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Things You Can Do During and After an Athletic Career

12/24/2018, 7:45pm CST
By Jon Firman

During their career, athletes need to find things to occupy their time or ways to unwind before and after a big game. Still, professional sports careers don’t last forever. So, what do professional athletes do to keep busy after they retire? Some choose another career path to pursue, while others focus on their hobbies or passions. The following will examine a few hobbies and careers that are popular among current and former athletes alike.


One of the most popular career paths for athletes? Entrepreneurship. Many pro athletes take on a number of business projects and investments during their athletic career and after they retire. Former NBA star Kobe Bryant, for example, has seen a lot of success with his investment in BodyArmor and his company Kobe Inc., an investment firm.

Other athletes who have had a lot of success with entrepreneurship include NBA star LeBron James, current NFL player C. J. Anderson, and former NFL player Marques Harris. James’ interests mainly lie in the entertainment industry, where he co-founded a media company, SpringHill Entertainment. However, he also has a sports marketing firm and several sponsorships. Anderson and Harris have both invested in a wide variety of businesses, including those that specifically benefit athletes.


Many athletes have a passion for music, whether they use it for amping them up during training or for chilling out after a big game. Some athletes then go on to either play music in their spare time, or else turn it into a post-sports career. Some examples include NBA player Damian Lillard, who has released two hip hop albums, and former MLB player Bernie Williams, a classically-trained guitarist who has released two jazz albums.


For former athletes, one thing that often never goes away is the desire for competition. That may be why so many former players are drawn to games like poker, where it’s all about beating the competition in a zero-sum contest. Former NBA player Paul Pierce enjoys the challenges and “mental warfare” of poker, calling it a “tough [game] to master.”

Athletes may also see many advantages to playing poker during their career and post-athletic career due to the mental challenges that poker can provide. Former NFL player Richard Seymour said as much when sharing his love for poker and the benefits playing can provide. Playing poker may, over time, improve decision-making skills, patience, concentration, emotional control, math skills, and observational skills. These are all skills that may be developed on the field too, which may help athletes to improve their poker game in turn.

Many current athletes and former athletes also use poker as a way to relax. NBA All-Star Russell Westbrook enjoys playing poker to relax before a big game. Other NBA stars with a love for poker include Charlotte Hornets player Tony Parker and former players Shawn Marion, Earl Barron, and Gilbert Arenas.


One reason former players often make great coaches is because they have the experience needed to better understand the game and the players. They don’t just know game theories and rules, but they have lived and played as athletes, allowing them to better relate to, and bond with, their players.

One of the most notable players-turned-coaches is Tom Flores, who played football in college and professionally. He is one of only two people in the history of the NFL to win the Super Bowl as a coach and a player (the other being Mike Ditka). As a Chiefs player, Flores won Super Bowl IV, and as a Raiders assistant coach, he won Super Bowl XI. As head coach of the Oakland Raiders and the Los Angeles Raiders, he won Super Bowl XV and Super Bowl XVIII.

Some close-to-home examples of University of Minnesota players-turned-coaches include Phil Bengtson, a college football player who went on to coach NFL teams like the 49ers and the Packers; Bud Wilkinson, a college quarterback who had a successful coaching career as head coach at the University of Oklahoma; and Tony Dungy, a college quarterback and NFL player who later served as a coach for teams like the Steelers and Vikings.



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