–I counted). The reasons why are pretty clear: for starters, I am pretty sure LeBron James could dribble me down the court and force me through the hoop with a flashy tomahawk jam.
Physical limitations notwithstanding, pro-athletes are also scarce because there are only a few individuals who consistently work at their sport and fitness level like its a full-time job, and have done so since a young age. While I have no chance of being an NBA player, I do remember burning current FC Dallas defender George John on the soccer pitch during our respective high-school careers. The difference? I stopped working at it and he did not.
Whatever reason you never made it pro, there are plenty of alternative career options in sports. Consider the following options.
Athletic trainers diagnose the extent of an injury and create a plan to treat and prevent the injury from reoccurring. Distinct from personal trainers, athletic trainers are recognized by the American Medical Association as allied health professionals. This profession requires at least a bachelor’s degree in the field; however, it is common for athletic trainers to have post-graduate or even doctoral degrees. A license is voluntary, but definitely recommended.
Sports-management may be an intimidating concept at first, but it really should not be. Individuals working in sports-management may be involved in a club’s front-office, work for the local Men’s recreational soccer league, market the Clinton Lumberkings minor league baseball team, or work in sports information (think statistics and scouting). In other words, you do not have to be George Steinbrenner to work in this field. Many colleges offer degrees in sports-management, and you can find out more about them here.
Every competitive athlete should have a great physical therapist in their corner. The physical therapist’s job is related to the athletic trainer, but is more involved. A physical therapist will treat more serious injuries and more typically needs to take a holistic approach to treatment, i.e., imagining and planning for the effects a lumbar disc-extrusion on the right side will have on the left knee. Physical therapy is a highly specialized field, and licensed practitioners need a post-graduate degree in physical therapy from an accredited program. Typically, physical therapists must pass the National Physical Therapy Examination.
Everyone has their favorite sports analyst or play-by-play announcer. No one calls a basketball game like Dick Vitale, and the Phillies’ fan-community is still reeling from the loss of Harry Kalas.
Radio play-by-play or on-screen analysis is not the only media job in sports. On the radio side, a broadcaster is only as good as her producer (the lady behind the glass) or as his stat-guy (think notes scrawled on half-sheets with a golf pencil), and on the T.V. side, there are the camera operators, light technicians, and do not think I forgot about the sports writers!